When it comes to educating students, teacher often ask which is more persuasive: the carrot or the stick? Was the the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai really frightening or a was it a loving moment?
Is Parashat Bamidbar a period of rebellion and complaints or is it, as stated in Jeremiah, God and Israel’s honeymoon period? Dr. David Frankel, Senior Lecturer in Bible at The Schechter Institutes, suggests that the parasha and the entire book of Bamidbar (Numbers), with its depictions of the Israelites in the wilderness, teaches us an important lesson. We are not entrapped by our past memory and history. We can forge our destiny by by deciding how we want to see our future.
Dr. Gila Vachman, lecturer in Midrash and Aggadah, sheds light on this sensitive issue. The Kohanim who were physically “blemished,” actually received symbolic tasks within the temple rituals.
Now that we have celebrated the first days of Passover, let’s revisit the story of Exodus with Rabbi Dr. Paul Shrell-Fox, Looking at the events of the Exodus and our knowledge of Egyptian deities, God’s role as described in the Haggadah and around the seder table takes on new meaning.
Noting the verb roots of the verse, Eitan Cooper, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of The Schechter Institutes calls attention to a Talmudic debate between Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmani and Resh Lakish on how men and women were created. This debate shows how even the ancient scholars engaged in debates on gender identity and sexual orientation.
Parashat Shemini: “Vayidom Aharon.” Aaron was silent, says the text. Was it shocked silence? Perhaps. Or, perhaps, it was silence which results from the depth of one’s emotions, too overwhelming to express in words?
Dr. Einat Ramon, Senior Lecturer in Jewish Thought and founder of the Marpeh pastoral care program, discusses the complicated relationship in Parashat Pekuidei between physical esthetics and spiritual sanctity.
Rabbi Dr. Reb Mimi Feigelson, Mashpiah Ruchanit (Spiritual Mentor) and senior lecturer of Rabbinics and Chassidic Thought at the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, imagines a live demonstration of Parashat Vayakhel:“I got the phone call from that organization, yes, the one that I actually donated to two months ago, asking for yet another donation!” Would you see this as an annoyance or as an invitation to give again?
Dr. Shula Laderman, draws comparisons between the Israelites giving gifts. First there is the problematic giving of gold and silver for the construction of the golden calf. Then in Vayakhel there is the redemptive giving of gold, silver and mirrors for the construction of the Tabernacle and the laver, a basin used for ritual washing.