The rabbis teach that there are 70 different faces to Torah, meaning any individual piece of Torah can be interpreted in many different ways. Over the last year, we have learned from so many different teachers in our (M)oral Torah series, each exposing a different “face” of how Torah demands that we create a more just world. In honor of Shavuot, we present a sampling of Moral Torah spanning from last Shavuot to today. Just as some Jews count every day for 7 weeks of the Omer from Pesach to Shavuot, each d’var Torah here represents one of each of those 7 weeks.
If you enjoy these divrei Torah, sign up to receive (M)oral Torah in your inbox each week.
Rabbi Michael Rothbaum reminds us that militarism will always lead to idolatry and that only by reworking and repurposing the violence in our tradition will we be lead to the land of bounty that the scouts described.
Rabbi Margo Hughes-Robinson teaches us that the Torah gives us a model for both holding accountable the parts of – and people in – our past that may have hurt or offended us, and also helps us to see the image of God in them nonetheless.
Rabbi Lydia Medwin explains how the initial reading of Isaac’s blessing to Esau can be read as a dangerous scarcity mindset, positioning one brother’s welfare at the expense of another, and reminds us that we need not, and should not, view the world or this blessing in these terms.
Rabbi Jonathan Roos thinks back to Inauguration Day 2021, comparing Rashi’s language around the Exodus to the pomp and circumstance of the giving of the Torah at Sinai. He parses out for us a reminder that we must continue to work every day for a more perfect union.
T’ruah Board Member Rachel Faulkner reminds us that, unless our sanctuaries are safe for all who come to worship, we have not created sanctuaries that live up to the standards God can dwell in.
Hazzan Jesse Holzer teaches us that, just as Esther and Vashti stand up and are counted when unjust laws are in play, so too there are dangerous edicts in ours (like anti-trans and racist bills passing in state legislatures all over the country) and we are obligated to stand against them.
Rabbi Melanie Aron teaches us how tzara’at, a biblical disease, can actually be understood as an important metaphor for the kinds of greed and callousness that are rife in our modern culture. Unless we are able to unlearn them, we will all find our own houses with tzara’at growing on them.