Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah


As we retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt each year at our Seders, we often place upon it our own imprint along with the stamp of the times in which we are living.  Egypt becomes a metaphor for any place where people are oppressed and persecuted; Pharaoh becomes any tyrant in our age; and the story of our people’s liberation represents the hope for the liberation of any nation or group that is suffering today.  But, can this time-honored tradition of making the Haggadah relevant be taken too far?  Are there some analogies that just don’t “work” and force the story of the exodus from Egypt into a comparison that should not be made?  At Shabbat services tomorrow night during these intermediate days of Passover, I will delve into this subject in my sermon.  Happy Pesach to all!

As we roll the Torah forward each week in the synagogue, the weight of the scroll shifts from the right side to the left.  At this time of year, the two sides are about even, making the role of the Hagbaha, the person who lifts and opens the Torah after it is read, a bit easier.  It is said that the exact midpoint of the Torah falls in this week’s Torah portion, Tzav, and that it falls on the verse:  “And he put upon him the tunic” [Leviticus 8:7-8], referring to the clothing of the High Priest.   Apparently, in some Chumashim (Torah commentaries), it is printed in the margin at this spot:  “Half the Torah in verses.”  In this week’s Parashat Hashavuah, weekly Torah portion study session at 9:30 on Shabbat morning, we are going to check if our Chumashim have this commentary.  And we will examine varying commentaries about what exactly is the midpoint of the Torah (it depends on who you ask and what you are counting!) and what meaning is found in the midpoints that are suggested.


As we initiate several weeks of reading from Leviticus in the synagogue this Shabbat, we acknowledge the challenge that much of Leviticus presents for us.   In this week’s D’var Torah at the Reform Judaism website, Rabbi Lance Sussman discusses this in detail. http://www.reformjudaism.org/learning/torah-study/vayikra/between-rock-and-hard-place-navigating-book-leviticus.   But it is not just Leviticus, with its arcane material, that challenges us.  What do we do when we find teachings anywhere in our tradition that trouble or offend us?  In my sermon this Shabbat, I will take up the subject of how we deal with difficult texts, with the help of some insights from 100 year old actor, Kirk Douglas!

November FOOD OF THE MONTH: Canned Tomatoes 

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This Week at BHT

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03 Dec 2017
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