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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 Chayei Sarah (November 11, 2017)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
WHILE THE TITLE OF THIS PARASHAH translates as “Sarah’s Life,” it is really about Sarah’s death. In the previous section, Vayeira, it appears that Abraham never mentioned to his wife that he was taking their only son off to a mountain to sacrifice him to the Lord. As a mother, I am sure that Sarah would have objected loudly to the idea, had she known.

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Parashat Noach (October 21, 2017)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
AS I WRITE THIS, the first flight after Hurricane Maria has just reached New York City from Puerto Rico. I have not seen a photo of passengers kissing the ground, but I can well imagine that, after being battered by the storm, they might feel like doing so. In my apartment building, we still are waiting for word of the doorman who went to Puerto Rico on vacation. Another staff member tells me that his mother is frantic; her brother and his whole family live there, and she has not heard from them.

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Parashat B'reishit (October 14, 2017)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
THE ASSIGNMENT WAS “Give an adequate description of Chaos.” The professor was Richard Wilbur, who later became the second poet laureate of the United States. Mr. Wilbur, a visiting professor at Wellesley, taught a seminar in poetry writing that met very early in the morning during a very cold New England winter. You had to be motivated to take that class.

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Parashat Nitzavim/Vayeilech (September 16, 2017)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
WE HAVE COME TO THE END OF MOSES’ LIFE. The great leader, who has shepherded the Israelites from slavery through the desert, will not be allowed to enter the Promised Land. With grace and foresight, he is instructing Joshua, his chosen successor, on how to face the challenges that lie ahead.

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Parashat Shof'tim (August 26, 2017)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
“JUSTICE, JUSTICE SHALL YOU PURSUE,” God says to Moses in Parashat Shof’tim. Commentators have pointed out that the repetition of the word “justice” is intended to emphasize the importance of justice in the establishment of the Israelites’ new society. Also, the people are commanded to “pursue” justice, not to establish it. Perfect justice never will exist in this world, but that is not to say that people can ever stop aiming for it.

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