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?
On Purim, we are rightly appalled by the fact that Haman wanted to destroy the Jewish people. Yet we seldom notice that we were commanded to do the very same thing to Haman’s people, to Amalek, in Exodus 17, which we read on Purim morning, and Deutoronomy 25, which we read on Shabbat Zakhor.
Dr. Tamar Kadari, Dean of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and lecturer for Midrash and Aggadah, grounds the often inaccessible stories of sacrifice in reality. She tells an insightful story of when King Agrippa demanded to have exclusive rights to bring sacrifices to God at the Temple.
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.
Rabbi Dr. Reb Mimi Feigelson, Mashpiah Ruchanit (Spiritual Mentor) and senior lecturer of Rabbinics and Chassidic Thought at the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, relates to the fifth aliyah of the Parasha:
Rabbi Avi Novis-Deutsch, Dean of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, talks about the significance of the laws governing the Mishkan and the priests’ clothing. How does each garment help the Cohen elevate Israel?
In the portion of Yitro, we read the lofty words which describe the revelation of God at Mt. Sinai: “If you will obey Me faithfully and keep My covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all the peoples… but you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6); “I am the Lord your God… You shall have no other gods… Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy… Honor your father and mother… You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal” (20: 1-14). Furthermore, these lofty words were uttered in a very impressive fashion: “All the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the blare of the shofar and the mountain smoking” (20:15).