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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 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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Sunday September 10th | Post a comment/View comments » (0 comments)


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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Sunday August 20th | Post a comment/View comments » (1 comments)


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)


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