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On the Other Hand: Ten Minutes of Torah

Reform Jewish Thought with Rabbi Rick Jacobs
On the Other Hand: Ten Minutes of Torah

Description

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.

Episodes

A Passover of Hope

Apr 6, 2020 28:50

Description:

Why is this Passover not like all other Passovers? How can we observe this festival meaningfully and connected to one another during this COVID-19 pandemic? How can we use Passover’s plagues to inspire us to combat the literal and figurative plagues that infect humanity today? This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs shares his insight and advice for making this year’s Passover one that is unique yet equally fulfilling and hopeful. To learn more about how to plan creatively for this year’s festivities, visit ReformJudaism.org/homeseder and URJ.org/covidresources.

Following Their Lead

Mar 30, 2020 12:15

Description:

Jewish wisdom says a child’s Torah education should start with the Book of Leviticus. As we read its second portion, Parashat Tzav, we share an episode that first ran in 2018, just after a school shooting in Parkland, FL, killed 17 people and injured 17 more. Rabbi Rick Jacobs stresses the importance of fighting for and with our young people, raising up the Jewish teens who, amid tragedy, mobilized for gun violence prevention.

The Laws of Leviticus, Choice, and A.J. Jacobs, the Gratitude Expert

Mar 23, 2020 19:41

Description:

How can we find modern meaning in ancient rituals? From our "greatest hits" collection comes this episode from March 2019, featuring Rabbi Rick Jacobs in conversation with acclaimed author A.J. Jacobs, perhaps best known for his book The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally As Possible. Together, they talk Parashat Vayikra, the evolution of Jewish tradition, and adopting an attitude of gratitude.

Special Episode: Announcing a New Format, Coming Soon!

Mar 23, 2020 01:49

Description:

Four years after launching our weekly Torah podcast, we’re getting ready to shake things up a little! Exciting new changes are coming to On the Other Hand: Ten Minutes of Torah – so take a quick listen to this special announcement for a sneak peek of what to expect in the days and weeks to come.

Three United Faiths, One Divine Presence

Mar 16, 2020 18:27

Description:

In Vayak’heil-P’kudei, we see that God was so pleased with the Israelites’ sacred space (the Tabernacle) that God’s own presence descended upon them as they wandered through the desert. This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs is joined by Rabbi Aryeh Azriel of the Tri-Faith Initiative in Omaha, NE who discusses how the Initiative came to be, how he co-created this “sacred space” with local Muslim and Christian leaders, and how our Reform congregations can do the same with other local faith communities.

Slowing Ourselves to Anger

Mar 9, 2020 15:09

Description:

What is the Jewish approach to anger? How do we deal with it in a way that’s healthy? This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs explores Parashah Ki Tisa and explores God’s anger toward the Israelites for their idolatry as well as the impact that our own anger can have on ourselves.

Let Your Eternal Light Shine

Mar 2, 2020 17:11

Description:

This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs takes a look at parashat T’tzaveh, in which the Israelites are commanded to create the ner tamid (eternal light) in the Tabernacle. He wonders: How is light symbolic in the Jewish tradition, and how can we best shine our own light toward others?

Building Our Own Tabernacle Together

Feb 24, 2020 19:50

Description:

In this week’s Parashah, the Israelites contribute whatever they can to Moses in order to help build the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Join Rabbi Rick Jacobs and special guest Andrés Spokoiny (President and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network - https://www.jfunders.org) as they discuss how we, similarly, can work together to build something sacred to benefit and support others for generations to come.

Mindfulness, Being Present, and Having Heart

Feb 17, 2020 13:09

Description:

What does it mean to be "mindful," to truly slow down and pay attention to what's happening in our daily lives? This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs explores this question through Parashat Misphatim when God beckons Moses to not only come up to a mountain, but to also "be" there.

Commanded to Honor, Compelled to Care

Feb 10, 2020 15:17

Description:

In Parashat Yitro, we are instructed to honor our parents, in part so that we may live longer lives. Rabbi Rick Jacobs takes a look at this commandment and wonders: What does honoring our parents mean, especially as our parents grow older, or if our relationships with them are complicated?

Lifting Hands and Sharing Power

Feb 3, 2020 12:24

Description:

This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs discusses Parashat B'shalach and the powerful image of Aaron and Hur lifting Moses' hands as he grew weary. How can this story inspire us to lift our own hands in prayer and in strengthening one another, and how can we share leadership equitably the way our patriarchs did in this story?

The Sacred Pursuit for Reparations

Jan 27, 2020 12:12

Description:

This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs takes a look at Parashat Bo and the behaviors of the Israelites during the Exodus from Egypt. He asks how we can use this story's moral framework, and our Jewish texts to understand and contextualize the idea of reparations owed to the descendants of kidnapped and enslaved Africans in the United States today.

