Torah Study

sefer torahWeekly Torah Study is Saturday morning at 9. We meet in the Room 202 of Temple Brith Kodesh (enter by Door A).  We decide year by year how we’ll approach the weekly portion.  Last year we used the weekly d’var Torah from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks as a jumping off point.  This year, we’re going to consider each parsha from a Mussar perspective.  Each week an email is sent out (usually on Thursday) to anyone who may be interested.  You’re welcome on Saturday, whether or not you got the email or had time to read it.  Discussions are generally lively.

Parshat Bo

Slaves building pyramids

A Darkness One Can Feel
In the interpretative path we are taking, the Pharaoh is not a historical figure but represents a way in which we resist change and growth. We can be tyrants, constricting who we are and who we can be, as our souls struggle for freedom. We harden our hearts, we refuse to hear the truth or lighten our fixed thoughts or allow ourselves to feel.

Shemot (10: 21-22) (Robert Alter, trans.)
And the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the heavens, that there be darkness upon the land of Egypt, a darkness one can feel.”

Shemot Rabbah (14: 3) as cited by Rabbi Dessler
Where did the darkness come from? On this, there is a dispute between Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Nehemia. Rabbi Yehuda says it came from the darkness above–the darkness with which God shrouds His glory, as the verse says, “He makes darkness His secret place…” Rabbi Nehemia says it came from darkness below–the darkness of Gehinnom, as the verse says: “A land covered with darkness, the shadow of death, and disorder.”

Rabbi Dessler explains that there are two ways of understanding darkness as a metaphor. Darkness from above is deeply philosophical or mystical. It is the realization that we come from nothingness and the visible world is an illusion. Darkness from below is sin that darkens the potential of being alive. Which perspective will be most valuable for growth? Mussar teachers insist we will learn better from concretely recognizing how we are limiting ourselves rather than contemplating a philosophical abstraction. There are religious practices, both inside and outside of Judaism that involve contemplating or meditating on nothingness. At a deep level both kinds of darkness are connected. But for most people, in our day-to-day lives, we grow when see have we’ve come short of our potential.

Thinking about a trait like humility — how might you work on it from these two different perspectives?

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Torah Study Archive

Thumb Title
Slaves building pyramids
January 19, 2018 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Darkness fell on Egypt
January 11, 2018 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Moses at the burning bush
January 5, 2018 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Jacob giving his blessing to his descendants
December 28, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Latest News, Torah Study
Joseph reconciles with his brothers
December 22, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Joseph interprets Pharoh's dream
December 14, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Joseph dreams of wheat
December 8, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Jacob wrestles with the angel
November 29, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Jacob and his sheep
November 24, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Isaac feeling the hands of Jacob on his deathbed.
November 16, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Sarah and Eliezer at the well
November 9, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Welcome mat
November 2, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Lech Lecha
October 26, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Beatuiful sukkah
October 5, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Mother donkey and foal
August 31, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Judge Judy receiving a file from her bailiff
August 24, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Family harvesting fruit
August 17, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and walk humbly with your God? Micha 6:8
August 10, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
The Golden Calf
August 3, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
The fall of the second temple
July 27, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
The Israelites Encamped at Mt. Sinai
July 20, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Daughters of Zelophead
July 13, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Man riding a donkey toward some mountains
July 7, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Moses striking the rock
June 29, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
desert
June 23, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
grasshopper
June 15, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
gossip
June 9, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Samson slayed 1000 men
June 1, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
woman begging
May 18, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Leaving the corners of the field
May 11, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
You should be holy, for I, the Lord Your God, am holy. Leviticus 19: 2
May 4, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
isolated figure
April 28, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Egg packaging with kosher label
April 21, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Priest at the altar
April 13, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Custom made jacket marked with tailor's chalk and basting
April 6, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Calm path with side-lighting
March 31, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
The Mishkan
March 26, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
The High Priest
March 10, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Crossing the Reed Sea
February 9, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
The second plague of Egypt
February 2, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Parshat vaera
January 26, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Moses and the daughters of Midian
January 20, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Jacob blessing Joseph's sons
January 12, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Joseph reveals himself to his brothers
January 5, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Joseph interprets Pharoh's dream
December 29, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Joseph's coat being shown to Jacob
December 22, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Jacob meets Esau
December 15, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Jacob deceives Isaac
December 8, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Burial of Sarah
November 25, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Abraham's tent
November 18, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Lech Lecha--Going out
November 16, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
The drunkenness of Noah
November 3, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Jealousy, by Edvard Munch
October 27, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Guitar at sunrise
October 13, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
The Israelites ready to cross into the promised land
October 5, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Sunset over a valley with a meandering river
September 29, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
birch bark showing the shape of a heart
September 14, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Your word is hour bond, so take them seriously
August 17, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
elderly man on a scooter
August 17, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
flamingo amongst swans
July 7, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Scary giant
June 30, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
sparrow pelted by snow
June 30, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study