Category Archives: Changing Notions of Torah

Torah Today: Create and Grow

Emily Goldberg
May 31, 2012

Throughout my childhood, the Torah was considered a sacred object, one that was covered in velvet and locked away in an ominous closet each week. This heavy scroll was associated with thoughts of horror and shame when dropped on the floor; it was revered and acclaimed after surviving another entire year without blemishes or god More »


The Gift of Torah

Rabbi Steven I. Rein
May 29, 2012

Shavuot is z’man matan torateinu – the time of the giving of the Torah. Midrash Bereishit Rabbah (6:17) describes Torah as one of three gifts that were given to the world, as it says, quoting Exodus 31:18: “When God finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, God gave – gifted – Moses the two tablets More »


Learning to Learn

Avram Mlotek
May 24, 2012

It’s 12:30pm and depending on the content, learning partner, moment or mood, I am fully present.  The fact that I have been spending the past four hours pouring over pages of the Gemara and commentaries gets magically lost in passionate discourse.  But then there are days when I nearly dash from the Beit Midrash (Learning Home, House of More »


The Talmud Exam

Rabbi Julie Pelc Adler
May 23, 2012

The philosopher and the scientist Sit, brows furrowed Over the pages of worried Hebrew While the poet watches. “Nikarin divrei emet” “True words are recognizable” Talmud Bavli, Sotah 9b Wisdom, resting beside stories Of women suspected of adultery and Forced to drink bitter waters A magic potion To discern truth.


God, Jeremiah, and the Closet

Alex Braver
May 17, 2012


In keeping with this months theme of “claiming Torah,” I think that the book of Jeremiah can have incredible emotional resonance when viewed through the lens of the “closet”. It is a story that can be claimed by LGBT Jews and their allies as a powerful expression of some of their own personal narratives. “The closet” functions a metaphor that describes how a person keeps an essential secret deeply hidden, how a person may experience this hiding-of-self, and how a person may choose to selectively reveal this secret. The metaphor of the “closet” can therefore be used to explore the difference between one’s outward presentation and one’s inward feelings, regardless of whether or not they are connected to one’s sexual identity. More »


The Heretical Blessings of Torah

Rabbi Juan Mejia
May 14, 2012

Most of my rabbinical activity is dedicated to teaching people who did not grow up with a clearly defined Jewish identity or who are converting to the Jewish people from without.  In this capacity,  I had always found it very challenging to teach Tanach to this crowd.  It was easy to teach them Jewish Law More »


Finding My Torah

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster
May 10, 2012

I do Jewish social justice for a living—deep, complicated campaigns that require a grasp of political and legal issues beyond the headlines and shouting points. Since my ordination as a rabbi four years ago, my work at Rabbis for Human Rights-North America has enabled me to delve into philosophic books about torture, questions of constitutional More »