Reaching the Promised Land

Jan 20, 2020 15:33

Description:

This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs discusses Parashat Va'eira and reflects on the commonalities between revolutionary leaders like Moses and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and how important it is that we fight tirelessly against injustice.

Born to Lead, Born to Serve

Jan 13, 2020 16:29

Description:

This week, as we move into the book of Exodus, we transition from learning about Joseph to learning about another Jewish leader: Moses. Rabbi Rick Jacobs wonders what it means to be a Jewish leader, and how leaders like Joseph, Moses, and others can inspire us to lead and serve in our communities today.

The Jewishness of Healing

Jan 6, 2020 15:08

Description:

In the closing portion of the book of Genesis, Joseph finds out his father is ill. Rabbi Jacobs, reflecting on his own experience with family illness, invites us to better understand what it means to "heal" others through our actions and our words, bringing us closer both to the Divine and to one another.

Formed in the Wilderness

Dec 30, 2019 18:18

Description:

This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs sits with Jeremy Fingerman, CEO of The Foundation for Jewish Camp, to discuss the impact and benefit that Jewish summer camp has on so many young people. They make a connection between Joseph’s relationship with his brother Judah, from this week's Torah portion, and how that connects to the sense of growth that summer camp fosters.

The Meaning of Our Miracle

Dec 23, 2019 14:51

Description:

As this week’s Torah portion focuses on Joseph and his brothers, Rabbi Rick Jacobs discusses another band of “brothers,” the Maccabees, and how their victory and the miracle of the oil can inspire us to shine our light on the rest of the world.

Under the Sky

Dec 16, 2019 27:29

Description:

In this week's Torah portion, as Joseph searches for his brothers, he also seeks the shalom (peace) that comes with rebuilding their relationship. How can we, too, find shalom through connecting with one another? Rabbi Jacobs sits down with Israeli musician David Broza, an intercultural bridge-builder himself, to answer this question and learn about how he found his shalom through music and connecting with others.

A Place Unlike Any Other

Dec 9, 2019 14:32

Description:

In Parashah Vayishlach, we find Jacob transforming a site into a holy and special place. Rabbi Rick Jacobs wonders what it means to make a place special and how we ascribe meaning to places near and dear to us.

The Power of Jewish Meditation

Dec 2, 2019 13:31

Description:

Many of us lead busy lives, but what if we were to take just one moment each day to simply "be present"? Rabbi Jacobs uses the story of Jacob's dream to guide us in meditating Jewishly so we can connect more deeply to the Divine, to ourselves, and to one another.

The Altar of Achievement

Nov 25, 2019 13:00

Description:

This week, Rabbi Jacobs discusses Parashat Tol'dot, or "The generations." Like Rebecca and her son Jacob, Rabbi Jacobs asks: Are we as parents inclined to put unrealistic expectations on our children? How can we help them grow to be their own unique, fulfilled individuals?

Two Jews, Three Opinions, One Heart

Nov 18, 2019 14:11

Description:

Sometimes, what isn't said is more provoking than what is said. This week, Rabbi Jacobs brings a curiosity about what the Torah doesn't tell us about Sarah's death, namely the relationship between Isaac and Ishmael, and how their moment of unity in grief can remind us to push our differences aside and come together as one.

And You Shall Love...

Nov 11, 2019 11:24

Description:

What can the akeidah (binding of Isaac) teach us about loving God and loving one another? In this week's Torah portion, Vayeira, Rabbi Jacobs explores the deeper meaning behind this challenging text and how it can test us, much like Abraham himself was tested, to love all of God's creations authentically and deeply.

Dancing With Our Tradition

Nov 4, 2019 14:49

Description:

This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs recounts his experience studying dance while in Rabbinical School, how partaking in an interpretive dance about Abraham, Sarah and Hagar challenged him theologically and artistically. He challenges us to think how we, too, can appreciate the art of dance to tell the Jewish story.

Fruit of the Vine

Oct 28, 2019 16:11

Description:

In Judaism, it's common to perform ritual and celebrate festivals with a glass of wine, but how do we do so while honoring those in recovery and their loved ones? This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs talks about Parashat Noach and how Noah's troubled relationship with alcohol can shed light on how we partner ritual and wine Jewishly and responsibly.  Find us on social media to share your thoughts: ReformJudaism.org: @ReformJudaism Rabbi Rick Jacobs: @URJPresident Union for Reform Judaism: @URJorg

Creation and Co-Existence, with Special Guest David Broza

Oct 20, 2019 23:58

Description:

What’s your creative process? How do you begin? This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs discusses Parashat B'reishit, which is all about Creation and the very beginning of everything. In his conversation with special guest, musician, artist and activist David Broza, David shares how to navigate chaos and focus on what is good and what can ultimately become good, if we are willing to step up and create it. Our episode ends with David serenading us with just that message.  Want to hear more from David Broza? Visit the ReformJudaism.org blog for our exclusive interview with him. Be sure to visit his website and follow him on Twitter @DavidBroza.

