Adina Roth

Adina Roth

Adina Roth, a native of Johannesburg, South Africa, is a clinical psychologist who holds dual master’s degrees in literature. A co-founder of the Johannesburg Egalitarian Chavurah, Adina runs B’tocham Education—a bar and bat mitzvah program that prepares pre-teens for their rites of passage, and organizes Women’s Torah and Megillah readings. She has co-chaired Limmud Johannesburg for three years and has studied Bible and Talmud at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, in Jerusalem, and Drisha Institute for Jewish Education, in New York City. Adina lives in Johannesburg with her husband, daughter and son, and is interested in creating creative and diverse community spaces within the Jewish community and beyond. Adina can be reached at adinzi@mweb.co.za.

Naso

Torah—with its rich narratives and poetry, glimpses of the Divine and profound wisdom—is a text we turn to for inspiration, intellectual stimulation and meaning. Yet there are moments in the Bible when culturally located prejudices come to the fore and the reader is left struggling with the tension between timeless writing and context-bound oppression. One such moment is the law of the sotah—or wayward woman—found in Parashat Naso.

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Lech Lecha

In her Dvar Tzedek below, from October of 2011, author Adina Roth outlines two different models of tikkun olam (repairing the world) demonstrated by players in this week’s parasha. The first model, “lech” (to depart), urges us to leave behind “all unjust systems in order to create a better world.” The second model, “shuvi” (to return), prescribes “seeking change within the system, in a space fraught with difficulties and wounded human relationships.” Roth’s duality shows us that some injustices must be rejected and left behind, while others must be confronted head on.

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Vayelech

Last year, as part of an alternative Rosh Hashanah service I attended, we discussed one of the central themes of the holiday—kingship. It was interesting to note how many of us ‘moderns’ struggle with the concept of an external authority who is judging us and then determining our destiny. Many of the participants spoke about the contradiction between the Jewish liturgy, which depicts an external God as the source of authority, and the more contemporary idea that our internal conscience should guide our actions. I, too, shared this discomfort, so I found it interesting that Parashat Vayelech, read between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, offers a more balanced perspective on the various loci of power in the Torah.

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Re’eh

South Africa has one of the largest gaps between the “haves” and the “have-nots” in the world. When l leave my apartment each morning, I find homeless people begging at every traffic light. Sometimes I hand out food and coins in an attempt to help those in my vicinity, but the problem is so vast that these acts don’t even dent the surface. I am left wondering how we could ever hope to solve it.

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Vayetze

In the daily Amidah prayer we address God as Elohei Avraham, Elohei Yitzchak vE’lohei Ya’akov. Many have suggested that the repetition of the word Elohim in relation to each patriarch indicates that each one had a unique understanding of and relationship to God. Today too, our individual and collective conceptions of God are vital and determining. Our ideas about God influence our relationships with self and other, male and female, heaven and earth—and can have a direct impact on our activism.

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Naso

Torah—with its rich narratives and poetry, glimpses of the Divine and profound wisdom—is a text we turn to for inspiration, intellectual stimulation and meaning. Yet there are moments in the Bible when culturally located prejudices come to the fore and the reader is left struggling with the tension between timeless writing and context-bound oppression. One such moment is the law of the sotah—or wayward woman—found in Parashat Naso.

Read More

Vayelech

Last year, as part of an alternative Rosh Hashanah service I attended, we discussed one of the central themes of the holiday—kingship. It was interesting to note how many of us ‘moderns’ struggle with the concept of an external authority who is judging us and then determining our destiny. Many of the participants spoke about …Read More

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Re’eh

South Africa has one of the largest gaps between the “haves” and the “have-nots” in the world.[1] When l leave my apartment each morning, I find homeless people begging at every traffic light. Sometimes I hand out food and coins in an attempt to help those in my vicinity, but the problem is so vast …Read More

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Pinchas

In Jewish mystical thought, there are said to be two polar expressions of God’s relationship to the world: chessed—loving-kindness, and gevurah—strength and boundaries.[1] When we emulate God’s quality of chessed, we forge open relationships and give of ourselves. In contrast, when we emulate gevurah, we set boundaries, turn away from the influence of others and …Read More

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Naso

The Law and Lore of the Wayward Woman Torah—with its rich narratives and poetry, glimpses of the Divine and profound wisdom—is a text we turn to for inspiration, intellectual stimulation and meaning. Yet there are moments in the Bible when culturally located prejudices come to the fore and the reader is left struggling with the …Read More

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