This week in Parshat Terumah Moses and the Israelites are given detailed instructions on how to construct the Tabernacle in the wilderness. How do we make sense of this detailed blueprint: “Make five posts of acacia wood for the screen and overlay them with gold—their hooks being of gold—and cast for them five sockets of copper?” Dr. Paul Mandel, senior lecturer in Midrash at The Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, offers an intriguing explanation for the uses of different materials in the construction of the tabernacle and the special dividing curtain.
This week in Parshat Yitro The Ten Commandments are revealed, and with them another lens of viewing God. Dr. Ari Ackerman, Dean of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and Senior Lecturer in Jewish Thought, calls attention to one of the great debates of Jewish Thought between Judah HaLevi and Maimonides. Should we view God through the lens of power as seen in history or through the lens of wisdom as seen in our natural surroundings?
Rabbi Dr. Paul Shrell-Fox, Lecturer in Family and Community Studies, offers a play-by-play on the negotiations between Moses and Aaron and Pharaoh. Pleading on behalf of the Israelites, Moses leads an epic battle between Pharaoh, who considers himself a god, and the God of Israel.
Rabbi Avi Novis-Deutsch, Dean of Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, invites us to consider the varied roles God plays in our lives. In Parshat Shemot, when God says “I will be what I will be,” God give us permission to imagine the Divine in many different ways.
Rabbi Dr. Reb Mimi Feigelson, Mashpiah Ruhanit (Spiritual Mentor) and senior lecturer of Rabbinics and Hasidic Thought at the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, explores Jacob’s identity when he is on his deathbed. Jacob, also known as Israel, articulates his values as he dies and how he wants his descendants, the Children of Israel, to live.
Jacob is blessed with many children but is it too much of a good thing? Using an example of the midrashic technique of notarikon – rearranging or deriving meaning from the individual letters of a word – Tamar Kadari, Senior Lecturer in Midrash, teaches how Joseph’s famous (technicolor dream) coat ended up becoming a source of division in his family.
Is Jacob caught in a dream or in reality in Parshat Vayetze? Dr. Shula Laderman, lecturer in Judaism and the Arts, collaborated with world renowned artist, Avner Moriah, to create The Illuminated Torah, a collection of 54 paintings representing each of the weekly Torah portions. How do the colors in the painting and the position of the ladder influence our understanding of Jacob’s dream?
In this week’s Torah portion, Vayera, it is many years later. Abraham and Sarah live in Hebron, about 40 miles South of Jerusalem, when he is called with the same words “Lech Lecha”, but this time he is told exactly where he is going and why – to the Land of Moriah, the same spot where the Temple and Dome of the Rock would later be built, to sacrifice his son Isaac. The journey that began years earlier for Abraham’s benefit is ominously transformed, and the extra, emphatic word, “Lecha” has a different meaning. Abraham is told to look into himself in order to summon the strength for this final test.
Why Abraham? In Parshat Lech Lecha God appoints Abraham to be the leader of nations. What made Abraham stand out? While on a trip to Italy, Dr. Paul Mandel, Senior Lecturer in Midrash and Aggadah, saw an ancient building that reminded him of a rabbinic parable where Abraham witnesses a building burning. With all the terrible things occurring in the world who will put out the flames? Find out how Abraham responded.