fbpx

Tag Archives | d’varim hamakom

rabbi retreat thumbnail sun in bush

Parashat Vayeira | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Brittany Feldman – Hazon – Detroit, Michigan This week’s Torah Portion, Vayeira, discusses circumcision, birth, destruction, disobedience, and devotion. With so many themes in one portion, I’m choosing to focus on one that stood out to me the most, disobedience. In this particular text, “Abraham pleads with G‑d to spare the wicked city of Sodom. Two of the three disguised angels arrive in the doomed city, where Abraham’s nephew Lot extends his hospitality to them and protects them from the evil intentions of a Sodomite mob. The two guests reveal that they have come to overturn the place, and to save Lot and his family. Lot’s wife turns into a pillar of salt when she disobeys the command not to look back at the burning city as they flee.” I found the last line of this text to be extremely powerful in many ways. For me, it brought up thoughts about destruction and violence- if something bad happens should we choose to just move on with our lives without looking back? Although Lot’s wife disobeyed G-d’s command can her decision be justified? I started thinking about why she would choose to disobey this command. Was it just out of […]

Continue Reading
fire lagbomer_square

Parashat Ha’Azinu | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Amanda Gluckich – Milk and Honey Farm – Boulder, CO In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Ha’Azinu, we learn that the people of Israel, who have been wandering the desert for forty years after leaving Egypt, are about to enter the Holy Land that has been promised to them by God. Moses, who is not allowed to continue into the Holy Land due to previous transgressions, is preparing to sing a song to the people of Israel. The Torah portion, or parsha, is virtually entirely made up of song verses. Moses’s song speaks of the intergenerational tragedies and triumphs of the people of Israel, and even articulates the future to some degree. Moses sings of the people of Israel’s many struggles to accept one God, and of all of the things that God has done for them throughout the generations. Moses’s song brings everyone together and up to speed to explain why they are currently in the place they are in: about to be metaphorically born into the Land of Israel, promised to them by God. Moses begins: “Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! And let the earth hear the words of my mouth!” (Deut. 32:1). When reading […]

Continue Reading

Parashat Netzavim | D’varim HaMakom: Choosing to Dig In

by Margot Sands – Ekar Farm – Boulder, Co Parasha Netzavim This week’s Torah portion, Netzavim, offers us the warning of risks and rewards that could result from engaging in Judaism. See for yourself in a snapshot of this week’s Torah portion: Moses delivers a message from G-d about the consequences that may be endured as a result of committing to the Jewish faith. What will happen if we do all that has been commanded of us as Jews? We are given the world. Protection. A full, happy life. Fruits of the earth, of the trees, of the next generation. G-d even offers to plot revenge against our enemies. However, the dark consequence bestowed upon us comes from an angry, spiteful G-d. If we don’t choose the faithful life, then we are choosing death and will perish by the wrath of G-d. As I read this Torah portion’s translation, I was stunned by the dichotomy of choices. We can choose the path of a devout Jew, or we can choose to suffer dire consequences. The reward: a gloriously full life following the word of G-d; The risk: taking a misstep in devotion and enduring G-d’s wrath. This contrast of choices […]

Continue Reading

Shabbat at Burning Man

by Leora “Leo” Cockrell – Camp Tawonga – San Francisco, CA I arrived on playa for my first Burning Man at midnight on Sunday after eight hours of driving. I got out of my car and I was immediately aware that I had absolutely no bearings. Nothing about this landscape, these people, these structures, or flashing LED lights was familiar, and in a sense, I was no longer familiar to myself. After calibrating my body to the harsh environment and exploring for a few days, I decided to check out the Jewish Theme camp – Milk and Honey. On Thursday morning, Milk and Honey held Torah study and we explored the feelings of unfamiliarity in this particular landscape. We discussed how in Hebrew the word for “Desert” and “Wilderness” is synonymous and wondered if this was because the desert was the only wilderness known at the time of writing the Torah, or if the Desert holds a wildness unique unto itself. We discussed the story of Moses and his discovery of the burning bush in the desert – both how it took his initiation of awareness and curiosity in the bush for G-d to then reach out to him, and […]

