Weekly-Torah-Portion

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Lech L'cha

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 12:00am

Genesis 12:1−17:27 


By Rabbi Stephen S. Pearce, Ph.D. for ReformJudaism.org


Searching Oneself on the Way Forward


After World War II, the birthrate for Shoah survivors of childbearing age living in displaced persons camps was one of the highest ever recorded anywhere. Although these parents had witnessed Nazi atrocities, they were so imbued with optimism and an unshakable faith in the future that they began families in record numbers even before they knew how or where they would live. 


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Noach

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 12:00am

Genesis 6:9−11:32 


By Rabbi Stephen S. Pearce, Ph.D. for ReformJudaism.org


Finding Wholeheartedness in Your Life


In Parashat Noach, the designation of Noah as an, ish tzaddik tamim, a “blameless” or “wholehearted person in his age” (Genesis 6:9) provides an opportunity to focus on a biblical model for a behavioral ideal. Although Noah’s inner life does not match his behavior. Commentators frequently criticized his conduct, including a lack of compassion and incest.1 Nevertheless, the designation of Noah as wholehearted provides grist for understanding the biblical view of ideal behavior.


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Bereshit

Mon, 10/01/2018 - 12:00am

Genesis. 1:1−6:8 


By Rabbi Stephen S. Pearce, Ph.D. for ReformJudaism.org


Eden Defines the Truth About Responsibility


What could have possibly have been so bad about taking just one bite from a piece of fruit? But in Parashat B’reishit, the fruit Eve served to Adam was not just any fruit; it was fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and bad. Adam ate and did not ask any questions about where that delectable morsel came from. Consequently, that feast turned out to be Adam and Eve’s last supper, their last free meal, because they were expelled from the Garden of Eden immediately following dessert.


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Shabbat Chol Hamoed Sukkot

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 12:00am

Exodus 33:12-34:26; Maftir Numbers 29:17-22


Rabbi Professor Marc Saperstein for ReformJudaism.org


The Sukkah and the Jewish Experience


The biblical explanation for the sukkah is that the Israelites were commanded to dwell in these habitations for one week during the year “in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I the Eternal your God” (Leviticus 23:43). This dwelling in “booths” is not just a historical fact that has to be learned, like the account of the binding of Isaac as read on Rosh HaShanah, or the bravery of Mordecai and Esther as read in the M’gillah on Purim. It is more like matzah and maror eaten on Pesach, a message so important that it must be not only learned and memorized, but also experienced, year after year. And the reason for this is that it is not simply part of the distant past. It is a lesson with ongoing experience. Let us focus on two aspects of the sukkah as a symbol of Jewish experience not just millennia ago, but bearing a message of ongoing significance.

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Haazinu

Mon, 09/17/2018 - 12:00am

Deuteronomy 32:1–52 


By Rabbi Professor Marc Saperstein for ReformJudaism.org


Remember the Days of Old


Haazinu is powerful poetry, often difficult both in its language and in its message. The verses near the beginning of the parashah seem less a farewell address from Moses than a prophetic diatribe and fearsome warning. The basic pattern is clear: it speaks of the unmerited, beneficent gifts God gave to the people of Israel, their insensitive lack of gratitude and betrayal of their Benefactor, and the resulting divine anger leading God to a promise of frightful punishments, stopping just short of annihilation (Deuteronomy 32:8–26). The message is that in times when things seem to be going well, when the Jewish people are prospering, thriving economically, comfortable with their lives, they are most likely to forsake the Eternal and turn to false gods that begin to demand their loyalty and allegiance. Each generation may indeed draw a message for themselves about the implications regarding their own society.

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Vayeilech

Mon, 09/10/2018 - 12:00am

Deuteronomy 31:1–30


RABBI REUVEN FIRESTONE, FOR REFORMJUDAISM.ORG


On Repentance and Seeking Peace Above and Below


"And Moses went (Vayeilech) and spoke these words to all Israel" (Deuteronomy 31:1). This opening marks the beginning, not only of the parashah, but also of the long death scene for Moses that will not be completed until the very end of the Torah two portions hence. Traditional commentators noticed an unusual locution. Usually the Torah reads "And Moses spoke … " Only here does it say "And Moses went and spoke … "

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Nitzavim

Mon, 09/03/2018 - 12:00am

Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20 

 

By Rabbi Reuven Firestone for ReformJudaism.org

 

Collective Responsibility, One for All and All for One

 

Nitzavim comes in the cycle of Torah readings just before Rosh HaShanah and is particularly appropriate for the High Holidays because it stresses the importance of repentance. The tone of the passage is at once both lofty and terrifying.

It begins with Moses' inspiring address to the entire people of Israel shortly before he is to die, "You stand this day (Atem nitzavim hayom), all of you, before the Eternal your God — you tribal heads, you elders, and you officials, all the men of Israel, you children, you women, even the stranger within your camp, from woodchopper to water drawer" (Deuteronomy 29:9-10).


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Ki Tavo

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 12:00am

Deuteronomy 26:1–29:8 


By Rabbi Professor Marc Saperstein, for ReformJudaism.org


God’s Punishments: Or Are They?


Parashat Ki Tavo contains one of the most powerful and frightening chapters of the Torah. Fourteen verses (Deuteronomy 28:1–14) outline all the good things that will happen to the people if they obey God and faithfully observe all of the divine commandments. That’s “the good news.” Then come 54 verses (28:15–69) warning of the antithesis: the curses that will befall the people if they do not faithfully observe all the commandments. This is the most terrifying litany portraying various kinds of Jewish suffering in our classical literature. Because of its content, for years no one wanted to have the aliyah in which this passage was read, and it was sometimes given to the town fool. In traditional practice, it is chanted at breakneck speed in a soft voice, loud enough to hear but only if one strains a little.


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Did You Know...?

Thank You Rabbi Isserow!

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Lifelong Learning

Wednesdays during the school year
@ 7:00 PM
See calendar for exact dates and subjects

 

ALIVE!

For more information about ALIVE! go to alive-inc.org.

 

 

Upcoming Events

Please sign up for Ushering at Beth El for Friday Night Services 

This is a great opportunity to see and meet fellow congregants.Please use the link below to sign up:

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040a4bafab22a57-ushering1 

 

November 4th,2018

2:00pm - 5:00pm Simply Majj

 

Important Shabbat Updates!   

* Beginning on September 7th, Shabbat services start

at 7:30 PM  

                                            


 

There are activities, meetings, services and seminars at Beth El each week, ranging from service opportunities to Jewish learning and education, drawing members and guests from throughout the Washington, D.C. area.

the full calendar