rabbikahntroster

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster


Chukkat

As the Israelites wind down their adventures in the desert and prepare to enter the Promised Land as a free generation, they must again confront their faith in God’s ability to protect and provide for them. At the heart of Parashat Chukkat is the puzzling episode of Moses and the rock that yields water. Through Moses and the costly mistake that he makes, this parashah teaches us the proper way to express trust in God. The challenges that Moses and the Israelites face in finding the right way to engage in and express their belief in God challenge us to think about the ways we demonstrate commitment to our values in the public sphere.

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Toldot

As an activist, learning about the work of previous generations can be inspiring—and terrifying. I begin to wonder if I will ever be able to accomplish what the leaders of eras past did, or be willing to take the same risks. For example, when I was in elementary and middle school, the fight to end South African apartheid was often in the news and many of the young activists were not much older than I was. I remember thinking: “What would I be able to do to show such strong moral leadership and live up to their example?”

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Ki Tavo

Taking time to celebrate our accomplishments allows us to see how far we have come and to plan with enthusiasm for the future. Parshat Ki Tavo envisions a time when the Israelites are living in the Promised Land and are experiencing the blessings of prosperity that they could only dream of during 40 years of …Read More

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Va’etchanan

What can our love of God teach us about our relationships with other people? Parshat Va’etchanan recalls the details of the covenant between God and Israel at Sinai, a model for the deep, committed relationship that is ideal for connecting to our fellow human beings. This model is especially critical when thinking about finding common …Read More

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Chukat

As the Israelites wind down their adventures in the desert and prepare to enter the Promised Land as a free generation, they must again confront their faith in God’s ability to protect and provide for them. At the heart of Parshat Chukat is the puzzling episode of Moses and the rock that yields water.[1] Through …Read More

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Bamidbar

At the beginning of Parshat Bamidbar, God asks Moses to “take a census of the whole Israelite community”[1] in the desert as a prelude to the people’s eventual entry into the Land of Israel. The Hebrew word for community, edah, is most often used to mean the entire nation;[2] but here, rather than serving as …Read More

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Shmini

In a world of endless choice, why should we place limits on what we can have? One Jewish response is found in Parshat Shmini, which contains the core of Jewish limits on food consumption with a series of laws concerning permitted and prohibited creatures.[1] It is from these laws that Jews have come to exclude …Read More

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Bo

One of my favorite U2 songs, “Walk On,” contains the lyrics: “You’re packing for a place none of us have been, a place that has to be believed to be seen.” The song describes the experience of abandoning all that one has known to embrace the promise of freedom and hope, much like the person …Read More

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Vayigash

Sometimes the best of intentions can lead to tragic outcomes. In Parshat Vayigash, Joseph has his hands full managing the seven years of catastrophic famine that have followed seven years of prosperity.[1] The Egyptian people are starving while Pharaoh has food, having stored much of the harvest during years of plenty. But the people’s ability …Read More

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Toldot

As an activist, learning about the work of previous generations can be inspiring—and terrifying. I begin to wonder if I will ever be able to accomplish what the leaders of eras past did, or be willing to take the same risks. For example, when I was in elementary and middle school, the fight to end …Read More

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