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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 D'varim (July 29, 2017)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
IN THIS PORTION, D’varim, we read about the spies who go into the Land that God has promised to Israel and bring back a gloomy report. They speak of large cities inhabited by giants who are sure to defeat the Israelites. Sound familiar? Yes. We have heard about the spies and the giants, the so-called Anakites, in the book of Numbers. (13:1–14:44) In both versions, the spies bring back discouraging news; the Israelites refuse to go forward and are punished by having to stay in the desert for 40 years, until the entire generation that came from Egypt dies out.

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


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)


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