וְיֵעָשׂוּ כֻלָּם אֲגֻדָּה אֶחָת לַעֲשׂוֹת רְצוֹנְךָ בְּלֵבָב שָׁלֵם

All shall unite to do God's will with an open heart.

וְיֵעָשׂוּ כֻלָּם אֲגֻדָּה אֶחָת לַעֲשׂוֹת רְצוֹנְךָ בְּלֵבָב שָׁלֵם

All shall unite to do God's will with an open heart.

10 01, 2023

Parashat Shemot 5783

By |2023-05-03T12:10:19-04:00January 10, 2023|

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

A D’var Torah for Parashat Shemot
By Rabbi Katy Allen (’05)

I’m glad I wasn’t an Egyptian back then.
I’m glad I wasn’t there
to be ordered by Pharaoh
to throw newborn babies
into the river. (Exodus 1:22)

Although, I’ve heard that I might not necessarily
have had to drown any babies myself ‒
I might, instead, have had to force my neighbors,
the Israelites,
to drown their own babies (Or HaHaim).
I’m glad I didn’t have to do that either.

It’s also possible,
the whispers through the generations tell me ‒
and I shudder in response ‒
that if I myself had given birth
the day that Moses was born,
I might have had to kill my own baby,
Egyptian though he would have been. (Sotah 12a)
Of all the terrible things our sacred tradition tells us

that Pharaoh did,
I find that telling his own people
to snatch up baby Read More >

3 03, 2022

Parashat Pekudei 5782

By |2022-11-09T14:59:21-05:00March 3, 2022|

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Making Space
A D’var Torah for Parashat Pekudei
By Rabbi Lizz Goldstein (’16)

Some weeks feel like there is just so much ungodliness in the world; it’s hard to know where to even begin shining the light of Torah. I believe in the power of Torah, of the Divine, of our spiritual connections, to help clear away the shadows of sadness and fear, but sometimes there are just too many shadows to get all of them, and I just feel overwhelmed.

In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Pekudei, our scripture may not directly address the horrors of war in Europe, refugees traversing continents, impending climate disaster, changes to public health recommendations that will surely continue to drag out the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, nor the regressive laws across the country right now attacking the bodily autonomy of people with uteruses and the rights of Read More >

24 02, 2022

Parashat Vayakhel – Shabbat Shekalim 5782

By |2022-11-09T14:58:58-05:00February 24, 2022|

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Generosity and Commitment
A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayakhel
By Rabbi Enid Lader (’10)

Voluntary gifts from every quarter of the Israelite population formed the material out of which the Mishkan and its sacred vessels and priestly clothing were crafted and built. There was no imposed special tax for this purpose, but merely the request for voluntary individual contributions: “Take from among you gifts to the Eternal; everyone whose heart so moves him shall bring them—gifts for the Eternal…” (Exodus 35:5).

And bring they did, with such exuberance and generosity that those in charge of the project begged Moses to end the campaign: “The people are bringing more than is needed for the tasks entailed in the work that the Eternal has commanded to be done” (Exodus 36:5).

Thus, we have the first building campaign that Read More >

17 02, 2022

Parashat Ki Tissa 5782

By |2022-11-09T14:58:35-05:00February 17, 2022|

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Do You Resolve Conflicts Aaron’s Way or Moses’ Way?
A D’var Torah for Parashat Ki Tissa
By Rabbi Rob Scheinberg

What’s the best way to get two people in a conflict to be reconciled with each other?

Avot De-Rabbi Natan – an early commentary to the Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot) – imagines the conflict resolution strategy employed by Moses’ brother Aaron. When Aaron would see two people in conflict, he would go to one of them and say, “Your friend has just come crying to me, saying ‘Woe is me, that I have offended my friend! Aaron, please go and request forgiveness on my behalf!’” Aaron would sit with him until his anger subsided, and then Aaron would go to the other friend and say exactly the same thing. When the two friends would see each other, they would hug each other, and their conflict would Read More >

10 02, 2022

Parashat Tetzaveh 5782

By |2022-11-09T14:58:25-05:00February 10, 2022|

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A D’var Torah for Parashat Tetzaveh
By Rabbi Marc Rudolph (’04)

The final fifteen chapters of the Book of Exodus are devoted to the building of the Mishkan. This comprises over one quarter of the entire book. This year, since it is a leap year, we will spend a full five Shabbatot reading about this, in exquisite detail, in our synagogues. The midrash connects the completion of the Tabernacle with Creation itself. The story of Creation and the story of the construction of the Tabernacle are the only places in all of scripture where the verbs “to complete”, “to sanctify” and “to bless” are used together. (Midrash Tanhuma Pekudei 2:3) Yet it is striking how much more time the Torah spends on the building of the Tabernacle compared to the relatively succinct description of the creation of the universe in the Book of Genesis.  Read More >

