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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Terumah 2016

Terumah: Foolish Wisdom

This week’s reading, Terumah/Offerings, describes the necessary steps for creating the mishkan, the portable sanctuary that accompanied the Israelites on their desert wanderings. That being the case, it is not the easiest reading from which to derive spiritual teachings. But the rabbinic imagination is nothing if not fertile, and the commentaries on this week’s portion offer fascinating […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Mishpatim 2016

Mishpatim: Clouded Perception

This week’s Torah reading, Mishpatim/Laws, includes a long list of divinely ordained statutes on a wide variety of topics. Included among them is the following instruction: Do not takes bribes, for bribes blind the clear-sighted and confounds the words of the righteous. (Exodus 23:8) The Torah’s language is very clear on this matter and on the reasons […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Yitro 2016

Yitro: The Perfection of Imperfection

This week’s Torah portion (Yitro/Jethro), cover a lot of ground, including Moses’ ascent to Mt. Sinai and the giving of the Ten Commandments. I’m going to focus instead on a single seemingly unimportant verse: When you make for Me an altar of stones, you shall not build it of hewn stones, for by wielding your […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Beshalakh 2016

Beshalakh: Bearing Witness

In this week’s Torah reading (Beshalakh/When He Sent), the Children of Israel cross the Reed Sea and are finally and decisively freed from Egyptian bondage. After agreeing to release the Israelites, Pharaoh changed his mind and set out with his army in hot pursuit. Trapped between Egyptian chariots and the sea, the Israelites panicked. But God, by […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Bo

Bo: Plagued by Darkness

This week’s reading, Bo/Come, describes the last three plagues imposed by God on Egypt including the plague of darkness. The darkness was in some ways the subtlest of the plagues, and the text makes it clear that it was not ordinary darkness: YHVH said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky, and there will be darkness on […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Shemot

Shemot: Nameless Benefactors

This week’s Torah reading is the first in the book of Exodus. Both the book in its entirety and this portion are called “Shemot” in Hebrew. Shemot means “names” and this title is taken from the opening of the first chapter: these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt… (Exodus 1:1) […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Vayakhel/Pikudei

Vayakhel-Pikudei: Wise Hearts

In this week’s reading, the Israelites turn to the task of building the Mishkan according to God’s plan. They are called upon to donate building material and to take on the responsibility for constructing the various components of this portable sanctuary. One particular phrase is repeated so often that even a cursory reading of the Hebrew will make […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Ki Tissa

Ki Tissa: Revelation and Insight

This week’s reading includes the story of the Golden Calf. The failure of the Children of Israel and to live up to covenant they had so recently accepted pushed both God and Moshe nearly to limits of their patience. God’s anger was so great that he had to withdraw his presence (Exodus 33:1-6). Moshe pitched his tent outside […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Tetzaveh

Tetzaveh: Eternal Light

Early in my adult Jewish learning, the evolutionary quality of Jewish thought and practice captured my interest.  As conditions changed over time and across space, Jews found extraordinary ways of adapting without losing connection to the past. This week’s Torah portion offers an opportunity to explore this process of adaptation and change. In last week’s […]

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