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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Terumah

Terumah: Offering Space

This week’s Torah portion is Terumah, which means “offering”. The reading opens with a divine request for gifts of specific items that will be used to construct a sanctuary. These offerings are not mandatory but are to come from those whose hearts are moved to contribute. The text explains the project this way: Let them […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Mishpatim

Mishpatim: Cultivating a Benevolent Heart

This week’s parashah/Torah reading is aptly named Mishpatim, which means “rules” or “ordinances.” The reading includes 53 different mitzvot/religious obligations encompassing, among other things, civil rights and responsibilities, jurisprudence, finance, seasonal festivals and dietary laws. I’d like to focus on just two of them: When you encounter your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you must […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Interdependence

Yitro: Interdependence

This week’s Torah portion includes the revelation at Mount Sinai, the giving of the Ten Commandments and the acceptance of God’s rule by the Children of Israel, but I’m not going to comment on any of that. Instead, I want to focus on Moshe and the challenge of leadership.   The Israelites were not an easy group […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Beshalakh

Beshalakh: Walking the Talk

This Torah portion finds us at the conclusion of the Israelite sojourn in Egypt. Pharaoh finally relents and agrees to let the people go.  They journey through the wilderness, led by a divine pillar of fire, and eventually make camp by the Sea of Reeds. Meanwhile, back in Egypt, Pharaoh has had a change of heart and sends […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Bo

Bo: Delusional Desire

This week’s Torah portion includes Moshe’s last encounter with Pharaoh before the exodus from Egypt. It narrates the last of the ten plagues, including the death of the first-born, and establishes Pesach/Passover as the first Jewish festival. I am theologically and ethical troubled by aspects of the Exodus account, but I am also inspired by it. There’s […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Finding Your Voice

Vaera: Finding Your Voice

Moshe’s initial attempt to free the Children of Israel had failed. Pharaoh had punished his audacity by imposing even harsher conditions on the Israelite slaves. Moshe cried out to God, wondered why God had sent him, when all he had managed to do was to make things worse. God responded to his plea, reiterated the promise of liberation, […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Shemot

Shemot: Doubt

This week, we begin the the book of Exodus, which is known in Hebrew as Shemot (Names).  The seventy souls that journeyed with Ya’akov to Egypt have flourished and become the Children of Israel, a people numerous enough to feel threatening to the Egyptians. The Israelites are enslaved and abused; their sons are to be […]

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