Posts

Showing posts from February, 2012

Mishpatim

Sermon Leo Baeck College / Sinai Synagogue Leeds Parashat Mishpatim
The Shadow Side of Torah
If last week’s parashah (Yitro) was the wedding ceremony, this week’s reading should be the honeymoon. Last week’s parashah was so easy to fall in love with. There was the wisdom of Yitro, the romance of Revelation and the drama of the Ten Utterances to woo the reader. We collectively experienced the marriage between God and the people of Israel as we became His bride and as He presented us with His ketubah. So, a romantic honeymoon seems to be in the making!
There is much to love in Parashat Mishpatim. God and Israel are starting to build their relationship and working out the details of living a covenanted life together. Up to this point, there is much to be happy about. Mishpatim is the parashah that gives us such moral classics as ‘do not oppress the stranger for you were strangers in Egypt’ (Ex. 22:20) and ‘you shall neither side with the mighty to do wrong—you shall not give perverse test…

Parashat Yitro

Sermon Birmingham Progressive Community Esther Hugenholtz
Parashat Yitro – We Are All Jews-by-Choice
What does it mean to be Jewish?
I am sure there are as many answers as there are Jews and – you’ll find this very Jewish of me! – there’s not one ‘right’ answer. Some of us may say that Judaism is about a profound sense of history. Others will say that being Jewish is about being a mensch. I am sure some of you might say that being Jewish is to feel an inextricable connection to the land (and people) of Israel. And yet for others, being Jewish is about tapping into a deep spirituality.
And the list goes on. We have so many ways of ‘being Jewish’. Flavourful matzoh ball soup on Friday night, the white-and-blue JNF tin for loose change. Faded sepia photographs of trade unionist grandparents in the garment industry. But also the habit of perking up with pride when a famous Jew is mentioned in the newspaper. For Jews of the Near East, being Jewish may mean kibbeh and choumous and Torah rea…