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Torah Commentary

Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Khayyei Sarah 2016

Khayyei Sarah: Love and Comfort

This week’s Torah reading (Khayyei Sarah) describes, among many other events, Abraham’s efforts to find a wife for his son, Isaac. As you may recall, Isaac was the longed-for and much-loved son of Abraham and Sarah. He was born late in their lives, long after they had given up hope of conceiving. He is the child […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Vayera 2016

Vayera: Not Knowing

I’ve written and rewritten my reflection on this week’s reading three times. Vayera includes many significant passages, all of which are worthy of comment. But–unusually for me–I have nothing to say about any of them. The recent election has shaken me–along with many, many others–to the core. There is great uncertainty about what is next for America, but […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Lekh Lekha 2106

Lekh Lekha: Going Forward

The opening words of this week’s reading, Lekh Lekha (Go Forth), hold a different meaning for me in the painful aftermath of the recent U.S. election. The Torah portion opens with the following words: And YHVH said to Abram, “Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land that […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Bereshit 2016

Bereshit: Beginning, Again

This week, we begin our third cycle through the Torah. Once again, we come to Bereshit, the first reading of the first book of the Torah. Although the reading is the same, we are not, and that is part of the magic of re-engaging the same text on a regular basis. The book is known in […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Ha'azinu 2016

Ha’azinu: The Gift of Forgetfulness

This week’s reading, Ha’azinu (Give Ear), begins with a long poem known as the Song of Moses. It is in the midst of the Song that we find this verse: You forgot the Rock that birthed you…(Deuteronomy 32:18) Moses is chastising the Israelites for abandoning the God who, by liberating and guiding them, created a nation. […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Vayelekh

Vayelekh: Where did Moses Go?

This week’s Torah reading (Vayelekh) opens with the following verse: And Moses went and he spoke these words to all of Israel. (Deuteronomy 31:1) The text goes on to report the details of the last day of his life. Moses transfers leadership to Joshua, his second-in-command, finalizes a written version of Torah, instructs the people to gather annually […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Nitzavim 2106

Nitzavim: Turning Toward, Tuning In

This week’s reading (Nitzavim/You are Standing) comes just before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Because of this proximity, commentators old and new are drawn to the High Holiday themes that they find within it. And perhaps the most important theme is teshuvah.  I’m reluctant to translate that word into English. The most common rendering is “repentance”, but […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Ki Tavo 2016

Ki Tavo: Joy for the World

This week’s reading, Ki Tavo (When You Enter), opens with instructions for expressing gratitude, including a powerful ritual for offering first fruits to God. Once that ritual has been completed, the Israelites are instructed to celebrate their good fortune: You are to rejoice in all the good that YHVH, your God, has given you and your household; you, […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Ki Teitzei 2016

Ki Teitzei: Weights and Measures

Last week marked the beginning of the month of Elul in the Jewish calendar. Customarily, Elul is a period of reflective preparation for the Days of Awe. In this context, I can’t help but read this week’s Torah portion (Ki Teitzei) with the High Holidays in mind. Jewish tradition holds that during this period, our good […]

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