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D’var Torah

May 21, 2009

We have this really cool idea in Judaism, that anyone can and should interpret the Torah. In our world it is not just the Rabbis that have the power, intellect, right, whatever to interpret scripture. In our world scripture is personal, to be understood and explicated by each of us. I love doing this. I particularly love writing the D’var Torah for a shabbat service (this is equivalent to the sermon, its a commentary). Finding a theme, particularly one that resonates in the modern world, is not always easy. Some Torah portions are filled with terrible things. This week was all about the punishing God, the torments to be inflicted if we don’t observe all the rules. Its a difficult portion unless but the good news is that God loves us nevertheless. The last one I wrote on was all about skin sores (often interpreted as leprosy) and things unclean. I have been asked to write about this particular portion several times; not easy or attractive (its just a matter of dates). Each time the Rabbi says the teachers at the seminary say only the best get to write this portion because it is so difficult. I think he is just glad I did it, rather than leaving it to him! Nevertheless, it is interesting to do. It stretches my mind. And it makes me glad to be a Jew, because everyone’s Midrash (commentary) is welcome and encouraged. I love that egalitarian approach to the bible, to religion. And while I know that in the more orthodox corners of our religion women’s commentaries are not always welcome, I sit in a corner where my view is solicited, welcomed and praised. How cool is that?


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  1. Thanks, Gaylord — I am interested in learning more. The concept of an egalitarian religion fits my sense of spirituality and piques my curiosity!As far as the ‘punishing God’ thing goes…. I think that some of the things that we do to OURSELVES (excessive guilt and worry for example) could be substituted for that image. Somehow that works for me.I also think that it is an incredible gift to have your POV “solicited, welcomed and praised”!

  2. Thanks. I hope a whole community of us will learn together!

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