Seven Minute Torah
P’kudei: Let Each Gem Shine (A Conversation with Rabbi Barry Block)

P’kudei: Let Each Gem Shine (A Conversation with Rabbi Barry Block)

March 1, 2022

In this conversation with Rabbi Barry Block, we talk about the precious gems in the High Priest's breastplate, as a metaphor for the imperative to create equity by considering the individual needs of students/communities in education. Plus, in the bonus interview, we talk about the Jewish context around social and racial justice in the American south.

  • Rabbi Block's book: The The Social Justice Torah Commentary, published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
  • Rabbi Block's book recommendation: Caste by Isabel Wilkerson.
Vayahkel: More Like Zusya

Vayahkel: More Like Zusya

February 22, 2022

In yet another portion about the building of the Tabernacle, the Torah discusses the unexpected skills and talents that the Israelites discovered in the wilderness. What does this have to do with our own skills and talents, and with the journey to being your best self?

Ki Tisa: Judaism is Not (Just) For Kids

Ki Tisa: Judaism is Not (Just) For Kids

February 15, 2022

This week's Torah portion speaks about a census in the wilderness. We'll explore why they only counted the Israelites from age 20 and up, and what it has to do with our own Judaism.

Tetzaveh: Where is Moses?

Tetzaveh: Where is Moses?

February 8, 2022

In this parashah about priestly clothing and institutions, Moses is conspicuously missing. What's the lesson in his absence? I consult the commentary of the great Israeli educator Nehama Leibowitz and look for meaning for today's world in an ancient text.

Terumah: I, Thou, and God

Terumah: I, Thou, and God

February 1, 2022

This week's Torah portion is about the construction of the Tabernacle (the portable sanctuary in the desert). What does that have to do with relationships and with finding God in each other? Listen in for Rabbi Streiffer's take on the parashah.

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Mishpatim: The Widow, the Orphan, and the Stranger  (A conversation with Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz)

Mishpatim: The Widow, the Orphan, and the Stranger (A conversation with Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz)

January 25, 2022

The Torah's command to care for the widow, orphan, and stranger sits at the base of a rich Jewish theology of compassion, kindness, and social justice. I am joined by Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, author and activist, to talk about why the ethical and the ritual can't be teased apart, and how the world benefits from a Jewish approach to social justice.

R' Shmuly's Social Justice Commentaries can be found here and here.

Yitro: Encounters with God (A Conversation with Rabbi Oren Hayon)

Yitro: Encounters with God (A Conversation with Rabbi Oren Hayon)

January 18, 2022

Yitro is about the Torah portion about Mount Sinai. I am joined by Rabbi Oren Hayon to discuss the Ten Commandments, and why they represent a unique, dialogue-based framework for encountering God and encountering fellow human beings. We also reflect on the events in Colleyville, Texas, and the heroic acts of Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker.

B’Shallach: Making a Miracle, Doing God’s Work

B’Shallach: Making a Miracle, Doing God’s Work

January 11, 2022

In this parashah, the Torah tells the story of the parting of the Red Sea. And the Rabbis tell the story of the brave person who made that miracle possible.

Bo: The Importance of Questions & Curiosity

Bo: The Importance of Questions & Curiosity

January 4, 2022

This week's portion tells the story of the Exodus. It also tells about the importance of telling the story, and of asking questions as a mode of learning. Let's talk about why Judaism has placed questioning & curiosity at the centre of ritual and memory.

Va’era: Shortness of Spirit

Va’era: Shortness of Spirit

December 28, 2021

Why could Moses see the possibility of freedom when none of the other Israelite slaves could? How do you find hope, and a wider perspective, in the midst of the narrow places.

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