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Teachings

Thoughts For Yom Kippur 5782

Yom Kippur is often translated into English as the Jewish day of atonement, though I feel that this is a mistranslation. Yom Kippur's awesomeness, in the literal sense of the word, is that the Jewish tradition provides us with a 25-hour period, Shabbat Shabbaton (the sabbath of sabbaths) to focus wholly on realigning with who we want to be in...[ read more ]

The Heart Knows the Bitterness Of Its Soul: Experience As An Integral Expression of Holiness

With the marking of Rosh Chodesh Elul this week, the Jewish tradition invites us into the holiest months of the year. It’s a time for personal introspection and stock-taking, a time to ask ourselves about the people we want to be in the new year. This Elul is particularly significant as with Rosh Hashanah, we usher in the Shmita or...[ read more ]

Bamidbar 5781

This week, we begin the fourth book of the Torah, Sefer Bamidbar. In Hebrew, bamidbar means wilderness or desert. In English, the title Numbers derives from the multiple censuses taken throughout the book. Bamidbar is a much more apt title for the journey that we will be taking these next many weeks, as we enter the liminal space and state...[ read more ]

Kedoshim 5781

Our double parsha this week, Acharei Mot-Kedoshim, as with so much of Torah, covers a lot of ground and is multi-faceted and multi-layered. These parshiyot contain verses that have provided considerable strength and inspiration to us throughout the centuries, as well as verses that have caused tremendous pain. I am going to be focusing in this dvar Torah on a...[ read more ]

Tazria Metsora 5781

Tazria-Metsora 5781 Lauren Tuchman   This week’s parsha, Tazria-Metsora is both incredibly timely and deeply complex. Now that the Kohenim have been ordained, their functions are beginning to be outlined. The Book of Leviticus is arguably the Torah’s most complex and least understood book, given that it is largely concerned with ritual actions and the functions of the priests.  ...[ read more ]

Changing Ourselves To Change The World

This essay first appeared in Chaver Up! 49 Rabbis Explore What It Means To Be an Ally Through a Modern Jewish Lens, edited by Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum and Rabbi Mike Moskowitz.   One of the central motifs in the Pesach seder is our journey from degradation to praise, from narrowness to expansiveness, from slavery to freedom. We are now b’midbar,...[ read more ]

Coming Close To God: A Reflection on Pesachim 98

A version of this piece was originally published as part of My Jewish Learning's daf yomi page of the day Talmud project.   On today’s daf, the Talmud is deep in the weeds of a continuing discussion about when, how and by whom the Passover sacrifice must be brought. What happens if a person purchases a variety of animals designated...[ read more ]

Memory and Moving Forward: A Reflection on Purim 5781

A version of this piece was originally published by SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva.   Today, I remember. I remember vividly the all-consuming sadness I felt last Purim, as the sun was setting and my celebratory seudah was ending, the last event I attended with a large Jewish community. I remember feeling overcome with the intuitive sense that it would...[ read more ]

The Importance of Hallel on Passover A Reflection on Pesachim 95

This piece was originally published as part of My Jewish Learning's Daf Yomi page of the day Talmud project.   Today’s daf opens with a Mishnah. “MISHNA: What is the difference between the Paschal lamb offered on the first Pesaḥ and the Paschal lamb offered on the second Pesaḥ? On the first Pesaḥ, at the time of slaughtering the Paschal...[ read more ]

Torah From A Mussar Perspective Mishpatim 5781

During this pandemic time, I have found myself frequently moving between periods of normal energy and periods of considerable fatigue. I note that the latter is not unexpected, given all that has occurred in our world and in my own life this past year. Yet, I yearn to emerge from this tiredness back to how I was pre-pandemic, knowing, ultimately...[ read more ]




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