Each week we will share different commentaries on the Torah portion and/or the holiday.

Torah Commentary for Shavuot 2020

 

Saturday, May 23, 2020
BAMIDBAR, NUMBERS 1:1-4:20

In Hebrew, Bamidbar means “in the wilderness” although the English name is Numbers. In this book of the Torah, the reader journeys along with the Israelites from Mt. Sinai through the physical wilderness before they arrive at the Promised Land. But it is not only an untamed place where they stay for decades, but an untamed emotional state in which they live. There is skepticism about reaching their eventual destination. They are afraid of what is to come of them. They doubt their own vision. Will there be a happy ending to their journey in the wilderness? In this COVID-19 time, we can see a parallel with many of our own emotions.

Saturday, May 16, 2020
BEHAR-BECHUKOTAI, LEVITICUS 25:1-27:34

The Eternal One spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai: "Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: When you enter the land that I assign to you, the land shall observe a sabbath of the Eternal." 

“In this Torah portion, God describes the laws surrounding resting the land and crops every seven years, as well as the Jubilee year every 50 years. God permits the use of slaves but provides stipulations including the obligation to eventually free your slaves” –MyJewishLearning.com

Saturday, May 9, 2020

EMOR, LEVITICUS 21:1-24:23

This Torah portion gets its name from the word by which God tells Moses to “speak” the “Holiness” laws to the priests.  The priests had special duties and special laws were given to them, which set them apart from the rest of the Israelites.

In today’s COVID-9 world, which group of people is being given special status?  Think healthcare workers, food providers and emergency responders.

 

Saturday, May 2, 2020
ACHAREI MOT, LEVITICUS 16:1-18:30

"Acharei Mot, the first of this week's two parashiyot begins on an unsettling  note -- a reminder of the death of Aaron's sons and the suggestion that such  tragedies might occur again unless the priests take specified steps to prevent them" -- Rabbi Richard Levy

My rules alone shall you observe, and faithfully follow My laws: I the Lord am your God. - Leviticus 18:4

What good are rules if you can bend them?
We need a nanny who is disciplined and stern.
With boys and girls you don't befriend them.
I fear that Marry Poppins has a lot to learn.

-- Sung by George Banks in the musical "Mary Poppins"

Saturday, April 25, 2020
TAZRIA, LEVITICUS 12:1 – 13:59

For many of us, the Torah portions of Tazria and Metzora have never felt so relevant. While in years past there was a great sense of distance from the confusing descriptions of biblical skin afflictions, the quarantine of afflicted Israelites…it feels difficult to escape their prescience during our current global pandemic. (As a matter of fact, there was a recent essay published on thetorah.com exploring all of the parallels between COVID-19 and the treatment of Ancient Near Eastern contagious disease.) As we all struggle with the challenges of social distancing and the uncertainty of the future, I believe that insights into the details of our parshiyot can provide us with points of reflection for our present reality.  - Rabbi Rogoff

  • View the youth-friendly video on this week's Torah portion here on Bimbam.com

  • From Reform Judaism, A Disease that Walls Get? Decoding Tzaraat and facing Our Fears by Professor Rachel Adler. Professor of Modern Jewish Thought and Judaism and Gender at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles, Adler was one of the first theologians to integrate feminist perspectives and concerns into the interpretation of Jewish texts and the renewal of Jewish law and ethics.  

  • From Reform Judaism, The Plagues of Our Time by Rabbi Rifat Sonsino, Ph.D. Rabbi Sonsino is rabbi emeritus of Temple Beth Shalom of Needham, Massachusetts, and a faculty member of the Theology Department at Boston College.

  • From Jewish Theological Seminary, posted on April 24, 2020, Living Outside the Camp by Jason Roof, Academic Director of Israel Programs, Assistant Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics.

  • From Jewish Theological Seminary, posted on April 28, 2017, Gender Inside and Outside the Tent by Joy Ladin, David and Ruth Gottesman Chair in English, Yeshiva University

Saturday, April 18, 2020

SHEMINI (also spelled Sh'mini), LEVITICUS 9:1-11:47

 

Saturday, April 11, 2020

D'VAR TORAH: A LOOK AT THE TORAH PORTION OF THE WEEK

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