Continue Reading

Parashat Pinchas | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Jaclyn Kellner – Coastal Roots Farm – Encinitas, CA Parashat Pinchas “Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel from twenty years old and upwards, following their fathers’ houses…” From here, this week’s parsha, Parshat Pinchas, continues to list out the data from this census for the next 46 verses. There is a concept in Torah study that there is not a single superfluous word. This is also far from the only census recounted in full in the Torah. I am sure I’m not alone when I say that I often skim over this sort of census data, eager to get to a story, a list of laws, or a description of what life was like in biblical times. Data collection and analysis is probably among the least sexy work that nonprofits do. So much time and care is put into designing surveys that many folks then don’t fill out, countless hours are spent entering data from sign in and waiver forms. I often stop during a farm-to-fork type trip to weigh and track the produce before we prepare a tasty snack. After all of this work, it’s the information from those one-sentence testimonies, the […]

Continue Reading

Parashat Tzav | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Rose Chernoff, Abundance Farm – Northampton, MA In this week’s parsha, Tzav, we learn about the rules for how a priest/priestess is to keep the sacrificial fire burning. The instructions are to keep the fire burning all day and all night, and to remove all of the ash in the morning. The fire is to be used for offerings- meat and meal- that is cooked in specific ways…. Sounds old school, I know. ….Enter JOFEE!!!! One of the opportunities that arises on a Jewish Farm is the opportunity to make the words of the torah come to life, or at least seem somewhat more relatable. We can read about fire, and we can also build a fire! We can experience what a fire looks like and feels like, how to start it and tend it and remove the ashes. We can cook with a fire and give gratitude. Experiential lessons give images to the text, and invite participants to enter into a new relationship with this ancient story. In this vein, we at Abundance Farm crafted a “Make Your Own Matzah” and “Grow Your Own Maror” event last weekend. We created two activities (a Matzah station that I will […]

Continue Reading

Parashat Pikudei | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Tzachi Flatt, Oshman JCC, Palo Alto, CA Parashat Pikudei tells the story of the construction of the Mishkan, built by the Israelite community under supervision of the Levites. While wandering in the desert, it became a source of comfort and communication for the people of Israel to create a central meeting place where they could connect to G-d. This was constructed to be their divine headquarters. Externally, they were surrounded by the wide expanse of the desert. Internally, they did not know where they were going. G-d saw them in this state, and commanded them to create this space for their own well-being. Parashat Pikudei goes into exhaustive detail about all the pieces of the Mishkan, such a significant undertaking can only be accomplished with the entire community working together cohesively. In thinking about the underlying message of this parasha, at least two key points rose to the surface. Everyone’s contribution to the common goal is not only expected, but is essential to its success. “Do not separate yourself from the community” – Pirkei Avot. We each carry a unique skill set that adds its own value and meaning to the greater good. When we work together towards a […]

Continue Reading

Parsahat Beshalach | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Shani Mink, Pearlstone Center – Reisterstown, MD Blessings, on Blessings, on Blessings: Faith and Wonderment in Beshalach and Tu B’shvat In the parsha of Beshalach we have finally emerged from the darkness of egypt and we are now headed into a different sort of darkness, the darkness of the unknown.  Trapped between Pharoah’s army and the Red Sea, the Nation of Israel turns to their leader Moshe and say “Why did you take us out here to die? It would be better to serve the Egyptians than to die out here in the wilderness.”  After generations, our ancestors had grown too comfortable with the abuse and degradation of slavery and from this comfort emerged a paralyzing and complacent stagnation.  Though their lives in Egypt were dark and full of terrors, it was a familiar plight, a plight in which they knew what to expect.  The injustices that pepper our society are just as familiar and the darkness of the unknown just as terrifying.  In light of recent political transitions, the plight of dis-empowered groups previously suffering in silence have been brought to the fore.  Caught between Pharoah’s army and the Red Sea, we must chose to move forward; it’s now […]

Continue Reading