Parshat VaYera – Going Up and Coming Down

Parshat VaYera (Genesis 18:1 – 22:24) (פרשת וירא (יח:א – כב:כד
October 31, 2015 – 18 Heshvan 5776

By Rabbi Josh Weinberg

1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did prove Abraham, and said unto him: ‘Abraham’; and he said: ‘Here am I.’ 2 And He said: ‘Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.’
(Genesis 22:1-2)

Why does it matter where Avraham offers his son up as an offering? More so than the basic narrative of being tested through the sacrifice of one’s own son, the designated location in which this takes place proves to be a significant factor for the future development of our people.

El Eretz HaMoriah – to the Land of Moriah” seems inherently insignificant and more like an unknown land far away lacking any emotional connection.

The etymology of the Hebrew word: מוריה is also puzzling. Continue reading

Parshat Noah: With Nothing to Stand On

Parshat Noah – פרשת נח
Read on Shabbat Noah October 17, 2015 – 4 Heshvan 5776

By Rabbi Josh Weinberg

ח וַיְשַׁלַּח אֶת הַיּוֹנָה מֵאִתּוֹ לִרְאוֹת הֲקַלּוּ הַמַּיִם מֵעַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה
ט וְלֹא מָצְאָה הַיּוֹנָה מָנוֹחַ לְכַף רַגְלָהּ וַתָּשָׁב אֵלָיו אֶל הַתֵּבָה כִּי מַיִם עַל פְּנֵי כָל הָאָרֶץ וַיִּשְׁלַח יָדוֹ וַיִּקָּחֶהָ וַיָּבֵא אֹתָהּ אֵלָיו אֶל הַתֵּבָה

And he sent forth the dove from with him, to see whether the waters had abated from upon the surface of the earth.

But the dove found no resting place for the sole of its foot; so it returned to him to the ark because there was water upon the entire surface of the earth; so he stretched forth his hand and took it, and he brought it to him to the ark.

I’m not sure if Noah had an exit strategy when took his family and all the animals onto the ark, or if he had a vision in mind for what the world would look like on the other side. So on pure faith, he built the ark, filled it, sealed it, and set off for the great unknown. Continue reading

Torah MiTziyon – Breishit 5776


The book of Isaiah tells us that Torah will come forth from Zion and the word of God from Yerushalayim. This column is a weekly commentary on Parshat HaShavua as it relates to Israel, Zionism and Jewish peoplehood as seen from a Reform perspective.

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Parshat Breishit (1:1 – 6:8) (פרשת בראשית (א:א – ו:ח

Parshat Breishit is read on Shabbat Mevarchim

October 10, 2015 – 27 Tishrei 5776

Home and Exile

By Rabbi Josh Weinberg

(וַיִּטַּ֞ע יְהוָ֧ה אֱלֹהִ֛ים גַּן־בְעֵ֖דֶן מִקֶּ֑דֶם וַיָּ֣שֶׂם שָׁ֔ם אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר יָצָֽר׃ (בראשית ב:ח

“And God planted a Garden in Eden to the East and placed in it the human
that God created.”
(Genesis 2:8)

All that we knew of the earth until this point was that it was covered with vegetation, water, light and darkness; a full array of flora and fauna but void of form and design.

And then a Garden. A garden with magical powers where life was infinite and pure, and all basic needs were provided for. The Garden of Eden immediately became home to the first human beings, forming an unadulterated utopia providing for all necessities of life, immortality, and freedom from the desires and temptations and the gratifications and travails of good and evil. Continue reading