• July 8, 2022

    In this week's D'var Torah, Rabbi Ariann Weitzman shows how Parashat Hukkat provides a recipe for communal care that is not a burden to individuals but is a shared obligation across the community.

  • August 26, 2021

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    A D’var Torah for Parashat Ki Tavo
    By Rabbi Ariann Weitzman (’11)Many of us spend an incredible amount of time figuring out how to make someone else listen, whether it’s to our instructions, our needs, our anxieties, or just our day-to-day thoughts and feelings. Listening seems like it’s in short supply. Wanting to be heard, however, is abundant. Moses was no stranger to this phenomenon. His speeches make up the bulk of the book of Deuteronomy. And his repeated command, “Listen!” peppers these speeches.

    In this week’s parashah, Ki Tavo, Moses elevates the pitch of his final speech, detailing a dramatic series of blessings and curses that will be spoken to the people by the priests once they enter the land of Canaan, as the people stand up on two opposing hilltops. If his words aren’t enough to make Read More >

  • July 2, 2021

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    A D’var Torah for Parashat Pinhas
    By Rabbi Ariann Weitzman (’11)

    Parashat Pinhas’ eponymous lead character is an unusual one, with his very brief story spanning two parashiyot. Last week in parashat Balak, we read about Pinhas’ zealotry in killing two people, whose names are later revealed to be Cozbi and Zimri, who he believed to be part of a mass Israelite descent into Moabite idolatry and away from God, spurred on by sexually immoral behavior between Israelite men and Moabite and Midianite women. In response to his act, God abruptly ends a plague which had been terrorizing the Israelite encampment, purportedly as a punishment for this idolatry. Thus ends last week’s parasha. While perhaps we’re used to overzealous or even violent acts coming to good ends in Torah, the beginning of this week’s parasha might still Read More >

  • May 7, 2021

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    A D’var Torah for Parashiyot Behar- Behukotai
    By Rabbi Ariann weitzman (’11)

    Our double portion this week, parashiyot Behar-Behukotai, offers a connected vision of a world founded on basic trust in the systems of nature as an expression of God’s abundant grace. Parashat Behar begins by instructing us in the laws of the sabbatical and Jubilee years. Every seven years, we must let land lay fallow. Every 50 years, we must let the land rest an additional year, free individuals enslaved by their debts, and let land revert to its ancestral holdings. Along the way, objections are raised: How can you sell land knowing it must revert back to its original owner in just a few years? How do we deal with houses in cities or small villages? How can we truly believe that food will be provided for Read More >

  • March 12, 2021

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    A D’var Torah for Parshiyot Vayakhel-Pekudei
    By Rabbi Ariann Weitzman (’11)

    Parshiyot Vayakhel-Pekudei recount the building, but more importantly, the embellishment, of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, according to detailed instructions given in last week’s parashah. This lavish description of fabrics, stones, weaving, woodworking, and artisanship comes on the heels of the building and destruction of the Golden Calf. There are some commentators who read the Golden Calf and the Tabernacle as two potential ends to the same impulse: a desire to build a physical presence to represent the ineffable, and to create a home for worship and supplication.

    While the episode of the Golden Calf represented the worst possible process for building a site for communal worship, the Tabernacle represented the best. While the Golden Calf was constructed under the leadership of Aaron, who failed to either provide authority Read More >

  • January 15, 2021

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    A D’var Torah for Parashat Va’eira
    By Rabbi Ariann Weitzman (’11)Parashat Va’eira describes the first public attempts to free the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. Moses and Aaron make the first pleas for freedom, Pharaoh pushes back, and most of the plagues are unleashed on the Egyptian people in a cycle of escalating consequences for Pharaoh’s hard-heartedness.

    Although parashat Va’eira represents the first time the Israelites have had a public leader, a loud and impassioned voice in Pharaoh’s court, arguing for their freedom, it is not actually the beginning of the stirrings of liberation. It is not even the beginning of the fight for liberation. Instead, it represents a final stage of organized Israelite power, the culmination of years of private resistance.

    We can see the beginnings of this private resistance in last week’s parasha, Shemot. The representatives of that resistance Read More >

  • November 19, 2020
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    A D’var Torah for Parashat Toledot
    By Rabbi Ariann Weitzman (’11)

    Parashat Toledot traces the arc of the patriarch Isaac’s life from the beginnings of his married life to his old age. Along the way, seemingly more energetic actors plot and scheme around him: his wife Rebecca, his sons Jacob and Esau, even his neighbors, the Philistines. Isaac’s primary virtue appears to be naivety.

    Some readers find Isaac’s character to be one of extended adolescence, always traveling in his parents’ footsteps, repeating the steps of their lives, and never venturing forth on his own. One might say that he has a failure to launch. Instead of going out to find a wife, one is brought to him. Instead of leaving the land of Canaan in time of famine to improve his fate, he stays close to home. Read More >

  • May 17, 2012

    By Rabbi Ariann Weitzman

    “It should not be believed that all the beings exist for the sake of the existence of humanity. On the contrary, all the other beings too have been intended for their own sakes, and not for the sake of something else” (Maimonides, Guide for the Perplexed, 3:13).

    This week’s double portion elaborates on the laws of the sabbatical and Jubilee years, detailing the extreme punishment Israel will suffer if the sabbatical years are not strictly kept. The parashah opens with the reminder that these laws were given on Sinai, orienting the reader to the centrality and importance of what is to follow. Indeed, these laws must be central to the Torah’s concern, as the texts reminds us we will be removed from our land as a result of failing to abide by them, as it is written in Leviticus 26:43, “The land will be bereft of [the Israelites] Read More >

Rabbi Ariann Weitzman

Rabbi Ariann Weitzman (AJR ‘11) is the Associate Rabbi and Director of Congregational Learning for Bnai Keshet Reconstructionist Synagogue in Montclair, NJ.