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Tag Archives | moses

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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 […]

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Parashat Ki Tisa – The Mitzvah of Tzedaka | D’varim Ha’Makom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Nicole Cruz; Peninsula JCC – San Francisco, CA This week’s Torah portion, Ki Tisa, tells the story of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments from G-d (not once but twice) at Mount Sinai. The first set of Ten Commandments is broken when Moses destroys them in frustration when he witnesses the Egyptians worshiping a god they created because they were impatient waiting for his return from Mount Sinai. Eventually, Moses returns to Mount Sinai and G-d scribes the same words on a new set of stones. After speaking with G-d, when Moses descends Mount Sinai the second time his face is radiating. While this Torah portion contains many significant moments, the part that most resonated with me wast he conversation between G-d and Moses before he leaves Mount Sinai the first time: “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. This shall be a perpetual covenant, a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever…” In this well-known quote, we come to understand that we rest on Shabbat because G-d commands it. Reading this Torah portion reminded me of the other Mitzvot that we adhere to. While […]

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Danielle Smith with child at Eden Village

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

by Danielle Smith, Eden Village Camp – Putnam Valley NY In last week’s parsha, we received the ten commandments. Before we receive the golden calf, we have nearly a whole parsha of laws showing us how to apply the commandments in our daily lives. This week we receive 53 laws that talk about gender, social justice, courts, serving G-d, criminal law, ethics, and more. After Moses tells the Israelites all of these laws, they respond by saying, “we will do and listen.” These laws acknowledge the values that the ten commandments address and they give us action items for how to apply the principles of the commandments. I hope that we do not blindly follow laws just because they are written, but that we follow laws that are morally right and align with the mission of our collective society. I want to focus on two values in particular that are addressed through the laws in Mishpatim- income inequality and acts of kindness. Mishpatim talks about female servitude and the laws around a poor father selling his daughter to a wealthier family for service and then for marriage. This portion discusses themes of Shmita, saying that after six years, a slave […]

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

by Tzachi Flat, Oshman Family JCC – Palo Alto, CA In This week’s Torah portion, Yitro, Moses tells his stepfather Jethro the story of the Israelites escape from Egypt. Jethro is very pleased with the story and recites a prayer of gratitude, even though he was not with them in Egypt. Jethro notices Moses dealing with a great deal of the challenges in the group, and advises him to create a council that will help balance the work between the community. After the council is in place and the society is self-governing, Moses is able to go off to his own land. As a JOFEE fellow I can relate to this Torah portion as there are a great many challenges and roadblocks on the path to humans maintaining a healthier, more sustainable planet. Taking on a task of this proportion would be extremely challenging for one person, or even a small group of people to tackle on their own. It is as if we as JOFEE fellows are the council, and our task is to create positive change while educating the community and inspiring them to take similar steps. I am reminded of the Pirkei Avot quote “Do not separate […]

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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 […]

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