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On the Other Hand: Ten Minutes of Torah

On the Other Hand: Ten Minutes of Torah, a podcast presented by ReformJudaism.org. 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 Facebook.com/reformjudaism.
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Jan 22, 2018

In Parashat B'shalach, the Israelites arrive at the Sea of Reeds, the sea parts, and they walk across dry land toward freedom. Before they cross, though, there's a moment where Moses stands in front of the sea, and he has no idea what to do. He obviously figures it out... but how? Rabbi Jacobs discusses Parashat B'shalach, and the difference between action and prayer, in this episode of On the Other Hand: Ten Minutes of Torah.

Jan 15, 2018

Parashat Bo features the four famous words, "let my people go,” a refrain for countless communities seeking freedom. In this episode of On the Other Hand: Ten Minutes of Torah, Rabbi Jacobs discusses some of those communities, and how the Israelites' fight for liberation inspired and fueled their movements.

Jan 8, 2018

This week, Rabbi Jacobs discusses Parashat Va-eira. Parashat Va-eira is read during Shabbat Tzedek, right before we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, and it's fitting that this parashah tells the story of the Israelites' exodus from Egypt. What can we learn about social justice from this story? Listen to this episode of On the Other Hand: Ten Minutes of Torah to find out.

Jan 1, 2018

Happy 2018! In our first episode of the secular new year, Rabbi Rick Jacobs welcomes guest host and friend Reverend Frederick A. Davie, Executive Vice President of Union Theological Seminary. Together, they discuss parashat Sh’mot and our individual capacity to drive change in the world. They wonder: What motivates us to take action – and what are the parameters for change?

Dec 25, 2017

Jacob’s death, which takes place in parashat Va-y’chi, marks the end of an epoch in the life of the Jewish people. Discussing the final Torah portion in the book of Genesis – and the last we’ll read in 2017 – Rabbi Rick Jacobs explores: What does it mean to live on after our time on earth has ended? What kind of legacy do we leave behind?

Dec 18, 2017

In the 100th episode of “On the Other Hand,” Rabbi Jacobs discusses Joseph. Where would he be if he were alive today? And, was Joseph a good guy?

 

Dec 11, 2017

In this special Hanukkah episode of “On the Other Hand,” Rabbi Jacobs discusses a passage in the Talmud that instructs Jews to place their hanukkiyot (Hanukkah menorahs) in their windows. What might this mean today, in a world where hate crimes are on the rise?

Dec 4, 2017

Joseph is young, brash, and full of dreams—and then he’s sold into slavery. What’s Joseph’s legacy, and what can we learn from Joseph about growing up and becoming our best selves? In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs talks Parashat Vayeishev.

Nov 27, 2017

Sexual harassment and assault is an issue that dates all the way back to biblical times. For example, in Parashat Vayishlach, Dinah is assaulted by Shechem. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs discusses the question: How can we use these texts to guide us toward healing, and a promise to do better?  

Nov 20, 2017

Parashat Vayeitzei tells the story of Jacob’s journey. But it’s more than just the story of a journey: it’s the story of a refugee and in a world with more than 60 million refugees, this story is as important as ever. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs talks of our responsibility as Jews to welcome refugees.

Nov 13, 2017

In Parshat Tol’dot, we read about the birth of twins Jacob and Esau. It’s one of the Torah’s more famous stories, and it has an important message about choosing one’s path in life. Listen to this week’s episode of On the Other Hand to hear what Rabbi Jacobs thinks Jacob and Esau can teach us today, and what they have in common with Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Nov 6, 2017

In Parashat Chayei Sarah, which discusses the death of Sarah, one of the first things we learn is where and when she dies. This piece of information may seem small, but it actually tells us quite a bit about Sarah. Rabbi Rick Jacobs explains why, in this episode of On the Other Hand.