Within These Three Walls

Oct 13, 2019 13:22

Description:

This week is Chol HaMo-eid Sukkot, the six days between the festival of Sukkot and Simchat Torah. Join us as Rabbi Rick Jacobs discusses the importance of recognizing how the vulnerability of the temporary structure we create each year connects with our greater obligations to the world around us.

Do What We Can

Oct 7, 2019 12:04

Description:

This week with Yom Kippur we are continuing the theme of forgiveness. Rabbi Rick Jacobs revisits the story of Jonah and talks about how we must do what we can to create and support compassion.

Moving On And Letting Go

Sep 29, 2019 13:46

Description:

It’s that time of year, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, where we are celebrating the New Year and contemplating our previous actions, while thinking about what comes next. Is there someone or something from this past year that just seems impossible to forgive? This week Rabbi Rick Jacobs talks about forgiveness and the burden of keeping our grievances alive.

A Little Drop of Sweetness

Sep 23, 2019 14:31

Description:

This week we read Parashat Nitzavim, and we ring in the year 5780. Join us as Rabbi Rick Jacobs shares memories of Rosh HaShanah and enjoying the unique holiday customs and rituals within our Ashkenazi and Sephardic communities, and discusses the sweetness of sharing them with each other. Shanah Tovah!

The Commitment of Covenant

Sep 16, 2019 13:31

Description:

In this week’s Parashah, Ki Tavo, we are told to follow the commandments and uphold our covenants, as there will be blessings if we do, but curses if we do not. Rabbi Rick Jacobs reflects on the various types of covenants that we experience and agree to throughout our lives, and the responsibilities, and indeed blessings, that come with keeping our word to each other, to God and to ourselves.

Everyone Thinks They Are The Good Guys

Sep 9, 2019 21:51

Description:

Rabbi Rick Jacobs discusses Ki Teitzei, his Bar Mitzvah portion, which mentions the ethical constraints and restrictions that a person must consider, when going into war. Joining the conversation is this week’s guest, Rear Admiral Rabbi Harold L. Robinson, the highest ranking Jewish Chaplain in the history of the United States military, as they reflect on, among other things, how one’s values are tested, when faced with possibly endangering yourself, at the risk of doing what’s right.

The Pursuit of Justice

Sep 2, 2019 16:21

Description:

In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Shof’tim, Moses tells the people of Israel to select judges for every city. Rabbi Rick Jacobs discusses the standards that Moses set for those judges, how they are still relevant today, and what we must we do when those standards aren't met.

On The Road Again

Aug 26, 2019 14:14

Description:

When are the times that you knew you needed to show up and be present? This week Rabbi Rick Jacobs discusses Parashah R’eih, the three pilgrimage festivals of Passover, Sukkot, and Shavuot, and how our pilgrimages can connect us not only to each other and our ancestors, but our friends and partners of other faiths as well.

The Heart Of The Matter

Aug 19, 2019 12:31

Description:

Rabbi Rick Jacob’s reflection on Parashah Eikev, teaches about how imperative it is that as we encounter the natural ups and downs of life, we really try to remove the layers and get to the heart of the matter. He emphasizes that we must remain open to honest emotion, compassion, love and even vulnerability.

It Only Takes One

Aug 12, 2019 13:52

Description:

What was the most inspirational advice or speech or quote you ever heard? Who is the person that changed your life for the better? This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs discusses Parashah Va-et'chanan, sharing words from Rabbi Harold Schulweis, where we learn that it only takes one - one moment, one person, one God - to inspire us, and to move us.

Raising Our Voices

Aug 5, 2019 13:24

Description:

Often, we think about what actions we might've taken during trying moments in history -- but what are we doing right now? It’s not always easy to step forward. As Moses teaches us in this week’s Parashah, D'varim, and Rabbi Rick Jacobs reminds us by relating his experience at the Texas/Mexico border last week, learning to be a strong, yet fair leader may be challenging and even alienating at times, but it’s always worth it.

Our Moral Compass

Jul 29, 2019 14:39

Description:

We all face difficult decisions, but how do we reconcile our obligations and the repercussions of our actions? We should always ask ourselves – what is the better or kinder way to speak, to listen and to act? This week, as we learn about Matot-Mas'ei, Rabbi Rick Jacobs discusses the complications of ethics and war, hard choices, and the necessity of incorporating our moral compasses in the most challenging of times.

