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Torah Commentary Blog

Temple Emanu-El’s Torah commentaries are prepared by members of our clergy, senior staff, Religious School faculty and Saturday morning Torah Study group. Blog comments are moderated. Please note that we reserve the right to delete comments that are deemed inappropriate, use offensive language, promote personal attacks or are self-serving (promote goods and services). At the same time, we hope that this blog will promote thoughtful dialogue and continued learning. If you are a temple member interested in joining our team of writers, contact Prince Davis.



Parashat Mikeitz (December 16, 2017)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
THE STORY OF JOSEPH IS FAMILIAR TO MOST OF US. We read it in Sunday School, and in case we were absent that day, the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat provided an enjoyable recap. We are told the story has a happy ending. Joseph is sold into slavery, but he uses his wits and interprets Pharaoh’s dreams, and Pharaoh makes him the Number 2 man in Egypt. Then his brothers come to Egypt looking for food, and after various deceptions and revelations, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and is reunited with them and his father. And everyone lives happily ever after.

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Parashat Vayeishev (December 9, 2017)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
MY MOTHER-IN-LAW ATTENDED SATURDAY MORNING SERVICES AT TEMPLE EMANU-EL REGULARLY. One day, she returned in a state of high agitation. “The Torah portion that the rabbi read this morning was very disturbing!” she exclaimed. “I hope they don’t teach portions like that to children! They are entirely unsuitable.”

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Parashat Vayishlach (December 2, 2017)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
ANY WOMAN WHO HAS GIVEN BIRTH WILL SYMPATHIZE WITH RACHEL’S PLIGHT. After yearning for years for a baby and finally giving birth to Joseph, she becomes pregnant a second time, only to find herself in labor on the way to Bethlehem. Unable to reach the city, or even an inn or a tent, she is forced to give birth on the side of the road. As a result, Jacob’s favorite wife finds herself dying, unable to enjoy her second son or to see her other child grow to adulthood.

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Parashat Chayei Sarah (November 11, 2017)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
WHILE THE TITLE OF THIS PARASHAH translates as “Sarah’s Life,” it is really about Sarah’s death. In the previous section, Vayeira, it appears that Abraham never mentioned to his wife that he was taking their only son off to a mountain to sacrifice him to the Lord. As a mother, I am sure that Sarah would have objected loudly to the idea, had she known.

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Parashat Noach (October 21, 2017)
By Bettijane Eisenpreis
AS I WRITE THIS, the first flight after Hurricane Maria has just reached New York City from Puerto Rico. I have not seen a photo of passengers kissing the ground, but I can well imagine that, after being battered by the storm, they might feel like doing so. In my apartment building, we still are waiting for word of the doorman who went to Puerto Rico on vacation. Another staff member tells me that his mother is frantic; her brother and his whole family live there, and she has not heard from them.

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