Oct 30, 2017

In Parashat Vayeira, Sarah pretends for the second time that she’s Abraham’s sister instead of his wife. Even though it may seem like an odd trend, there is, of course, something to learn from it. Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, give his take, in this episode of On the Other Hand.

Oct 23, 2017

Many people consider Parashat Lech L’cha to be the story of Avram, or Abraham, leaving his father to begin his life as a Jew. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs makes the case that Avram didn’t actually leave anyone behind, but instead, he went with.

 

Oct 16, 2017

In Parashat Noach, God sends a flood to Earth as punishment for corruption and lawlessness. As we’re living in the aftermath of several natural disasters today,  some may wonder  what  “acts of God” really are. Rabbi Jacobs gives his take in this episode of On the Other Hand

Oct 9, 2017

As we begin a new cycle of study and learning with Parashat B’reishit, Rabbi Jacobs makes a case for the number seven. Why is the number seven so significant, and what does this significance mean in Judaism? Rabbi Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, explains, in this episode of On the Other Hand.

Oct 2, 2017

Sukkot, the holiday that celebrates the harvest and the beauty of the natural world, is this week. On Sukkot, we read Kohelet (Book of Ecclesiastes). Kohelet doesn’t have the theology of typical Jewish textual teachings, but it does have an important message about reaping what you sow. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, gives his thoughts on Sukkot and Kohelet in this episode of On the Other Hand.

Sep 25, 2017

During the ten days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, we’re tasked with the difficult job of repentance. It can be the hardest work of our lives to find forgiveness for those who have hurt us and to ask for forgiveness from those we have hurt, but it can also be the most important.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, shares his thoughts on repentance, forgiveness, and letting things go, in this episode of On the Other Hand.

Sep 18, 2017

We read the Akeidah, or the Binding of Isaac, on Rosh Hashanah, where God commands Abraham to take his son, Isaac, up to Mount Morriah and sacrifice him. Thankfully God doesn’t actually require Abraham to follow through, but still, it’s a difficult request. Are we, like Abraham, obligated to always be obedient, or should we question authority? Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, shares his thoughts in this episode of On the Other Hand.

Sep 11, 2017

For many, the double portion Nitzavim-Vayeilech  is comforting. Judaism is a religion full of commandments, but Nitzavim-Vayeilech assures us that everything we need to be Jewish is in our very hearts. Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs describe where spirituality lies, and how we can collectively uncover more holiness.

Sep 4, 2017

Ki Tavo translates to “when you get there.” the phrasing is “when,” and not “if,” because the Torah reminds us that there was never a doubt that the Israelites would reach The Land of Milk and Honey. Still, Parashat Ki Tavo serves as an important reminder of who the Israelites were: wanderers. In this episode of On the Other Hand, listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs describe why this point, and this parashah as a whole, are so important.

Aug 28, 2017

In Parashat Ki Teitzei, we read the phrase, “you shall not abhor an Egyptian, for you are a stranger in his land.” This statement is read only a few months after Leviticus, when the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians, making it a little easier said than done. How can we manage not to hate those who do us serious wrong? Rabbi Jacobs shares his advice in this episode of On the Other Hand.

Aug 21, 2017

Parashat Shof’tim is all about judges: who should judge, how they should judge, and why a good judge is so important. So, who are the great judges of our time, and why are they so great? In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, gives his take.

Aug 14, 2017

Parashat R’eih includes that infamous line: “you shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.” Jewish tradition categorizes the mitzvah of not mixing milk with meat as one without specific reasoning, but many scholars think the reason is clear: we should eat with compassion. Rabbi Jacobs explores the importance of eating with compassion in this episode of On the Other Hand.

Aug 7, 2017

A chapter in Parashat Eikev reads, “when you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless.” What does it mean to be satisfied, and what kind of power does a good meal have? Rabbi Jacobs explores this with Aliza Kline, Executive Director of OneTable, an organization that helps Millennials host and attend unique Shabbat dinners so they can make the most of Friday night.

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