Home / The Latest / Tags

Tag: Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar

Aug 7, 2020

Man Does Not Live on Bread Alone

Yup, you read it correctly—I used the term “man.” It’s the way the JPS Tanakh (Bible) translates Deuteronomy 8:3 from this week’s Parashat Eikev, and it is of course the way we all know the phrase from the King James Bible translation. Why? I don’t touch iconic—especially if I want to get your attention!

Jul 31, 2020

One Soul, Many Hearts

One of the challenges translators of Scripture must deal with are subtle grammatical shifts and oddities within the Hebrew text of the Pentateuch. These subtleties challenge prevailing conceptions and conventions in other languages, and within the Hebrew language itself. They complicate the translator’s mandate to simplify and clarify, while remaining faithful to the text.

Jul 24, 2020

Torah is the Foundation We Stand Upon

This Shabbat we begin the last of the Five Books, the Book of Deuteronomy or Devarim ("words" in Hebrew). The Book is primarily a review ( Deuter – Greek for “repetition”) of the previous 4 books, with Moses exhorting the Israelites to remember what was set down over the previous 40 years.

Jul 17, 2020

Life is a Sacred Journey

This Shabbat we finish the reading of the fourth book of the Torah, Numbers/ Sefer Bemidbar , and with the end of the book, ends the story of the Exodus, the travelling through the wilderness, and the complaints of the Israelites (though, in fact those never quite end).

Jul 10, 2020

Change Is Always Possible

There is one verse in this week’s Torah portion that is profound in meaning and it has only four words . In fact, it is so short that many readers or listeners just miss it. It’s one of those verses that a few minutes or hours later you suddenly say – “What did the Torah say there?"

Jul 3, 2020

Lessons from the Unexpected

This week’s combined Torah portion, Chukat-Balak , includes the story of the non-Jewish prophet Balaam (called Bilam in Hebrew) and his talking donkey . The portion of Balak opens with the king of Moav, (Balak), having heard what happened with the nations who fought against Israel.

Jun 26, 2020

Korach Still Lives On!

Rabbis, including this rabbi, welcome the opportunity to write a Dvar Torah in which one of the most “beloved” of Biblical villains appears in his own eponymous Torah portion-- Korach. Born a Levite with great yichus (his great-grandfather was Levi, founder of the Tribe of Levi), along with wealth, intellect, ability and skill, Korach was greatly admired and looked up to by many Israelites.

Jun 19, 2020

Are You Transmitting Fear or Courage?

As Jewish parents, grandparents, and teachers, we need to find ways to transmit the values of the Jewish tradition to each generation. In Parashat Shelach, Moses sends leaders to scout the land of Canaan in order to find a way to enter it and leave the desert behind them. These leaders return and tell Moses that while the land is flowing with milk and honey, it is inhabited by giants. Their fears overcame their better judgment and they exaggerated what they saw in order to instill fear in others.

Jun 11, 2020

Paradise Lost: Reflections on BeMidbar/The Book of Numbers and America circa 2020

Recent events have unleashed sad, self-evident and undeniable truths; far from “one union under God”, we act more like a loosely stitched patchwork of power structures and competing interest. Fear of the other and racial hatred, the unequal distribution of justice, and rampant violence have planted deep seeds of mistrust.

Jun 5, 2020

Expressive Hands: The Blessing of the Cohen

One of the most exciting parts of Parashat Naso, this week’s Torah portion, is the inclusion of the three-part blessing recited by the Cohanim, the descendants of Aharon, who functioned as the priests of the Tabernacle and later of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem.

May 28, 2020

Naomi and Ruth: The Vulnerability of Women & Immigrants

On Shavuot this past week, Megillat Rut/ the Scroll of Ruth is read, ostensibly because the barley harvest is a key plot line (Ruth 1:22- Ruth and Naomi arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest) and Shavuot takes place during the harvest season, celebrating the bringing of "bikkurim/ first fruits" (which most people don't realize refer to stalks of grain, not actual tree fruit). There are also other less obvious thematic parallels, but let's stick with this one for now.

May 22, 2020

The Wilderness Is Speaking to You

It’s always fascinating when something that seems ancient and irrelevant to our lives today is shown to in fact, relate a powerful message for our times. In this week’s Torah portion BaMidbar, we find the tribes of Israel having escaped from Egypt, now marching through the wilderness of Sinai on their way to the “Promised Land.”

May 15, 2020

Even Dirt Gets to Rest (Pandemic Shmitah)

In this week’s parsha, Behar-Bechukotai, G!D tells the Israelites that when they arrived in the Land of Israel, they must allow the land to rest once every seven years. All of us around the world, Jewish and not, are now living this Shmitah (“release” on the 7th year) experience during the pandemic.

May 8, 2020

Elevating Sacred Moments

Four years ago at this same time, I was in Poland and Israel on the Leo Martin March of the Living. The trip fell precisely during Parashat Kedoshim (Be Holy), our Torah portion last week, and Parashat Emor (Say… to the Israelites), our Torah portion this week. I'll share two remarkable stories with you (among so many others that take place during this transformational program).

May 1, 2020

Transitioning from Death to Life

s a double portion, this parshah opens with Aharei Mot (Vayikra/Leviticus 16:1-18:30) and ends with Kedoshim (Vayikra/Leviticus 19:1- 20:27). In Acharei Mot, G-d tells Aaron how to move from the death of his sons back to the journey of life, how to make the transition from death to life, and how to create rituals that move us through our periods of transitions.

Apr 24, 2020

Life, Death and Impurity

My spiritual and intellectual journey as a teacher of Torah began with the purity system in Leviticus. Perhaps this was a strange place to begin my life’s passion — exploring genital discharges, corpse contamination and leprosy. However, the study of biblical purity laws yielded for me a profound appreciation for the beauty and wisdom of our tradition.

Apr 17, 2020

The Doorway of 8

These are strange and unsettling days. Days that might begin with productive equanimity, laughter, with intentional focusing in on the small joys: new recipes, new puzzles, new novels to begin. And yet, too often, these same days can slip into potholes of darkness: unexpected bouts of fear, loss, grief. With our daily rhythms so dramatically altered, it is easy to lose track of time. Days blur and lack their familiar markers.

Apr 17, 2020

Melton & More presents Meditation Mondays!

Studies have shown that practicing meditation and mindfulness helps to lower levels of stress and anxiety and contribute to overall well-being; something we could all use right now!

Nov 9, 2017

Words of Wisdom by Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar

The Silence of Dinah and Other Rape Victims: The Bible focuses on Jacob's and his son's reactions, but not on those of the victim herself.