Search URJ.org and the other Reform websites:

Stranger

The Moral Imperative of the Stranger

Man helps a stranger up the hill demonstrating tikkun olam

In Parashat Mishpatimwe find the Israelites in the midst of the Revelation at Sinai, experiencing the communal wonder and intensity of their encounter with God. Mishpatim, which means “laws,” dives into the details. The Revelations in Mishpatim are among the words Moses writes down on stone when he and Aaron ascend the mountain. Scholars call these laws the Book of the Covenant or Sefer HaB’rit. It’s the Torah’s first pass at the legal details that govern Jewish living.

D'var Torah By: 
Laws that Lead Us to Act with Compassion
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Matt Zerwekh

TMTimage_Feb20_action_250_138.jpg

Translated into English, the meaning of Parashat Mishpatim is “Laws,” but I would suggest we also refer to this Torah portion with the word rachmanut, “compassion.” The laws set forth in Parashat Mishpatim give us clear guidance as to our treatment of the segments of society to which we do not belong — the slave, the poor, the widow, the orphan. It point isn’t only that we should remember that we were once strangers in a strange land, for that only calls for empathy — an understanding of the other.

The Roots of the Amicus Brief

Following the giving of the Ten Commandments in last week’s Torah portion, Parashat Mishpatim brings us a diverse collection of civil, criminal, ritual, and ethical laws. Included in the parashah is a section of text that has become relevant to a topic that is highly contested in our day.

Next month, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Whole Woman's Health v. Cole, a challenge to a restrictive Texas abortion law. It will be the first time in more than 20 years that the Supreme Court has heard an abortion case.

D'var Torah By: 
Being Present in a World of Distractions
Davar Acher By: 
Daniel J. Feder

In a world of distracted people and shortened attention spans, there is a verse in Mishpatim that helps us regain our focus. This striking verse is from Exodus 24:12: "The Eternal One said to Moses, 'Come up to Me on the mountain and wait there . . . ' "

The meaning seems straightforward in the English translation found in The Torah: A Modern Commentary1; it seems easy for our modern minds to comprehend. But this verse provides a great example of how a close reading of the Hebrew verse can yield a different perspective.

Everything Old Can Be New Again

A few weeks ago, in studying Parashat R'eih, I noted that the Torah gives us a great gift of joy—a command to celebrate with one's entire household—tucked into a long passage replete with

D'var Torah By: 
How We Can Create Blessings
Davar Acher By: 
Steven W. Engel

Within the Torah portion Ki Tavo there is a list of blessings and then curses that may fall upon one depending on her or his actions. According to the Torah these are given out by God.

Halachah and Aggadah: The Interplay between Law and Narrative to Determine God’s Will for Us

In Parashat Yitro, we are overwhelmed by the power of the encounter of God and the Jewish people at Mount Sinai.

D'var Torah By: 
Metaphors and Margins
Davar Acher By: 
Nikki Lyn DeBlosi

"This would be so much easier if the Rabbis didn't speak in metaphors!" one of my students observed.

To Delight in Life

This week's Torah portion presents a seemingly endless litany of blessings and curses.

D'var Torah By: 
Separate but Not Equal: Blessings and Curses in Ki Tavo
Davar Acher By: 
Elliot Kukla

This week’s portion is hard to love. It contains a long list of the painful ways we will be cursed if we do not follow God’s commandments.

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

I’m your typical oldest child, fitting many of the characteristics that psychologists love to identify: a natural leader, a people-pleaser, a perfectionist, and so on.

D'var Torah By: 
They Ain’t Heavy, They’re Our Parents
Davar Acher By: 
David Sandmel

Exodus 21 contains two commandments regarding treatment of parents: "He who strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death" (Exodus 21:15) and "He who insults his father or mother should be

B'har for Tots

If your kin, being in straits, come under your authority and are held by you though resident aliens, let them live by your side.… Let your kin live by your side as such.

By: 
Ellen and Peter Allard

Living between Mountains

I live in Los Gatos, California which is on the edge of the Santa Clara Valley.

D'var Torah By: 
Jeanne and Thelma
Davar Acher By: 
Jennifer Clayman

Rabbi Aron's description of the two women she visited reminds me of two women in my own family: my grandmother Jeanne, and her sister, my great-aunt Thelma, z"l.

To Influence and To Be Shaped by Another’s Influence

Tolstoy begins Anna Karenina with the following two assertions: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Perhaps this explains why for every one bles

D'var Torah By: 
Nightmares and Mitzvot
Davar Acher By: 
Andrew Busch

Zombies, vampires, and the like are getting attention of late. A book and movie present Abraham Lincoln fighting vampires. A cable show explores life after a zombie apocalypse.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Stranger