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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Everybody has an opinion on whether politics should be brought to the pulpit, but according to Rabbi Jacobs, this debate was settled centuries ago. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs discusses haftarot – what they are, why we read them, and what they have to say about politics.
Kol Yisrael translates to “all of Israel.” In Parashat D’varim, when Moses speaks to kol Yisrael, he’s not speaking to a divided Jewish people: he’s speaking to them as one. It’s fitting that this year, we read Parashat D’varim in the lead up to the Israeli Supreme Court’s ruling on an egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs describes what this agreement, the fallout, and the upcoming decision means for Reform Judaism.
The double portion of Parashat Matot-Mas’ei details the 42 stops that the Jewish people made on their journey from Egypt to the promised land. In light of this parashah, in this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs details the journey of the Reform Judaism, and the stops along the way that contributed to who we are today.
In Parashat Pinchas, Zelophehad’s five daughters petition God. It’s the first picture that the Torah provides of radical, essential challenging of the rules, and better yet, the challenging is done by women. What kind of significance does this hold? Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacob’s take on it in this episode of On the Other Hand.
This week, Rabbi Jacobs welcomes singer/songwriter Neshama Carlebach. They discuss Parashat Balak¸ which songs speak to their souls, and what it’s like to travel the world as a Jewish singer. Plus, she shares a melody about gratitude and moving forward from pain.
Parashat Chukat contains the commandment of the red heifer, and it’s one that many people find puzzling. What should we think of the commandments that don’t have an explanation? Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism discuss what things may be worth letting go, and how we can keep Jewish life vibrant in the 21st century.
In this infamous parashah, Korach, a relative of Moses, argues with Moses, wondering why he can’t be the leader of the Israelites instead. Disagreement can be sacred in the Jewish tradition, but when does that disagreement become self-serving? Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses disagreement, divisiveness, and compromise, in this episode of On the Other Hand.
What does it mean to be on the fringes of Judaism? Does Judaism allow for creativity, allowing those on the fringe who want, to be brought toward the center? Is Judaism open to different forms of expression? In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs describes his take, and how it fits in to Parashat Sh’lach L’cha.
In this episode of On The Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs is joined by April Baskin, URJ Vice President of Audacious Hospitality, to discuss the provocative text in Parashat B’haalot’cha when Miriam and Aaron talk behind Moses’s back about Moses marrying Tziporah, a Kushite woman. Listen to Rabbi Jacobs and April Baskin discuss this text, whether Judaism is colorblind, and where the North American Jewish community can do better by Jews of Color.
Parashat Naso features a very famous blessing – but what does it mean for one person to bless another? Is it a power reserved for the ancient priests, or is it something that we are all capable of? What kinds of actions constitute a blessing? Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, describe what he sees as a blessing in this episode of On the Other Hand.