Bridging The Divide

Jul 22, 2019 14:19

Description:

What happens when zealotry is mistaken for passion? How do we measure our responses and find the humanity in each other during tense times? Rabbi Rick Jacobs delves into the unexpected lessons found in this week’s Parashah, Pinchas, through a Torah lens as well as how that applies to modern-day Israeli politics.

From Curses to Blessings

Jul 15, 2019 16:37

Description:

Sometimes the darkest moments bring out the light and opportunities arise for adversaries to become advocates. This week, in Parashat Balak, we learn about King Balak, who fears the Israelites and decides to have them cursed. Balak’s hired soothsayer tries to curse the Israelites three times, but the words that come forth are a wonderful surprise, which can inspire us all.

Wonder Women

Jul 8, 2019 15:26

Description:

This week, in Parashat Chukat, we learn about the death of one of Judaism’s greatest ancestors: Miriam. Rabbi Rick Jacobs and his guest, Dr. Tsvia Walden, discuss how the strength, importance, and wisdom of women have been woven throughout our history, and how, like water, they are a necessary and valuable element of life.

Rebel With (or Without) a Cause

Jul 1, 2019 13:09

Description:

As we learn this week, sometimes our past rituals don’t match our present values. Join Rabbi Rick Jacobs as he discusses Parashat Korach, and what it means to challenge a decision for the sake of the ego... versus what it means to challenge for the sake of a greater purpose.

Challenge Accepted

Jun 24, 2019 12:42

Description:

What’s your holy mission? In Parashah Sh'lach L'cha, we learn about the 12 scouts, or emissaries, sent by Moses to learn about the land of Canaan. Join Rabbi Rick Jacobs as he discusses the importance of representatives within Judaism and their obligations, and how each of us can be emissaries of kindness, respect, and justice.

Breaking Barriers and Saving Lives

Jun 17, 2019 17:11

Description:

In this week’s Parashah, B'haalot'cha, Miriam and Aaron speak against Moses - leading to Miriam's affliction of leprosy. When Moses sees his sister’s illness he exclaims “Oh God, please heal her!" Rabbi Rick Jacobs and his guest, Dr. Raphael Walden, explore what it means to both spiritually and literally heal the world, regardless of the boundaries that lie before us. And as Dr. Walden’s story proves, sometimes building bridges, saving lives, and creating connections can happen even in the most unlikely times and places.

Suspicious Minds: The “Errant” Woman

Jun 10, 2019 13:39

Description:

What happens when the Me Too Movement meets Parashat Naso? This week’s complicated Torah portion about unfair trials and jealous men is a reminder that we must call out inequitable practices and right past wrongs – even (and especially) our own. Rabbi Rick Jacobs invokes Elizabeth Cady Stanton, as he reminds us that repairing that which is not whole or just isn’t always easy, but it is always right.

But, Who's Counting?

Jun 3, 2019 13:55

Description:

In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat B'midbar, we're commanded to take a census of the “whole Israelite community.” Rabbi Rick Jacobs reflects on a new study from the Jews of Color Field Building Initiative, on what it means to include the “whole” community, including women and Jews of Color, and why it’s so important to be thoughtful about how we’re counting.

Making Our Community Better for Everyone

May 27, 2019 13:08

Description:

This week, we close out the book of Leviticus with Parashat B’chukotai, and learn about the rewards of following the commandments. Hear Rabbi Rick Jacobs’s take on why it’s important to not just live a virtuous life for ourselves, but also to help make our communities more ethical.

With Liberty & Economic Justice for All

May 20, 2019 11:26

Description:

In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat B’har, we learn commandments around economic and environmental justice. In a time where income inequality is growing, Rabbi Rick Jacobs explains how Jewish tradition can inform our response to this modern-day issue.

What is Blasphemy?

May 13, 2019 12:30

Description:

This week's Torah portion, Parashat Emor, deals with the crime of blasphemy, which was punished by stoning. Rabbi Rick Jacobs tackles what this prohibition actually means: a Chilul HaShem - a desecration of God's name. To combat it, we must devote ourselves to kiddush HaShem - a sanctification and uplifting of God's name through acts of compassion and justice.

To Live a Wholly Holy Jewish Life

May 6, 2019 11:38

Description:

In this week's Torah portion Parashah K'doshim, Rabbi Rick Jacobs tackles what it means to live a truly Jewish life. In a Parashah filled with rituals, what do we learn about living a spiritual life? We cannot only focus on personal ethics, ritual, or justice - Rabbi Jacobs shares why all are needed to imbue our lives with holiness. 

