Category Archives: Parshat HaShavuah

Sufficient Meaning?

The Torah’s written words are not sufficient.   It is the reading of the word and not the word alone that produces meaning.  Meaning appears when timely experiences enter into conversation with the timeless text. Rashi, the great commentator, gives an … Continue reading

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The Lulav: Pointing To Creator and Creature at the Season of Creation

It is the manner of earthly monarchs to extend the scepter with favor towards a subject.  During Sukkot, when the lulav becomes the scepter, it is the earthly, earthy subject who extends the scepter with favor towards the horizons and … Continue reading

Posted in Holidays, Midrash, Parshat HaShavuah, Poetry | 4 Comments

Risking the Red Sea

In an essay called On Risk and Solitude, psychotherapist Adam Phillips reports an important lesson learned by a young patient who overcame his fear of the water through risk: I knew I was safer out of my depth because even … Continue reading

Posted in Midrash, Parshat HaShavuah | 6 Comments

The Living Gathering of Ancestors

The parshah that recounts the death of Jacob begins:  VaYechi Ya’akov/ Jacob lived.  Some see in this beginning a testimony to unending vitality despite death. Jacob, aware that his life is ending, says:  I am to be gathered to my … Continue reading

Posted in Midrash, Parshat HaShavuah, Poetry | 1 Comment

The Pit in Joseph

The story of Joseph begins in parshat VaYeshev where his rise to power begins in a pit:  They [Joseph’s brothers] took him and threw him into a pit (Genesis 27:31). A short midrash explores the effect of this moment on … Continue reading

Posted in Midrash, Parshat HaShavuah, Poetry | 2 Comments

Naming the Angel

At the end of a night-long struggle, Jacob earned a new name from his assailant—Israel, the one who prevailed over God. In return, Jacob asked:  Please tell me your name.  And he replied:  Why do you ask my name? (Genesis … Continue reading

Posted in Angels, Midrash, Names, Parshat HaShavuah, Poetry | 2 Comments

A God Who Takes Place

Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran (Genesis 28:10).  The landscape is a blur as Jacob makes his escape from his vengeful brother, Esau. But Jacob’s headlong flight stills at a certain place, at the place: And he came … Continue reading

Posted in Midrash, Parshat HaShavuah, Poetry | 1 Comment

Isaac’s Blindness, As the Story Is Told

When Isaac was old, his eyes grew too dim to see (Genesis 27:1). Isaac’s blindness—the first infirmity mentioned in Scripture—sets the stage for deception and for two brothers’ struggle over a birthright and a blessing.  For one ancient sage, Isaac’s … Continue reading

Posted in Midrash, Parshat HaShavuah, Poetry | 5 Comments

Abraham, the Son: The Image Maker and Image Breaker

There is an ancient story about Abraham smashing all the idols in his father’s shop to prove that the idols were only statues, not gods.  As a child, I always thought that this story was in the Torah, so often … Continue reading

Posted in Parshat HaShavuah, Poetry, Torah | 1 Comment

Noah’s Flood: Outer Landscape and Inner World

An ancient sage and a modern poet, each named Yehuda, give different life to the images of the biblical flood story. The terrain of the flooded world reminded the 4th century sage, Rabbi Yehuda ben Simon, of Psalm 36:7:  Your … Continue reading

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