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From Rabbi David - Turning to Transformative Thinkers, D'var Torah for a New Year

10/16/2020 02:51:18 PM

Oct16

Dear Friends,

As we begin Parashat Beresheet, the beginning of Genesis, I am committing to a year of teaching in which I center the voices of thinkers who, in the words of the groundbreaking feminist Judith Plaskow, mine texts and ideas to bring about transformative change.  Most of these thinkers will be Jewish feminists, while some may not necessarily identify themselves as feminists or as Jewish.  But all will share a vision that flows from a critique of power and a goal to lift up voices and people who have historically been silenced.

Why am I doing this?   This is a time, I believe, that calls for the insights of those who are committed to moral renewal for the good of human society and our planet.  More personally, centering these thinkers represents a tikkun for me as a rabbi.  While I would like to believe that my teaching of Torah has been shaped by feminist and other liberatory frameworks, I have developed the habit of  focusing solely on the texts themselves when I teach, often neglecting to hold up those who have influenced my underlying outlook.  The reasons are many and perhaps understandable, but the silence is wrong.  It does not properly give credit to courageous and creative thinkers, and it prevents you from hearing about compelling work that you may find illuminating as well.  I embrace this project as an exciting challenge to grow, giving me the opportunity learn and share Torah in new ways.  

I hope to share a recorded d’var each week, each one 5-7 minutes in length, their brevity also a personal challenge.  Inevitably, some weeks I won’t be able to.  Ultimately, these divrei Torah are intended not as stand-alone statements, but threads of an ongoing conversion, so I hope you will be generous in sharing with me your responses, comments and critiques.

As we approach Shabbat Beresheet, here is the first d’var Torah for a new year, in which I draw on Judith Plaskow and her challenge to re-envision depictions of God, sharing links to some sources below.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and, in these last days of Tishrei, a Shanah Tovah.

Warmly,

 

Rabbi Justin David

For more on Judith Plaskow, follow this link.

Rashi on the beginning of Genesis.

Nachmanides on the beginning of Genesis (scroll down for English). 

Midrash on the beginning of Beresheet.

 

 

Sun, October 25 2020 7 Cheshvan 5781