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Torah Commentary

Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Yitro

Yitro: Sacred Service

In this week’s reading (Yitro), the Israelites experience an extraordinary revelation at Mount Sinai. The content of that revelation includes the Ten Commandments. These days, I’ve been think a lot about the fourth of those divine utterances, the one about the Sabbath. “Six days you may work and do all your labor, it states, “but the seventh […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Beshalakh 2017

Beshalakh: From Bitter to Sweet

This week’s Torah portion (Beshalakh), includes Pharaoh’s pursuit of the Israelites and a miraculous escape made possible by the parting of the Sea of Reeds. There is an epic victory poem and a description of the prophetess Miriam leading the women in joyful celebration. Too bad the portion doesn’t continue on this uplifting note. Immediately after this […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Bo 2017

Bo: Liberating the Mixed Multitude

In this week’s Torah portion (Bo), the Children of Israel finally escape Egypt bondage. But they weren’t the only ones fleeing Pharaoh: A mixed multitude also went up with them  (Exodus 12:38) Commentators through the ages have had a lot to say about this mixed multitude (erev rav). Frankly, I find much of it to be, […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Vaera 2017

Vaera: In Defiance of Despair

This week’s Torah portion, Vaera, focuses on the power struggle between Pharaoh and Moses. Interestingly, even though this battle is on behalf of the Children of Israel, their response to the unfolding drama consists, in this reading, of just one verse: And Moses spoke–just as [God had instructed him] to the Children of Israel, but they […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Shemot

Shemot: A Passion for Compassion

This week’s reading (Shemot) opens the book of Exodus. I am particularly fond of this one because it includes a group of courageous and compassionate women. After connecting the end of Genesis with the beginning of Exodus, Shemot turns to the changed circumstances of the Israelites. A new pharaoh was in charge, and was worried about […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Vayekhi 2017

Vayekhi: On Being Old and Satisfied

This week’s reading, Vayekhi, is the last portion in the book of Genesis. The tale of Joseph is concluded, and Jacob–the last of the patriarchs–dies in Egypt, surrounded by his offspring: Jacob finished commanding his sons, and he gathered up his feet into the bed, and expired and was gathered to his people. (Genesis 49:33) It’s […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Vayiggash 2016

Vayiggash: Don’t Know Mind

This week’s reading (Vayiggash) concludes the story of Joseph and his brothers. At the conclusion of last week’s reading, a stolen goblet was discovered in Benjamin’s pack. Benjamin was the youngest of Jacob’s sons and especially beloved by his father as his mother, Rachel, had died and Joseph was presumed dead. The goblet had been […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Miketz 2016

Miketz: Karma and the Spiritual Path

In this week’s reading (Miketz) the tale of Joseph and his brothers resumes. As you may recall, in last week’s Torah portion, Joseph set out to see his brothers who were pasturing their herds away from the family encampment. Things went downhill pretty quickly, and his brothers sold him into slavery. He ended up in […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Vayeshev 2016

Vayeshev: Seeing the Whole

In this week’s reading Vayeshev, the Torah shifts its focus to the next generation and especially to Jacob’s favorite child, Joseph. In a family of twelve sons from four different mothers, there was bound to be a fair amount of sibling rivalry. But Jacob’s obvious favoritism and Joseph’s (apparent) arrogance certainly exacerbated the situation. Perhaps […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Vayetze 2016

Vayetze: Angels Going Up and Down

This week’s reading (Vayetze) opens with Jacob’s first night on the run from the family he’d betrayed. When the sun had set and he could no longer travel, he lay down to sleep: He dreamed, and behold! A ladder set up on the earth and its top reached the heavens; and behold! Angels of God were […]

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