Understanding Human Connection

Apr 29, 2019 11:49

Description:

This week's Parashah, Acharei Mot, contains a verse prohibiting homosexual acts. How does the Reform movement understand this verse? Rabbi Rick Jacobs reminds us that taking any Biblical verse too literally robs us of our diversity and strength, and causes immense pain to those excluded and forced to live in the margins. Reform Judaism, like society at large, has evolved on this and other issues and become far more inclusive over time, making us all stronger.

Passover II: Song of Songs

Apr 22, 2019 12:01

Description:

On Passover, it's traditional to read from Song of Songs, with themes of love and spring running throughout. This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs reminds us that the themes in this megillah (scroll) match the themes of Passover - of beauty, renewal, and rebirth are key to the season, but also remind us of the love that runs throughout our entire lives.

Passover: Our Obligations When in Power and When Powerless

Apr 15, 2019 20:03

Description:

This week is Passover and Rabbi Rick Jacobs, with special guest Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, discuss the Torah portion read on Passover, focusing especially on the themes of power and powerlessness. What are we obligated to do when we are in a position of powerlessness? And on the flip side, what are we obligated to do in an unjust system when we aren't those who are oppressed? What are our obligations when we are free? How do we build a liberated society?

Shabbat HaGadol: Spiritual Cleansing

Apr 8, 2019 12:00

Description:

This week is Shabbat HaGadol, the Shabbat right before Passover. Rabbi Rick Jacobs notes this is the time when many of us are getting ready for Passover and cleaning out our chametz - leaven goods. But cleaning is about more than just getting rid of leftover bread. It's about getting spiritually ready, and cleansing ourselves of our own unnecessary habits or baggage.

Healing the Spirit

Apr 1, 2019 13:29

Description:

In this week's Torah portion, Parashat Tazria, we learn about tza'ra'at, or leprosy. The weekly Mi Shebeirach prayer asks for healing, and we view prayer and visiting as part of the healing process. But is healing the same thing as a physical cure? Rabbi Rick Jacobs discusses healing as an ongoing, spiritual process, complete with connections to the community and to God.

The Dangers and the Neccessity of Innovation

Mar 25, 2019 10:36

Description:

In this week's Torah portion, Parashat Sh'mini, we learn about the sudden deaths of Nadav and Avihu, two sons of Aaron the High Priest. Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch wrote that their sin was innovation. But innovation is also a key part of Jewish life and renewal over the centuries. Rabbi Jacobs encourages us to think about how we can continue to reboot and rekindle Jewish life.

Courageous Choices

Mar 18, 2019 11:11

Description:

This week's Torah portion, Parashat Tzav, is read around Purim, a story of mythic (and even improbable) proportions that remains enduringly relevant to Jewish Diaspora life and anti-Jewish persecution throughout the centuries. Rabbi Rick Jacobs talks about how sometimes, just like Esther, we are called upon to make risky, dangerous, and courageous choices.

The Laws of Leviticus, Choice, and AJ Jacobs, the Gratitude Expert

Mar 11, 2019 19:18

Description:

This parashat introduces many laws and rituals that might seem irrelevant to our modern lives, but what do these laws teach us? How do we bring them into our lives? A.J. Jacobs, acclaimed author of The Year of Living Biblically and Thanks a Thousand: A Gratitude Journey joins Rabbi Rick Jacobs to discuss the roles of laws, rituals, and gratitude in our lives.

Spirituality and Art

Mar 4, 2019 14:08

Description:

Art exists beyond the binary of rational and irrational. Art has the ability to reshape our perspectives on our world - which is precisely why great artists have designed synagogues, museums, and other sacred spaces - including... the mishkan, the Israelite's portable ark

How Do We Build Our Communities?

Feb 25, 2019 10:41

Description:

Constructing the Miskhan brings us to ask - how can we build our communities? What do we need besides a synagogue space in order to engender a communal environment? Even something as simple as seating makes all the difference.

Stand Up and Be Counted.

Feb 18, 2019 10:25

Description:

Stand up and be counted. In this parashah, a census is taken. To be counted, you must give half a shekel.  From this, we learn that while all must contribute to the community, each and every one of us is also individually important, both alone and as a member of the Jewish people.  Rabbi Jacobs focuses on this message, specifically discussing the  importance of the diversity of the Jewish community.

Does our Clothing Show our Identity?

Feb 11, 2019 10:52

Description:

Parashat T'tzaveh goes into the elaborate sacred garments worn by kohanim, the priestly class. Ritual and sacred garb in faith communities - Jewish as well as other faiths - can be a source of identity and inspiration, as well as a link to our shared past. But sometimes, the rules and restrictions of religious garb can clash with expectations and experiences in modern life. Rabbi Rick Jacobs asks us to consider: what is it we wear that expresses who we are? Read transcript.

