Shabbat Vayera (Gen. 18:1 – 22:24)

The name of the portion this week is Vaera – “And God Saw”, but it seems (to me) to be all about blindness. At the beginning of the portion this week, Abraham is sitting, perhaps blinded by pain of his circumcision, at the entrance to his tent when he lifts his eyes to see 3 strangers approaching. He welcomes them, perhaps realizing they are really divine visitors, but also some Rabbis say he was blind to... read more

Shabbat Lech Lecha (Gen. 12:1-17:27)

This week we meet up with Abram and Sarai and read about their adventures traveling hither and yon – their departure from the big city, how they fooled a Pharaoh and came out with buckets of booty, and how they get a new name for their troubles (and Abraham learns the meaning of “a little off the top”). Interestingly enough, one thing we DON’T read about is Abram, his father, and young Abram’s fanciful... read more

Shabbat Noah (Gen. 6:9 – 11:32)

The tale of Noah, like all truly great stories, is simple and also deceptively complex. Along with the many layers of the story, there is – I discovered this year – actually TWO versions competing for your attention. In one version, the world had become corrupt, but Noah “seemed good in God’s eyes”. Noah takes seven pairs of animals onto a boat of undetermined size or dimension, and it rains for 40 days... read more

Shabbat Bereshit (Gen. 1:1-6:8)

Looking at it one way, Bereshit is a series of failures. After the high point of creation, it’s all downhill – from the fateful fruit of the tree to Cain’s aggression against Abel, humans really don’t have a particularly good time of it. Even the points in the narrative that aren’t downright bad, most have an element failure to them. making clothes from leaves? Not such a great plan. God asks where the... read more