Rabbi Cohon’s Weekly Torah Talk on Mishpatim 5776

SAMUEL COHEN TALIT

Little Laws, Large Lessons

Posted on February 3, 2016

This week’s Torah portion of Mishpatim includes as many laws as any other part of the entire Torah.  After the last few weeks of spectacularly dramatic Torah portions featuring some of the highlights in the entirety of Jewish tradition—indeed, of all religious history—Mishpatim comes as a major let down. 

Last week, amid the smoke and thunder of Mt. Sinai, we received the Ten Commandments; the week before God parted the Sea for us and we miraculously crossed on dry land; and in the weeks before that 10 plagues struck the Egyptians, and Pharaoh and Moses had their duel of wills in the desert.

Read more: Rabbi Cohon’s Weekly Torah Talk on Mishpatim 5776

Rabbi Cohon’s Weekly Torah Talk on Yitro 5776

SAMUEL COHEN TALIT

Revelation?  Really?

Posted on January 27, 2016

This week we read the Torah portion of Yitro, the great moment of the revelation at Mt. Sinai, which includes the climactic events of the Ten Commandments and the theophany at Sinai, the most direct revelation of all.  It is a testament to brevity and concision, just a few paragraphs that form the core of Western ethical thought.   It is these few words that have become the essence of western religious experience ever since.  Important stuff.

Read more: Rabbi Cohon’s Weekly Torah Talk on Yitro 5776

Rabbi Cohon’s Weekly Torah Talk on Va'eira 5776

SAMUEL COHEN TALIT

Plagues and Justice

Posted on February 6, 2016

As this week’s portion of Va’era begins, the Israelites are in Egyptian slavery, and the mysterious figure of Moses has returned to try free them from bondage.  In Va’era, God brings about a series of plagues that traumatize the Egyptians, and bedevil the Pharaoh, king of Egypt: blood, frogs, lice, wild beasts, boils, and cattle disease serially afflict the land and its inhabitants, or at least the non-Israelite inhabitants.  In next week’s portion of Bo, three more plagues will come—hail, locusts, and darkness—all leading up to the final plague and the climactic death scene of the slaying of the first-born and the Exodus, the great moment in which our ancestors are freed from slavery.  It is the model for narratives of deliverance and emancipation ever after. 

Read more: Rabbi Cohon’s Weekly Torah Talk on Va'eira 5776