4 02, 2022

Parashat Terumah 5782

By |2022-11-09T14:58:15-05:00February 4, 2022|

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A D’var Torah for Parashat Terumah
By Rabbi Doug Alpert (’12)

My original D’var Torah which I wrote on Sunday afternoon appears below. However, on Sunday evening many in our AJR community gathered (via Zoom) to share memories of our teacher, Rabbi Yitzchak Mann z”l. Dr. Ora Horn Prouser as our teacher and Academic Dean shared a D’var Torah which, like my D’var Torah referenced the poles of the Ark contained within the Mishkan – our Holy Tabernacle. With that experience I would feel remiss if I did not dedicate this D’var Torah to the memory of Rabbi Mann. As it was said on Sunday evening, Rabbi Mann was not only an extraordinary teacher of Torah, but someone who through his gentle and generous spirit lived Torah.

So how did I draw the short straw. In its droning on and on with instructions for building the Mishkan Read More >

27 01, 2022

Parashat Mishpatim 5782

By |2022-11-09T14:58:05-05:00January 27, 2022|

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A D’var Torah For Parashat Mishpatim
By Rabbi Jeffrey Segelman

Parashat Mishpatim includes the mitzvot pertaining to one who is responsible for guarding something owned by another. Similarly, it speaks of the responsibility of one who borrows something from another (Exodus 22:9-14). Without going into detail, the Torah points to the difference in obligation depending upon whether the “shomeir,” the one who is watching the item, has been paid for his efforts or not. It also depends on the degree of reasonable concern and/or negligence that the person demonstrated. Obviously, these laws have great application in the lives of people who wish to live together in peace.

There may also be great spiritual significance to this idea. But in order to discuss it, let us first digress.

A few weeks ago, when we read the conclusion of Shirat HaYam, we listened as Moses and Read More >

21 01, 2022

Parashat Yitro 5782

By |2022-11-09T14:57:56-05:00January 21, 2022|

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

This week the American Jewish community finds itself processing the events of last Shabbat, during which a rabbi and three congregants were taken hostage in Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. As a minority in the United States, many are reflecting on the dangers of being Jewish in this moment. Our parasha this week mentions the names of Moshe’s sons, the meanings of which echo sentiments some of us may be feeling: Gershom, “I have been a stranger in a foreign land,” and Eliezer, “The God of my father was my help, and God delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh” (Exod. 18:3-4). In some ways, despite having been a presence in North America for hundreds of years, we are still strangers, those who are misunderstood Read More >

14 01, 2022

Parashat Beshalah – 5782

By |2022-11-09T14:57:45-05:00January 14, 2022|

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A D’var Torah for Parashat Beshalah
By Rabbi Jill Hackell (’13)

The Book of Exodus starts with the heroism of the midwives, who refuse to abide by Pharaoh’s terrible decree to kill the newborn boys born to the Israelites.  This introduction provides an interesting lens through which to view our parashah of Beshalah. (Full disclaimer: my daughter-in-law is a midwife, and I am a loyal viewer of the PBS show “Call the Midwife.” And I am a mother).

In our parashah, the Israelites who have grown up in Egypt have left to begin their journey, but their way is blocked by the sea. At God’s command, Moses lifts up his arm over the sea, and God drove back the sea. The text tells us, “The waters were split, and the Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on Read More >

7 01, 2022

Parashat Bo -5782

By |2022-11-09T14:57:37-05:00January 7, 2022|

Click HERE for an audio recording of this Dvar Torah

A D’var Torah for Parashat Bo
By Rabbi Michael Rothbaum (’06)There’s a well-known rabbinic discussion in the beginning of the Torah about the book of Genesis. The question is asked: why start there, when the mitzvot, the sacred obligations of the Jewish people, don’t appear until Exodus?

The conversations around that question are fascinating. (See, for instance, Rashi’s discussion here). But it’s in this week’s reading, Parashat Bo, that those mitzvot show up — primarily among them, the first Passover meal. In that elemental mitzvah, we see a template for all mitzvot to come.

First, some context. The first Pesah lands in between miracles. The Israelites have just witnessed nine plagues, as the once-great Egyptian empire has been brought low. Though they don’t know it yet, they are about to experience redemption at the Red Sea. For now, Read More >

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