Exodus 25:1 - 27:19
Rabbi Brent C. Spodek for myjewishlearning.com
In Forgiveness, Making Space for the Divine
To forgive is to hold on to the future more tightly than the past.
A dear friend recently got a letter that is rearranging her life.
Her childhood was difficult — screaming fights, police intervention when her father got violent, constant fear. Her body and soul were scarred by her father, and then one day she came home from middle school and her father was gone, never to be heard from again.
Shabbat Shekalim - Mishpatim
Exodus 21:1 - 24:18
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg for myjewishlearning.com
Ascending the Mountain
The work of covenant involves a lot less feeling and a lot more action.
All too often, we think about connection with the sacred — with the holy, with God — as being about warm, fuzzy feelings. Those profound moments in prayer and meditation when something feels like it’s opening up, even just a little. And yet. Parashat Mishpatim makes it clear that even the most powerful theophany isn’t, in the scheme of things, all that important.
The work of covenant, this portion shows us, is sometimes daily and plodding — involving a lot less feeling and a lot more action. It’s not a coincidence that Mishpatim also includes the commandments neither to mistreat the stranger nor oppress the widow or the orphan. It also demands that we not charge interest in moneylending, not follow the masses in doing evil, not spread false rumors, not subvert the rights of the needy and that we rest on Shabbat.
Exodus 18:1 - 20:23
Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels for myjewishlearning.com
Negative and Positive Freedom
We are called on daily to "proclaim liberty throughout the land."
In this week’s Torah portion, Yitro, we read of the revelation at Sinai that follows last week’s Exodus from Egypt. What is this relationship between freedom and revelation, between Exodus and Sinai?
The Hasidic master R. Yehudah Leib Alter of Ger explains that Sinai follows the Exodus because “the purpose of all the commandments…is so that every person of Israel be free (Sefat Emet, Language of Truth, pp. 319-320).” Revelation follows liberation because while freedom might have been initiated at the Exodus, it is only completed at Sinai.
Yet what kind of freedom is this? What kind of freedom is maintained by the revelation of laws and commandments which, on their surface, seem to limit freedom?
Exodus 13:17 - 17:16
Rabbi Adam Greenwald for myjewishlearning.com
Children of Nachshon
Liberation comes only to the courageous.
Every year we tell this story:
Our ancestors left Egypt a teeming multitude, a ragtag crowd of former slaves in a great hurry for a long-awaited deliverance. They made their way toward freedom, only to find a great sea blocking their path. And God said to Moses: “Lift up your hands and the sea will split.” And Moses held his arm out over the sea and God drove back the sea with a mighty wind all that night. The water split and the children of Israel walked —”B’toch ha-yam b’yabasha” — in the midst of the sea on dry ground, waters forming a translucent wall on either side.
Exodus 10:1 - 13:16
BY Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster for myjewishlearning.com
Return to the Homeland
In Parashat Bo, the Israelites are freed from Egypt.
One of my favorite U2 songs, “Walk On,” contains the lyrics: “You’re packing for a place none of us have been, a place that has to be believed to be seen.” The song describes the experience of abandoning all that one has known to embrace the promise of freedom and hope, much like the person who leaves exile after several generations to return to a homeland in which she has never lived.
The lyrics convey an understanding that sometimes home may not be the place where you live but where your roots are. Even after generations, the connection remains, growing more mythic the longer the return is awaited. And slowly, each generation confronts the question of what it might be like to actually return home.