Building a Sacred Space

Feb 4, 2019 11:58

Description:

Parashat T'rumah describes building a mishkan, a sacred space, and the first central praying place in Jewish life. People were asked to give both their skills and their material possessions to build it, and together they created something both beautiful and portable. Rabbi Rick Jacobs asks us to consider: how do we learn how to build our own sacred spaces? What makes a space sacred? How do we balance the tensions between a modest, spiritual space and humbling grandeur? How do we define the heart of a community? How do we define what's real? Read transcript.

When Judaism Calls Us to Speak Out Courageously

Jan 28, 2019 12:50

Description:

Parashat Mishpatim presents a full catalog of laws, rituals, observance, and obligations that guide us in living a Jewish life of moral depth and courage. But, Rabbi Rick Jacobs asks, how do we, as liberal Jews regard these laws – which of them are we obligated to observe, and how? And how do we apply these teachings to urgent issues we face in today’s world?

Breaking Down Labels

Jan 21, 2019 11:40

Description:

This week’s Torah portion, Parashat Yitro, is named for the Midianite Priest, Jethro, and depicts his first encounter with Moses in the desert. The two forge a relationship despite their different faiths and ethnicities, and Moses ends up marrying his daughter, Tziporah. Rabbi Rick Jacobs recounts theirs as well as other interreligious relationships that are depicted in Jewish texts, and he asks us, what can we do to break down ethnic (and other) labels, and build even deeper connections.

Remembering Debbie Friedman z”l on Shabbat Shira

Jan 14, 2019 11:53

Description:

This week’s Torah portion, Parashat B’shalach, is read on Shabbat Shira, the Shabbat of Song. Music is highlighted on this particular Shabbat: In this portion, the prophetess Miriam leads the other women in playing their timbrels, and the accompanying Haftarah reading features the Song of Deborah. Rabbi Rick Jacobs discusses these texts and remembers Debbie Friedman z”l, the legendary Jewish songwriter, as her yahrzeit approaches. He shares his personal memories of Debbie, paying tribute to her profound gifts and their lasting effect on the Jewish world.

What is Lost in Translation

Jan 7, 2019 12:54

Description:

In Parashat Bo, we learn about the last three of the plagues that are visited upon the Pharaoh of Egypt. Rabbi Rick Jacobs focuses on the plague of darkness, and examines how the translations of the ancient Hebrew by Robert Alter allow us to glean new meanings from this portion.

What Do We Really Think About God?

Dec 31, 2018 14:14

Description:

In the opening lines of this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Va-eira of the Book of Exodus, Moses meets God for the first time. Rabbi Rick Jacobs points out the specific name God uses, and discusses the many different ways God is named and described throughout the Torah and other texts, and what hints they give us to understand the elusive nature of God.

What’s in a Name?

Dec 24, 2018 13:34

Description:

The first portion of the Book of Exodus, Parashat Sh’mot, introduces the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob. Citing other Jewish texts as well as examples throughout Jewish history that highlight the significance and pride associated with names, Rabbi Rick Jacobs considers why some people keep their Jewish names, and others change them.

8 Lessons for Today’s World in the Book of Genesis

Dec 17, 2018 11:50

Description:

Parashat Vay’chi is the last portion in the book of Genesis, so Rabbi Rick Jacobs takes this opportunity to discuss some of the larger themes from this first book of the Torah that resonate with us today: the defining story of “audacious hospitality”; the challenges of engaging the next generation in Jewish life; the opportunities to encounter holiness that can happen at any moment in our lives; the inherently Jewish value of social justice; our deep connection to the land of Israel; and much more.

Jewish/Catholic Relations: On Reconnecting

Dec 10, 2018 13:13

Description:

In Parashat Vayigash, Joseph, now a high-ranking Egyptian leader, finally reunites with the brothers who sold him into slavery. The moment where Joseph reveals himself has been a dramatic analog in the history of Jewish/Catholic relations. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs describes some major events in the history of Jewish/Catholic relations, and his own relationship with the Catholic Church. 

Where is God Today?

Dec 3, 2018 10:39

Description:

Parashat Mikeitz is the second parashah in the Joseph cycle, which is remarkable for many reasons—one of which being it’s biggest missing character: God. God is almost absent from Joseph’s story, at least in predictable ways, which might be why it agrees well with today’s Jewish experience. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs discusses different forms of religiosity, and how identifying as religious might not be so different from identifying as secular or cultural.  

Losing and Finding Connection.

