April 4, 2021
Text - Leviticus, Rabbi Jonathan's Teaching on the Torah Portion, Shemini
This is one of the most mystifying passages in the Torah. Why are Nadav and Avihu consumed by YHVH’s fire? ... Why does Moses express no sympathy or grief? Why is Aaron silent? What is their understanding of the import of these deaths?
March 18, 2021
Text - Leviticus, Rabbi Jonathan's Teaching on the Torah Portion, Tzav | צו
I have found ... that reading the Haftarah portion as a form of rabbinic commentary on its accompanying Torah portion is a very fruitful approach. The Haftarah of Tzav is an excellent example.
March 15, 2021
Text - Leviticus, Rabbi Jonathan's Teaching on the Torah Portion, Vayikra | ויקרא
For the modern reader, the book of Leviticus appears to be an odd and even unwelcome intrusion into the grand saga of our ancestors. ... But what if the Torah — the Five Books of Moses — is not organized into the narrative shape to which we modern readers are accustomed?
March 7, 2021
Text - Exodus, Pekudei פקודי, Rabbi Jonathan's Teaching on the Torah Portion
As the book of Exodus comes to a close, we are reminded that we are endowed with ru’akh Elohim — a Divine spirit of wisdom, skill and knowledge in all manner of craft. We have been freed from bondage in order to realize our true, creative, noble and free nature.
March 7, 2021
Text - Exodus, Rabbi Jonathan's Teaching on the Torah Portion, Vayak’hel | ויקהל
Moses has descended once again from the mountain, face aglow, carrying the tablets with the restored covenant in his arms. God has forgiven the Children of Israel for their transgressions with the Golden Calf. They are finally ready to begin creating God’s dwelling place in the heart of their community.
February 28, 2021
Text - Exodus, Ki Tisa | כי תשא, Rabbi Jonathan's Teaching on the Torah Portion
How does the Torah describe God? Not by doctrine or dogma, but by encounter. Not with systematic theology, but with stories. I find this approach refreshing. Stories do not demand agreement or adherence; they invite engagement.
February 21, 2021
Text - Exodus, Rabbi Jonathan's Teaching on the Torah Portion, Tetzaveh | תצוה
Curiously, this week’s Torah portion, Tetzaveh, never mentions Moses by name. This is the only Torah portion from Moses’ birth at the beginning of the book of Exodus until the Children of Israel reach the far banks of the Jordan at the end of the book of Numbers in which Moses’ name does not appear.
February 14, 2021
Text - Exodus, Rabbi Jonathan's Teaching on the Torah Portion, Terumah | תרומה
In the language of the Torah, kedushah is a place or moment in which we experience the presence of the Divine. Judaism is acutely aware of the paradox inherent in this formulation. Is not the entire world already suffused with Divine Presence? And yet, we humans are uniquely capable of being oblivious to this sublime truth.
February 7, 2021
Text - Exodus, Mishpatim | משפטים, Rabbi Jonathan's Teaching on the Torah Portion
In biblical Hebrew, when an emphatic statement is made, there are no words such as “surely” or “really,” and certainly no boldface or italics or exclamation points available. Instead, the verb is repeated twice. In the verse above, we know that the Hebrew is being unusually forceful because not one, but every verb in the verse is repeated twice.
January 31, 2021
Text - Exodus, Rabbi Jonathan's Teaching on the Torah Portion, Yitro | יתרו
After weeks of journeying from the Red Sea, the Children of Israel arrive at the foot of Mount Sinai. There, after careful preparations, they hear the voice of God and receive what are known in English as the Ten Commandments.