On the Other Hand: Ten Minutes of Torah

On the Other Hand: Ten Minutes of Torah, a podcast presented by Each week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union For Reform Judaism, will offer divrei Torah (insights into the weekly Torah portion) to help open up Jewish thought and its contemporary influence on your life. He condenses 2,000 years of Jewish wisdom into just 10 minutes of modern-day commentary. There are plenty of ways to interpret Torah and we want to hear what you think. You can weigh in on this week’s Torah portion by talking to us on Twitter @URJ or at
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Aug 22, 2016

It’s natural for people who have much more than what they need to spend time thinking about the things that they do not have, rather than being thankful.  In many of our lives, there is an extremely prominent divide between those who have more than they need, and those who struggle. In Parashat Eikev, Rabbi Rick Jacobs highlights the divide between what we are entitled to and what we take for granted each day.  How do we give spiritual meaning to what we do have rather than focusing on what we could have had?

Aug 15, 2016

Ten is an important number in Jewish tradition, and in this parashah we read the second telling of the Ten Commandments. Though many consider the essence of Judaism to be the Ten Commandments, they aren’t necessarily the most important of the 613 commandments. More important than being able to recite the Ten Commandments from memory is embodying the essence of those commandments and practicing them.  God tells Moses, “Go up on the high place and raise your gaze, look out,”  challenging him to look up from his everyday tasks and see beyond the present moment to the future. We can all be inspired by that challenge, and look towards a future where each of us can distill Judaism into its essence, perhaps the way Micah taught: “Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discuss Parashat Va-et’chanan

Aug 8, 2016

Parashat D’varim, the opening portion of Deuteronomy, encourages us as individuals, congregations, and communities to avoid getting stuck in one way of thinking. Though there is comfort in the familiar, sticking to the status quo inhibits innovation. Remember that, without  innovation and risk-taking in our Reform Movement, there would be no URJ camps or women rabbis. This week, we are encouraged to appreciate how far we’ve come, and all we’ve done in our given spaces, but to also take a step forward into the future. Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discuss Parashat D'varim.

Aug 1, 2016

You have probably heard the saying that life is a journey and not a destination, but what exactly does that mean?  Wherever we go in life, we are constantly meeting new people, experiencing new things, and exploring new places.  Even if something seems like a destination, like landing a new job or moving, people constantly learn and grow from the experiences that they have in any given place.  Parashat Matot Ma-sei reminds us to journey forth, journey far, and journey deeply through life, and that the masa (journey), and not the destination, is home.  Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses the importance of changing environments and making new connections to achieve clarity in life.

Jul 25, 2016

In this week’s Torah portion, we read the story of Pinchas who kills an Israelite out of zealous belief. There are many who equate “people of faith” with zealotry, doing anything to ensure the continuation of a religion or peoplehood. But how can we turn that definition around to the idea that  "people of faith" are good, kind, caring people who tend to their community? We should not let religion be hijacked by zealots – not in the bible, and not today. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, examines Parashat Pinchas.

Jul 18, 2016

Parashat Balak teaches us to draw strength and inspiration from everyone around us. We read the story of how the Moabite King Balak tried, and failed, to destroy the Jewish people with the help of his sorcerer Balaam. How does a curse become a blessing? This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs highlights how we can welcome all types of people into the family of Judaism, whether they were born into it or not.

Jul 11, 2016

In Judaism, mayim, or water, is not only crucial to sustaining life, but it is also a symbol of wisdom and Torah. Parashat Chukat addresses the thirst that the Jews have while wandering the desert after Miriam the prophet dies, which also represents the yearning for the wisdom and nourishment that Miriam provided. The Jewish people are thirsty and eager to drink from the well of tradition. Rabbi Rick Jacobs discusses Parashat Chukat, the Torah portion read on 7/16/16.

Jul 4, 2016

In Jewish history and culture, there has been no shortage of arguments; in fact, the entire Talmud is composed of arguments about some of the most important issues in history. In Parashat Korach, Korach is clearly upset and challenges authority – but why does he do this?  Is he a rebel with a cause, or is he acting out with no clear intention?  This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses the importance of intent behind leadership and fighting for a cause.