Nov 26, 2018 11:11

Description:

In Parashat Vayeishev, Joseph is asked by his father to go check on the “shalom”—the peace, or wholeness—of his brothers. Those familiar with Joseph’s story know that he had differences with his brothers even though they had the familial connection. We’re all part of something larger—the world, an age cohort, maybe the Jewish community—and at times, we have major differences with those in our communities. Should we always look for commonalities? Rabbi Jacobs gives his take in the episode of On the Other Hand.

Knowing When to Wrestle and When to Hug

Nov 19, 2018 12:58

Description:

In Parashat Vayishlach, Jacob has a transformative night encounter where he wrestles somebody—but who? Is it a guardian angel, an actual adversary, his conscience, or something else? Rabbi Jacobs talks through his theory, and what we can learn from wrestling—and from hugging—in this episode of On the Other Hand.

Hate Will Not Define Us

Nov 12, 2018 13:25

Description:

In Parashat Vayeitzei, Jacob leaves Beersheba and sets out on a journey full of potential  danger and panic. Reading this parashah only a few weeks after the Pittsburgh synagogue shootings, it especially resonates this year. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs discusses what the Jewish community can learn from Jacob’s journey in our own time.

The Value in both Jacob and Esau

Nov 5, 2018 12:54

Description:

Parashat Tol’dot tells the story of Esau and Jacob—two archetypes. Most people have a little bit of Esau and Jacob in them, even though Esau hasn’t historically been an honored typology in Jewish life. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs walks us through some prominent Jewish figures who have a little Jacob and Esau in them, and why Esau deserves a little more love.

Creating a Strong Jewish Future

Oct 29, 2018 11:57

Description:

In Parashat Chayei Sarah, Eliezer sets off on a journey to find a wife for Isaac. Of course, because Isaac is part of the first Jewish family, Eliezer knows that the wife he finds for Isaac might not be Jewish—and that isn’t in conflict with a strong Jewish future. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs discusses why the Reform Movement is committed to inclusion and acceptance.

How to Have Moral Courage

Oct 22, 2018 19:31

Description:

In Parashat Vayeira, Abraham defines Jewish leadership by challenging the powers that be. To discuss this important Parashah, and what it means to be a Jewish leader in the fight for justice, Rabbi Jacobs is joined by Ruth Messinger, the global ambassador for the American Jewish World Service and social justice advocate with JTS and the Marlene Meyerson JCC in Manhattan. 

How to Be Generous

Oct 15, 2018 11:29

Description:

In Parashat Lech L’cha, Abraham shows what it means to be a Jewish leader of depth, courage, and generosity. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs shares lessons that he’s learned from Abraham’s generosity, and tells a story of modern-day generosity that embodies Abraham’s behavior.

The Difference Between Truth and Fact

Oct 8, 2018 11:17

Description:

An hour and a half outside Lousville, Kentucky is a sort-of biblical Disneyland that features a replica of Noah’s ark. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs discusses Parashat Noach, why he has chosen not to visit, and why there is truth in Torah even if it’s not literally true.

#MeToo and Torah

Oct 1, 2018 12:54

Description:

Parashat B’reishit includes the story of Adam and Eve. It’s a problematic story—one that can define women as subservient, with negative qualities. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs discusses the parts of the Torah that don’t teach the best lessons about gender equality, and where we should look instead.

Reconnecting With the Earth.

Sep 24, 2018 09:51

Description:

This week we celebrate Sukkot, the holiday where we take a break from the intensity of the High Holidays and put our hands into the Earth. In thinking about Sukkot, Rabbi Jacobs remembers A.D. Gordon, a pioneer of modern Israel and Judaism who reinvented what it means to be deeply committed to Jewish tradition and ideals.

Poetry as Torah

Sep 17, 2018 12:03

Description:

Parashat Haazinu is known as the Song of Moses—it’s beautiful, and many see it as poetry. Jewish liturgy is filled with poetry, because, as Rabbi Jacobs suggests, it’s one of the best ways to talk about God. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs discusses different poems that help us probe deeper into Judaism, and why they do.

A Person’s Impact

Sep 10, 2018 11:38

Description:

Parashat Vayeilech comes toward the end of the Book of Deuteronomy, and Moses is facing the end of his life. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs looks at the lives of two great leaders who have recently passed away: Senator John McCain and Rabbi Rachel Cowan.  

Why Organ Donation is Jewish.

Sep 3, 2018 11:18

Description:

Parashat Nitzavim features the phrase “choose life,” but what does it mean to choose life? One way of choosing life is by becoming an organ donor. Rabbi Jacobs discusses why this lifesaving choice is part of his Jewish values in this episode of On the Other Hand.  

Why Mental Health Matters.

Aug 27, 2018 10:24

Description:

Mental illness affects many members of the Jewish community, and there are small things that everyone can do to make those affected by mental illness feel more whole and welcome. Rabbi Jacobs discusses mental illness in and out of the Jewish community, the words we use, and how it all relates to Parashat Ki Tavo, in this episode of On the Other Hand

Can War Ever Be Ethical?

