Parashat B’har features an important teaching on environmental justice: that we are to be respectful of our land. Many Reform Jews express their respect for the environment with action, and many Reform congregations have gone zero-waste or are GreenFaith certified. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs discusses why it’s so important that we respect the environment, and shares some easy ways to do so.
Tucked at the very end of Parashat Emor we meet Shlomit bat Divri, the only woman whose name we learn in Leviticus. But, why do we learn her name and not others? In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Rick Jacobs discusses the theories of different commentators, including, surprisingly, Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
Parashat Acharei Mot/K’doshim includes the holiness code, which, among the holy obligations about relationships and holidays, includes business ethics. These ethics aren’t just for folks who work in business—these ethics apply to everyone, and are some of the most challenging obligations that the Torah gives. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Rick Jacobs discusses why it’s so important to consider ethics in every corner of life.
Parashat Tazria-M’tzora includes teachings about the ancient disease of leprosy and those who were lepers, people who were were cast out of their communities. Their illness wasn’t seen as a cause of biology, but as punishment for sin. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs describes how in many ways, the treatment of lepers in biblical times parallels the treatment of the Jewish people throughout time.
This year, we read Parashat Sh’mini, the same week that we observe Yom HaShoah. We’re still overcome with the extraordinary pain and loss of the Holocaust, and we ask: how do we commemorate? Rabbi Jacobs explores this question in this week’s episode of On the Other Hand.
Parashat Sh'mini details which foods are and are not kosher. And during Passover, there are even more rules to follow when it comes to food. What is there to gain from restricting what we eat? Rabbi Rick Jacobs gives his take in this episide of On the Other Hand.
It’s almost Passover! One thing that makes Passover special is where you celebrate it—in your home, at the home of a friend or family member, or at a community seder. Across all of these different sedarim and celebrations, people have their own traditions and their own adaptions. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Rick Jacobs discusses the new traditions and adaptations that he’s encountered which you may like too.
Parashat Tzav is the second portion in the Book of Leviticus, and it’s said in the midrash that a child’s Torah education should start with Leviticus. So, while we read a book that is for our youngest leaders, let us follow our youngest leaders: those who are fighting against gun violence. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs stresses the importance of fighting alongside, and for, our children.
Parashat Vayikra is the first portion of the Book of Leviticus. Vayikra describes a lot that might not directly resonate with modern spiritual life, but it still offers much for us to think about. What’s the point of these parashiyot that don’t apply to our daily lives? Rabbi Rick Jacobs gives his answer in this episode of On the Other Hand.
Michael Arad, the visionary architect who designed New York’s National 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site, joins Rabbi Rick Jacobs in this episode of On the Other Hand. They discuss the double portion of Vayak’heil-P’kudei, what it means when a space fosters community, and Arad’s design for a pluralistic prayer space at the Western Wall.
Parashat Ki Tisa features what is arguably one of Judaism’s most powerful teachings: no matter how busy you are, and no matter how important the task at hand is, you must rest. In this episode, Rabbi Rick Jacobs discusses the power and importance of Shabbat, and what Shabbat looks like for Reform Jews today.
Parashat T’tzaveh goes into detail about the ritual garments and dress of the ancient high priests. In almost every religious community, the leaders wear distinctive garments that make their roles clear in their respective communities. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs wonders whether those who wear these garments are the only spiritual leaders in their communities, and shares a touching story about one of his own unexpected spiritual leaders.
In Parashat T'rumah, God asks the Israelites for gifts and there are so many different ways and reasons that people give - but is there a best way? Rabbi Rick Jacobs discusses different perspectives on giving in this episode of On the Other Hand.
Near the end of Parashat Mishpatim, God tells Moses to go to the mountain, and to “be there.” Why would God tell Moses to “be there” after already telling him exactly where to be? In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Rick Jacobs poses the idea that God wants to make sure Moses is spiritually, emotionally, and mentally present—and that being present in that way is just as important for all of us today as it was for Moses.
In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs talks with Rabbi Judy Schindler. They discuss Parashat Yitro, expanding the tent of Jewish life, the legacy passed down by her father, social justice activism, and Rabbi Schindler's book Recharging Judaism. Rabbi Schindler is the Sklut Professor of Jewish Studies and Director of the Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice at Queens University of Charlotte and Rabbi Emerita at Temple Beth El in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.
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?
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.