Two Minutes of Torah

The JCRC's Rabbi in Residence, Abbi Sharofsky, provides our community with an engaging commentary on the week’s Torah portion.

  • December 4, 2019 / 6 Kislev 5780

    Parashat Vayetzei

    Two Minutes of Torah with Rabbi Abbi Sharofsky

    This week’s Torah portion, Vayetzei begins with Jacob’s interactions with the Divine. He dreams of a stairway leading to heaven, angels going up and down it, and God blessing him.

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  • November 27, 2019 / 29 Cheshvan 5780

    Parashat Toldot

    Two Minutes of Torah with Rabbi Abbi Sharofsky

    As you are reading this, I am at my parents’ house in New Jersey. It’s good to be home for the holidays. I love Thanksgiving and all that comes with it. Families gathering from all over, the travel plans, the food, total participation in this very American holiday.

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  • November 20, 2019 / 22 Cheshvan 5780

    Parashat Chayei Sarah

    Two Minutes of Torah with Rabbi Abbi Sharofsky

    This week’s Torah portion, Chayei Sarah, opens with Abraham finding a suitable piece of land for burying Sarah. Abraham will eventually be buried in the same location. This poignant vignette exemplifies the mitzvah of kavod ha-met, honoring of the deceased, Abraham burying Sarah in a space that was designated for her and her family members demonstrated his love and respect for her. Like Abraham, we too bury our loved ones with dignity, in respectful and well-maintained spaces.

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  • November 13, 2019 / 15 Cheshvan 5780

    Parashat Vayera

    Two Minutes of Torah with Rabbi Abbi Sharofsky

    One of my most formative experiences in rabbinical school was clinical pastoral education (CPE). In addition to my formal training, after my ordination I completed a year-long residency at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Manhattan. Although I was initially intimidated by this most sensitive and critical of clerical duties, I quickly grew to enjoy being a spiritual care provider: I like the energy of acute care settings, and I love working with people of all religions, challenging myself to deeply explore my own faith in order to help others.

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  • November 6, 2019 / 8 Cheshvan 5780

    Parashat Lech L’cha

    Two Minutes of Torah with Rabbi Abbi Sharofsky

    I received an email reminder Sunday afternoon about a Monday meeting, asking participants what type of meat-based sandwiches from a local restaurant they preferred for lunch. I immediately wrote back, thanking the meeting organizer and requesting a vegetarian option, as I keep kosher and do not eat meat from non-kosher establishments. Our host’s response came within minutes –it was of course not a problem.

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  • October 30, 2019 / 31 Tishrei 5780

    Parshat Noah

    Two Minutes of Torah with Rabbi Abbi Sharofsky

    A teacher of mine once remarked on the absurdity, in his opinion, of using Noah’s ark as a decorative motif for children’s spaces. Why is a story of destruction, emotional turmoil, and family betrayal portrayed in bright cartoon characters? Why commercialize the few verses about animals and skip over the main reason of the flood – God destroying the world? Life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, especially because the unicorns never made it on the ark.

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  • October 23, 2019 / 24 Tishrei 5780

    Parashat Bereishit

    Two Minutes of Torah with Rabbi Abbi Sharofsky

    Of all the powerful stories contained in this week’s parsha, Bereishit, the dramatic narrative of Cain and Abel, the original Biblical fratricide, stands out as a compelling validation of the power of restorative justice.

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  • October 13, 2019 / 15 Tishrei 5780

    Sukkot 5780

    Two Minutes of Torah with Rabbi Abbi Sharofsky

    Jews have constructed sukkot for thousands of years. They were discussed in the Torah and usedthroughout the Temple periods in Jerusalem. Today they  are widely available for purchase online in “pop up” and “E-Z” varieties. A quick search for “sukkah” on Amazon yielded 521 results, ranging from sukkah-building kits to sukkah decorations to a t-shirt that says “I’d rather be sitting in my sukkah. #FeastofTabernacles.” There’s a carry-on sukkah -- including a kosher bamboo mat for the roof – that can be set up in five to ten minutes and sukkotcomplete with plastic windows, reinforced canvas and plastic sides, click together poles, and murals painted on the sides, all available for sale at several online shops, shipped right to your front door.

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  • October 2, 2019 / 3 Tishrei 5780

    Parashat Vayeilech - 5780

    Two Minutes of Torah with Rabbi Abbi Sharofsky

    Leadership transitions are complicated, as we see in this week’s Torah portion, Vayelech. Moses knows his life is ending and he will not lead the Israelites into the Land of Israel. Joshua will take up the mantle of leadership. However, before Joshua can lead, Moses needs to be able to step aside.

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  • September 25, 2019 / 25 Elul 5779

    Parshat Nitzavim

    Two Minutes of Torah with Rabbi Abbi Sharofsky

    The Jewish people are assembled, standing and waiting, anxious, tired, hungry, and unsure of themselves in this setting. Every moment that passes brings them closer to an unknown future in the Promised Land.

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  • September 18, 2019 / 18 Elul 5779

    Parshat Ki Tavo

    Two Minutes of Torah with Rabbi Abbi Sharofsky

    Sound familiar? These verses play a central role in the narrative of the Passover seder, establishing the Israelites as slaves in Egypt and recounting the miracle of their exodus. They also highlight a concept present throughout much of this week’s Torah reading: gratitude.

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  • September 11, 2019 / 11 Elul 5779

    Parshat Ki Teitsei

    Two Minutes of Torah with Rabbi Abbi Sharofsky

    The last verse of this week’s Torah portion, Ki Teitsei, captures the complexity of trauma and memory. One part of the verse tells us to wipe out the memory of Amalek, the tyrannical nation that set out to kill the Israelites in the desert. The second part commands us to not forget. Which one is it? At times, we focus all our energy on wiping out those who have or will hurt us, to the point where our pain turns into hatred. We perhaps give short shrift to the exhortation to remember the human suffering that results from any enmity, and to strive to choose differently in our own lives.

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  • September 4, 2019 / 4 Elul 5779

    Parshat Shoftim

    Two Minutes of Torah with Rabbi Abbi Sharofsky

    The last verse of this week’s Torah portion, Ki Teitsei, captures the complexity of trauma and memory. One part of the verse tells us to wipe out the memory of Amalek, the tyrannical nation that set out to kill the Israelites in the desert. The second part commands us to not forget. Which one is it? At times, we focus all our energy on wiping out those who have or will hurt us, to the point where our pain turns into hatred. We perhaps give short shrift to the exhortation to remember the human suffering that results from any enmity, and to strive to choose differently in our own lives.

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