Jun 27, 2016

When faced with anxiety about the future, how can one persevere as a strong leader? How have we pushed people to the edges of our Jewish communities, and how do we gather them back? Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, explores Parashat Sh'lach L'cha.

Jun 20, 2016

Even with good intentions, when we talk about people who are not present, we run the risk of disparaging them, without giving them the opportunity to respond.  Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses one of the themes of Parashat B'haalot'cha: how the words we use affect ourselves and others.

Jun 13, 2016

Do we do things because they bring us meaning, or do things have meaning because we do them?  Can your morning yoga class or walk through the park serve as a source of spiritual inspiration? Our personal choices, such as exercising,  wearing jewelry with Jewish symbols and writings, or leading creative pursuits, can lead to a more meaningful life full of significant journeys and spiritual commitment.  This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses the Torah portion Naso (read on 6/18/16), and teaches about the Nazarite oath.

Jun 6, 2016

A remarkable new demographic says that Jews of color make up 10-20% of the Jewish population. When we look around our congregations, it may be hard to believe that statistic. There are many who are not counted because we’re not doing a good job of opening our arms wide. 

Like our ancestors, we focus on our own modern day tribes: The tribes of the Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, and secular. Amidst our real differences, can we sew ourselves together into a larger identity of being Am Yisrael – one people? 

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses these themes in this week's Torah portion, Parashat B'midbar.

May 30, 2016

Does being a person of faith mean you believe in blessings and curses? Why should we always "do the right thing?" Are we rewarded or punished for what we do in the world? Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses the messages in this week's Torah portion, Parashat B'chukotai.

May 23, 2016

This week Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President for the Union for Reform Judaism, teaches about parshat B'har wondering what would social justice to the extreme look like and did the Torah know to teach it thousands of years ago?

May 16, 2016

This week Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, speaks about parashat Emor and asks: how do you enact justice in modern times to make the world more balanced? And how do you elevate the receiver -- not your own self, the giver?

May 9, 2016

This week in parshat K'doshim, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President for the Union for Reform Judaism, wonders who is your neighbor? Can you love them even if they are not like you? If -- and when -- you do, can it change your life and even someone else’s?

May 2, 2016

Passover may have just ended, but it’s not too early to talk about Yom Kippur and second chances. This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs talks about making mistakes and the sometimes-negative consequences of innovation.

Apr 24, 2016

In this week's special edition of On The Other Hand: Ten Minutes of Torah, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, talks about the Jewish calendar, including how we mark time and how we find meaning.


Apr 18, 2016

Passover means matzah, and this week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, talks about how, love it or hate it, eating the “bread of affliction” might actually teach us about empathy. He also pushes us to think about how having tough conversations at our Passover seder might be a new kind of liberation.

Apr 11, 2016

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, wonders if asking questions during a Passover seder is a religious mandate, or if it is actually demanded of us, and whether eating kosher for Passover bagels is really in the spirit of the holiday. 


Apr 4, 2016

This week Rabbi Rick Jacobs teaches us from Parashat Tazria in the book of Leviticus, asking where we start when we need healing. 

Mar 28, 2016

Is there a spiritual or moral dimension to how we choose what we eat? Parashat Sh'mini from the book of Leviticus opens up a conversation about keeping kosher – Rabbi Rick Jacobs moves it along.

Mar 21, 2016

What are we actually obligated to do? What is imposed and what do we choose? Rabbi Rick Jacobs explores Parashat Tzav.

Mar 13, 2016

How can we be religious innovators, keeping the essence of tradition, but remembering how far we can go? Learn about these themes in Vayikra with Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Mar 6, 2016

What is the difference between individual spiritual experiences and collective experiences? Is one more powerful than the other? And, if so, what does that mean? Rabbi Rick Jacobs teaches how Parashat P'kudei highlights what can happen when communities become holy.

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