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Torah Commentary Blog

Temple Emanu-El’s Torah commentaries are prepared by members of our clergy, senior staff, Religious School faculty and Saturday morning Torah Study group. Blog comments are moderated. Please note that we reserve the right to delete comments that are deemed inappropriate, use offensive language, promote personal attacks or are self-serving (promote goods and services). At the same time, we hope that this blog will promote thoughtful dialogue and continued learning. If you are a temple member interested in joining our team of writers, contact Prince Davis.



Parashat Matot/Mas'ei (July 22, 2017)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
WHOA! WHAT HAVE WE HERE? Amid a long recital of all the places the Israelites travelled in their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, the Torah casually mentions that Aaron died. I included the third sentence, which deals with the king of Arad, to show that the account of Aaron’s death doesn’t even take up a whole paragraph.

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Sunday July 16th | Post a comment/View comments » (0 comments)


Parashat Chukat (July 1, 2017)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
PARASHAT CHUKAT OPENS WITH THE LORD COMMANDING Moses and Aaron about the red cow, more commonly referred to as the “red heifer.” The command is detailed and specific. The heifer is to be “without blemish” and never to have borne a yoke. After he finds this perfect cow, the priest is to kill it, burn it and save its ashes to be used at some future time in the “water of lustration.” (“To lustrate,” the dictionary says, is “to purify by means of ceremony.”) The ceremony is usually for purification after contact with a corpse.

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Sunday June 25th | Post a comment/View comments » (0 comments)


Parashat Korach (June 24, 2017)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
THE STORY OF KORACH ALWAYS HAS PUZZLED ME. Korach is a Levite, a cousin of Moses and Aaron. When he asks to be included in the leadership of the community, he does have a point. Aren’t the Levites the priests? And isn’t Korach a Levite, and thus a priest and a leader? Yet, when Korach and his co-conspirators challenge Moses, the earth opens up and swallows him, his extended family and all their possessions. Oops!

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Sunday June 18th | Post a comment/View comments » (0 comments)


Parashat Tazria/M'tzora (April 29, 2017)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
WHEN I WAS IN RELIGIOUS SCHOOL, we looked at this parashah and said, “Leprosy — how gross! And who cares anyway?” By then, we knew that leprosy, also called Hansen’s Disease, was almost obsolete. And it never had been particularly contagious, if reasonable steps to avoid infection were taken by those dealing with the patients.

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Sunday April 23rd | Post a comment/View comments » (0 comments)


Parashat Vayikra (April 1, 2017)
By Tarlan Rabizadeh
THERE’S A MOVIE CALLED “MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING.” It’s about a first-generation American woman from a Greek family who ends up falling in love with a non-Greek man and must come to terms with her heritage and clashing identities. Tula’s life story reminds me of my own.

My family might not roast lamb on a spit in the front yard, as in the film, but like the ancient Israelites in this week’s parashah, I grew up in a family where we do kaparot...sacrifices.

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Sunday March 26th | Post a comment/View comments » (0 comments)


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