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Rabbi Anderson's Divrei Torah

07/02/2023 12:16:51 PM

Jul2

This blog holds Rabbi Anderson's Shabbat and (some) holiday divrei Torah and sermons, posted after their delivery. Please email her with any questions!

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Nitzavim-Vayeilech 5783

09/10/2023 10:46:24 PM

Sep10

Shabbat shalom! Today is not Shabbat Mevarchim Ha-Chodesh – you may have noticed that we didn’t bless the month of Tishrei before we put the Torah back just now.  And this is odd, given that a new month does in fact begin in the next week. Tishrei is the only month whose arrival we do not announce publicly during the Torah service, but there are many explanations for this custom.  The most practical...Read more...

Ki Tavo 5783

09/03/2023 07:40:35 PM

Sep3

Shabbat shalom! This week’s Torah portion includes a very odd public art project. Once the Israelites have crossed the Jordan, Moses instructs them to stand up large stones, coat the stones with plaster, and write on them kol divrei ha-Torah ha-zot, which our chumash translates as “all the words of this” capital-T “Teaching” (Deut. 27:3). The plaster-coated stones will ultimately be set up on Mount Eval,...Read more...

Ki Tetzei 5783

08/27/2023 10:40:31 PM

Aug27

Shabbat shalom! As I mentioned earlier, Ki Teitzei is kind of a potpourri parsha – lots of different mitzvot, some of which follow logically from others, and some of which really really don’t. In Chapter 23, there’s a whole section about people who “shall [not] be admitted to the congregation of the Lord,” lo yavo… bi-kahal Hashem. First there are men with damaged genitalia, then there are mamzerim, a...Read more...

Shoftim 5783

08/20/2023 08:01:33 PM

Aug20

Shabbat shalom! Like many Jews around the United States, I was shocked and horrified by the Squirrel Hill synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh in 2018, and I followed some of the news about the shooter’s long-delayed trial. Even if I hadn’t been interested, I couldn’t’ve missed the flurry of announcements a month ago, as the jurors – predictably – found Robert Bowers guilty, and then again two weeks ago,...Read more...

Re'eh 5783

08/13/2023 01:44:17 PM

Aug13

Shabbat shalom! My husband and I have an ongoing joke about the worst sermon topics for aufrufs – it started when a former rabbi of ours paired a joyous aufruf with a not-at-all-joyous sermon on human trafficking – and so with Daniel and Alissa’s aufruf happening today, I felt a certain obligation to come up with a cheerful sermon topic. Fortunately, our Torah portion offers many variations on the theme of...Read more...

Ekev 5783

08/06/2023 05:34:45 PM

Aug6

Shabbat shalom! Today I am in a very strange mental space. As most of you know, my father passed away earlier this week; his funeral will be in Baltimore tomorrow afternoon. That puts me in the state called aninut, or deep mourning. In Jewish tradition, the onen is exempt from – and in some cases even discouraged from performing – most positive mitzvot, including core prayers like the Shema and Amidah and core...Read more...

Va'etchanan 5783

07/30/2023 05:47:22 PM

Jul30

When I was ordained as a rabbi this past April, there were a lot of requirements. I don’t mean classes or comprehensive exams or a master’s thesis – I knew about all of those going in, and I had knocked them off one by one. No, instead I and my fellow ordinees contended with a series of polite emails from AJR administration asking for details: how did we want our names spelled and pronounced at the ordination...Read more...

Devarim 5783

07/23/2023 05:41:19 PM

Jul23

Shabbat shalom! Since last Shabbat, TI has hosted both a bris and a funeral – I love that it was in that order, and I love that in both cases there were large and loving multi-generational families coming together to support one another and to remember their shared pasts. I loved meeting some new people, discovering more about who’s related to whom, and listening to amazing stories about the grandparents and...Read more...

Mattot-Masei 5783

07/16/2023 01:20:17 PM

Jul16

Shabbat shalom! This morning’s Torah reading included a detailed account of war with Midian followed by a sudden new halakhah about what to do with the dishes. It seems that the Israelites’ war spoils included metal vessels, ranging from gold to lead, and midway through Numbers 31 it is Aaron’s son Elazar – this is actually his only solo law in the Torah – Elazar who tells the returning soldiers that anything they bring home which...Read more...

Pinchas 5783

07/09/2023 04:04:36 PM

Jul9

Shabbat shalom! This week the most, uh, striking figure in our Torah portion is its namesake Pinchas. At the very end of last week’s parsha, Pinchas stops a plague of God’s wrath against the Israelites by impaling the Israelite leader Zimri ben Salu together with his Midianite girlfriend. In this week’s parsha, we are reminded that Pinchas is Aaron’s grandson and Eleazar’s son, and that he is rewarded for his actions with perpetual...Read more...

Chukat-Balak 5783

07/02/2023 04:14:13 PM

Jul2

Shabbat shalom! This week’s Torah portion is Chukat-Balak, a double-header that is only ever read in the Diaspora, when the second day of Shavuot puts us one parsha behind Israel, and this is how we catch up. Although it starts out a bit slow, with the laws of the red heifer whose ashes purify individual Israelites from corpse-contamination, the rest of the parshah is a wild, action-packed ride. Aaron and Miriam...Read more...

Sat, March 2 2024 22 Adar I 5784