Resources for Creating a D’var Torah

 


 

Prepared by Rabbi Jonathan Kligler

revised 6/26/09

 

A sampling of recommended Torah Commentaries in the WJC library (Reference Only):

 

A Torah Commentary for Our Times (3 vols.) by Rabbi Harvey Fields

Rabbi Fields digests many different commentators from throughout Jewish history and organizes their comments around topics in each portion. Written for high school students, perfect for everyone!

 

Studies (6 vols.) by Nehama Leibowitz

A collection of revered teacher Nehama Leibowitz’s lessons on various topics in every Torah portion. She educates about the traditional Jewish commentators and compares their interpretations.

 

Pentateuch and Rashi’s Commentary (5 vols.)

A line-by-line translation of Rashi’s commentary on the Chumash (The Five Books of Moses).  Rashi is the authoritative rabbinic commentator from the 11th century.

 

The Torah: A Modern Commentary (Revised Edition) Edited by Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut, revised by Rabbi David Stein

This is the edition that we use in our synagogue services. A tremendous resource.

 

Etz Hayim Torah and Commentary

The new commentary produced by the Conservative Movement. I find Rabbi Harold Kushner’s commentary especially worthwhile.

 

The Chumash: The Stone Edition

An Orthodox translation and commentary.

 

Sparks Beneath the Surface: A Spiritual Commentary on the Torah by Rabbi Lawrence Kushner and Rabbi Kerry Olitzky

Short, accessible spiritual teachings on each Torah portion, drawing from Hasidic and other spiritual sources.

 

The Five Books of Miriam: A Women’s Commentary on the Torah by Ellen Frankel

A groundbreaking attempt to incorporate women’s wisdom and perspective into Torah commentary.

 

Torah Studies: Discourses by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. ScneersonAdapted by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

An accessible treatent of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s insights.

 

American Torah Toons by Lawrence Bush

Larry Bush, an author and member of WJC, illuminates his personal take on every Torah portion in this quirky and delightful volume.

 

The Book of Legends (Sefer Ha-aggadah): Legends from the Tamud and MidrashEdited by Hayim Nahman Bialik and Yehoshua Ravnitzky, translated by William Bruade

A comprehensive, well-organized collection of all the Talmudic legends, midrash and commentary. A fantastic resource.

 

The Legends of the Jews (7 vols.) by Louis Ginzberg

Unique, exhaustive collection of the entire corpus of Jewish lore on the Bible.

 

 

Not in our library but among my favorites:

 

The Language of Truth: The Torah Commentary of the Sefat Emet Translated and interpreted by Rabbi Arthur Green

The profound teachings of the Hassidic master Rabbi Yehudah Leib Alter of Ger made accessible to the modern seeker.

 

Genesis: The Beginning of Desire  and The Particulars of Rapture: Reflections on Exodus  by Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg

Brilliant, dense literary and psychoanalytic reading of the Torah, based on traditional sources.  Difficult to penetrate but intensely worthwhile.

 

Members of the class are encouraged to share their favorite resources!


Websites

I encourage you to explore the ever-burgeoning world of Torah commentary on the World-Wide Web. 

 

When you wish to research a particular Torah portion, you can use any of the websites listed below, and you can also search by the Torah portion’s name. Use variant spellings. For example, I found links to next week’s portion under all these variant spellings: “behaalotcha”,  “behaalotecha”, “behaalosecha” and “behaaloscha”.

 

 Here are some websites that you may find helpful:

 

http://rabbishefagold.com/Torah1.html

Rabbi Shefa Gold is the author of Torah Journeys.  Her approach is summarized by the subtitle of her book: “The Torah is the map. You are the territory.”  The Torah is the map we follow for our own spiritual and personal development.

 

http://www.reclaimingjudaism.org/

Rabbi Goldie Milgram has created a website with weekly Torah commentaries and with excellent guidance on how to create your own D’var Torah. When you open the home page, click on “Torah Commentary & Guides to Writing Your Own”.

 

http://jrf.org/recon-dt

The Reconstructionist Movement’s site for Divrei Torah.

 

http://urj.org/torah/

The Reform Movement’s site for Divrei Torah.

 

http://www.uscj.org/Torah_Sparks__Weekly5467.html

The Conservative Movement’s site for Divrei Torah

 

http://www.ou.org/torah/index

The Orthodox Union’s site for Divrei Torah

 

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/texts/Bible/Torah/Commentaries.shtml?TSBI

A brief overview on the nature of Torah commentary.

 

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/texts/Bible/Weekly_Torah_Portion.shtml

Excellent, extensive library of Divrei Torah from all over the Jewish world.

 

http://www.chabad.org/parshah/otherparshas_cdo/aid/9175/jewish/All-Parshas.htm

The Chabad website offers Hasidic commentaries, as well as an excellent sampling of commentaries and midrashim from throughout the ages. Make sure in particular to click on “In-Depth Parshah Overview with Selected Commentaries”.

 

http://torah.org/

Orthodox website with extensive and well-organized commentaries on the weekly Torah portion.

 

http://www.shamash.org/tanach/dvar.shtml#shamash

Massive index and links of Divrei Torah from across the Jewish spectrum. Don’t get overwhelmed!

 

http://www.ravkooktorah.org/ind_bami.htm

Torah commentary based on the writings of Rav A. I. Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Palestine in the early 20th century and a much-loved mystical teacher.

 

http://www.azamra.org/parshah.shtml

Torah commentary based on the teachings of the Hassidic master Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav.

 

http://www.chassidus.net/

Chassidic teachings on the weekly portion.  Useful entry-point into the Chassidic approach.

 

http://inner.org/

Jewish mysticism and thought, based on the teachings of HaRav Yitzchak Ginsburgh. Very thorough, hold on to your hat!

 

http://www.meaningfullife.com/torah/parsha/

Rabbi Simon Jacobson presents teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

 

http://kolel.org/pages/lobby.html

The “Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning” in Toronto, Canada.  Click on the link for “Weekly Parasha”.

 

http://g-dcast.com

Animated and sometimes musical Torah interpretations!

 

Useful Glossaries and Informational Articles:

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/Glossary/Shkhinah.htm

http://www.asknoah.org/HTML/glossary.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbinic_literature

 

The Torah in Hebrew with English Translation On-Line:

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0.htm

http://www.chabad.org/parshah/default_cdo/jewish/Parshah.htm

 

 

Bible Concordances

A concordance allows you to find every mention of a word or phrase wherever it appears in the Bible.  Here are some on-line concordances you can access:

 

http://www.mnemotrix.com/texis/vtx/chumash

Searches Chumash (5 Books of Moses) and the Rashi commentary on the Chumash

 

http://www.eliyah.com/lexicon.html

Searches entire Hebrew Bible and New Testament

 

http://www.biblegateway.com/keyword/

Searches entire Hebrew Bible and New Testament