• July 14, 2022

    In this week's D'var Torah, Rabbi Matthew Goldstone encourages us to see deeper meaning behind Bilaam’s blessings.

  • October 1, 2021

    Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah

    A D’var Torah for Parashat Bereisheet
    By Rabbi Matthew Goldstone

    As we once again begin our annual reading of the Torah, we anticipate the many rich stories that pervade the first book of the Bible. The narratives remain the same year after year, despite our hopes that perhaps this time our ancestors might not make the same mistakes that they did in the last Torah reading cycle. The first mistake that we encounter is of course the decision to eat from the forbidden fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden. The snake encourages Havah (a.k.a Eve) to have a taste and that fateful choice ultimately leads to the expulsion of humanity from that prehistoric paradise.

    Narrowing in on the dialogue between the snake and Havah, we find that the primordial mother of humanity does not articulate the prohibition as God Read More >

  • September 10, 2021

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    A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayeilekh
    By Rabbi Matthew Goldstone

    Shanah tovah! As we transition into a new Jewish year we also near the completion of our annual reading of the Torah and prepare to begin the cycle again. This week, at the beginning of parashat Vayeilekh, Moses speaks briefly to the Israelites before turning his attention to Joshua. With Joshua poised to take the helm, Moses offers him a few words of wisdom before he leads the people into the promised land. I would suggest that the beginning of our parasha not only offers sagacious advice for Joshua and the Israelites, but also provides important guidance and reminders for contemporary Jewish leaders. I would like to highlight three lessons that emerge as we look closely at the beginning of Deuteronomy 31.

    First, the very name of our parasha Read More >

  • January 29, 2021

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    A D’var Torah for Parashat Beshalah
    By Rabbi Matthew Goldstone

    We’re finally free! We have been released from the oppressive and heavy-hearted regime that not only oppressed our people, but wrought destruction on all of the inhabitants of the land. What was expected to be a long 400 years actually turned out to be even longer than anticipated. After so much suffering you’d think that we would like nothing better than to forget the whole incident and move forward. But, the trauma of our experience lingers with us and even overshadows our sense of the journey ahead.

    Our parasha this week begins with the words “When Pharaoh let the people go” (Exod. 13:17). It is true that Pharaoh finally released the Israelites, but this masks the true major catalysts for the Exodus – the cry Read More >

  • August 28, 2020

    A D’var Torah for Parashat Ki Teitzei
    By Rabbi Matthew Goldstone

    The topics of racism and racial justice have been on many of our minds over the past several months. One particular issue that I have been thinking about is that while many of us might decry racism, we may nevertheless unwittingly be participants in perpetuating policies and practices that reinforce racial inequality. We are not alone in this, nor is it a purely modern phenomenon. Already in the Torah we find judgmental assumptions based upon ancestry rather than individuality.

    Our parasha this week delineates several categories of people who are not permitted to enter into the congregation of the Israelites, including the Ammonites and the Moabites. Anyone belonging to these groups is automatically labelled as unacceptable because their ancestors “did not meet you with food and water on your journey after you left Egypt and because they hired Balaam son of Beor, Read More >

  • July 17, 2020


    A D’var Torah for Parashat Mattot
    By Rabbi Matthew Goldstone

    Our Torah portion this week teaches us not to promise what we cannot deliver: “If a person makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath imposing an obligation upon themself, they shall not break the pledge; they must carry out all that crossed their lips” (Num. 30:3). Despite the warning, many people make commitments that they do not end up fulfilling or give assurances for things they never intend to uphold. No wonder there is a strong tradition against taking oaths. We find this attitude in the rabbinic legal tradition when the major 16th century code of law, the Shulhan Arukh, states “Do not be accustomed to making vows and whoever vows – even if they fulfill it – is called a wicked person and is called a sinner” (Yoreh Deah 203:1). And fulfilling an oath might Read More >

  • June 28, 2019

    Grasshoppers and Giants
    A D’var Torah for Parashat Shelah Lekha
    By Rabbi Matthew Goldstone

    Parashat Shelah Lekha recounts the episode of the twelve spies who travel ahead to scout out the Promised Land. Ten of the spies return to the people with a report of the wonderful fruit of the land coupled with the overwhelming danger of its inhabitants. Not only do these ten spies describe the people of this place as gigantic (אַנְשֵׁי מִדּוֹת), but these scouts convey their own depiction of how these people perceived the intruders – “And we looked like grasshoppers (חֲגָבִים) to ourselves, and so we must have looked to them” (Num. 13:33). Their report strikes fear into the hearts of the Israelites who regret leaving Egypt and God gets angry.

    Readers often assume that the sin of the ten spies, and the reason for God’s anger, is that they suggest that the people of the land Read More >

  • January 24, 2019

    A D’var Torah for Parashat Yitro
    By Rabbi Matthew Goldstone

    At the beginning of this week’s parasha Moses’ father-in-law, Yitro, hears of “all that God had done for Moses and the Israelites” (Exod. 18:1) and he brings Moses’ wife and children to join the Israelites in the desert. Moses goes out to greet Yitro and warmly welcomes him into his tent. Moses then recounts to his father-in-law all of the miraculous deeds that God performed to bring the Israelites out of Egypt and Yitro rejoices (Exod. 18:8-9). But wait. If Yitro already heard about “all that God had done for Moses and the Israelites,” then why does he only rejoice after hearing all of this again from Moses? By this point the exodus is old news! Perhaps the answer lies not in the message but in the messenger. Hearing secondhand, even about miracles such as the splitting of the sea, Read More >

Rabbi Matthew Goldstone, PhD

Rabbi Matthew Goldstone, PhD, is the Assistant Academic Dean at the Academy for Jewish Religion where he teaches courses in Talmud and Jewish Law. Rabbi Goldstone is the author of The Dangerous Duty of Rebuke: Leviticus 19:17 in Early Jewish and Christian Interpretation.