Rivers of His Hands

“The rivers of his hands [נהרות ידיו] poured into his good deeds,” reads the Yehuda Amichai poem “My Father.” The Hebrew Poetry group at Temple Micah discussed this poem on Shabbat, and I later recalled some background which seems related. Rabbi Meir says in Pirkei Avot: Anyone who involves himself in Torah for its own […]

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A Category Struggle: Source Materials Update

This past Shabbat I included a passage from one of my favorite teachers, Alicia Ostriker, in a dvar Torah. I was asked to share the bibliographic information and maybe some other resources providing women’s commentary on Torah. As a result, I decided to update my source materials. And, in the spirit of my chosen NaBloPoMo […]

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Beyond Bleary-Eyed Page Shuffling

Some Early Morning Blessing Resources offered with thoughts of Temple Micah’s upcoming siddur study group Why open a prayer book? The Art of Blessing the Day God’s Faith Morning Poetry More Links Why open a prayer book: “Sometimes you’re just too strung out to come up with your own personal prayers. Having the text in […]

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Seven Days or Seven Years: Why Don’t Reform Jews Know?

How long was Jacob married to Leah before he also married Rachel? This question came up in discussion at Temple Micah‘s Kol Isha group this week concerning Jacob and his wives (Parashat Vayeitzei, primarily). We were confused, since participants had been taught different basic facts: Some remembered clearly being taught as children that Laban demanded […]

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Bechukotai: Something to Notice

“To the last, Parashat Bechukotai challenges us,” writes R. Elizabeth Bolton in “Mir Zaynen Do — We Are Here,” an essay in the The Women’s Torah Commentary:* If the text excludes us when we are not named, then should we include ourselves in such passages as blessings and curses? Surely contemporary Jewish praxis would look […]

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Kedoshim: A Path to Follow

A college friend and sailing fan once told me a story about a sailor who was about to win a ’round-the-world-solo race when he tacked away from harbor and, returning to open ocean, headed around again. On May 20, 2009, I had a kind of fit and decided to launch “Torah: Opening the Book” on […]

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Unintentional Soul-Fail: Pursuing Connections

Leviticus/Vayikra chapter 4 opens with a “soul” involved in an “unintentional” “failure.” Vayikra: Language and Translation offers five translations, with their associated notes and commentaries. For anyone seeking a drash [investigation] point, this could be a good spot to begin: What might it mean for a soul to fail unintentionally? And what, if anything, can […]

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Sacrifice and Womb: Pursuing Connections

One of the reasons I started the “Opening the Book” blog series was my belief that the plethora of dvrei torah (plural of dvar [word] of Torah]) on the internet, as well as in print, doesn’t necessarily help anyone who is trying to prepare a dvar torah of their own, at least at the outset. […]

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Torah: Pursuing Connections

In medieval Jewish literature, the consonants of the Hebrew alphabet are compared to a body and the vowels to a soul [1]. Yet, a Torah scroll is written only with consonants. Indeed, a vocalized Torah scroll is unfit for ritual use [2]. The Torah requires a person to supply the vowels, the vocalization, the soul, […]

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Vayakhel: Something to Notice

“…but the materials were more than enough [vehoter] for all the work that had to be done.” — Exodus/Shemot 36:7 Construction of the Tabernacle in the desert was an act that paralleled the creation of heaven and earth and corresponded to all known aspects of the order in which G’d created the universe, (B’rachot 55). […]

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