Aug 20, 2018 11:45

Description:

Parashat Ki Teitzei includes a set of teachings about conducting war. But how can these teachings be applied today, when the state of the world and the way war is conducted have changed so drastically? Rabbi Rick Jacobs explores this question in this episode of On the Other Hand.

Pursuing Justice From the Torah

Aug 13, 2018 31:55

Description:

This week, for Parashat Shof’tim, Rabbi Jacobs is joined by Dahlia Lithwick, who hosts the podcast Amicus and writes about the courts and the law for Slate. They discuss Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, what the justice system looks like today in the U.S. and Israel, and what the American justice system might look like in the future.

How We Can End Poverty

Aug 6, 2018 12:51

Description:

Parashat R’eih includes two important statements about poverty. The first, “there shall be no needy among you,” addresses the core Jewish value that we should live in a society where everybody has the means they need to live. The second phrase, “there will never cease to be needy ones in your land,” acknowledges that no matter what, poverty will never be completely eradicated. How do these two ideas serve each other? Rabbi Rick Jacobs gives his take in this episode of On the Other Hand.

Reward and Punishment

Jul 30, 2018 12:12

Description:

Parashat Eikev contains the second paragraph of the Sh'ma, which is no longer read in many Reform communities. Rabbi Jacobs explains why in this episode of On the Other Hand, and explores the question: Do good things happen to people because of their obedience to sacred teachings? 

The Future of Judaism

Jul 23, 2018 19:16

Description:

In Parashat Va-et'chanan, Moses prepares Joshua to take on leadership of the Jewish people. So, it’s fitting that this week, Rabbi Jacobs is joined by Rabbi Matt Green, the assistant rabbi at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, New York and director of Brooklyn Jews. They discuss new ways to engage young Jews, the importance of Judaism to young people, and why we shouldn’t be worried about the future of Judaism.

Why Tragedies Happen and How to Respond

Jul 16, 2018 11:17

Description:

Parashat D’varim is the first portion of the Book of Deuteronomy, and this year it is read just before Tishah B’Av – a day that, throughout Jewish history, has been one of tragedy and destruction. What does it mean that so many horrible events have taken place on this one particular day? Rabbi Rick Jacobs explores this question in this week’s episode of On the Other Hand.

Cities of Refuge

Jul 9, 2018 16:51

Description:

The double parashah of Matot-Mas’ei introduces the concept of cities of refuge. Today, as American lawmakers are using the bible as justification for the mistreatment of people who are seeking refuge, there is a lot to learn from Parashiyot Matot-Mas’ei. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs discusses what the Torah can teach us about welcome refugees.

Defeating Extremism With Acts of Courage

Jul 2, 2018 15:05

Description:

Parashat Pinchas is an intense parashah, one with  an act of religious extremism—and just because it’s in the Torah, doesn’t mean it should be taken at face value. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs discusses what we can learn from a Torah portion that goes in a different direction than what we believe today.

The Beauty of Humility

Jun 25, 2018 12:57

Description:

Parashat Balak’s accompanying Haftorah portion features the famous verse: “God has told you what is good and what the Eternal requires of you only to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” For many, if you wanted to distill Jewish tradition into one verse, this would be it. Specifically, what does this passage mean for Jewish people today? Rabbi Jacobs explains in this episode of On the Other Hand. 

Remembering Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D, z"l

Jun 18, 2018 13:15

Description:

Parashat Chukat, we learn of the passing of two of the most inspired biblical teachers: Miriam and Aaron. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs honors the life of Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D., z”l, who, like the biblical Aaron, was a remarkable leader. Rabbi Jacobs reflects on a few of the texts that speak to who Rabbi Panken was, and what made him such a great leader. 

What Makes a Leader?

Jun 11, 2018 12:04

Description:

Korach, Moses’s cousin, proves to be a certain kind of leader: one who cares more about himself than the people he is leading. What can we learn from Parashat Korach today? Rabbi Jacobs gives his take in this episode of On the Other Hand: 10 Minutes of Torah.

Optimism and Hope

Jun 4, 2018 12:33

Description:

Parashat Sh’lach L’cha, the Jewish people are wandering the desert and doubting that they’ll ever make it to the promised land. So, they send 12 spies ahead to scout the land and report back. The spies come back with different takes—10 aren’t so sure the land will provide a comfortable home, but two return with excitement. Is their positive outlook a result of optimism or hope? Rabbi Jacobs gives his take on the difference between optimism and hope in this episode of On the Other Hand.

Don’t Kvetch

May 28, 2018 09:01

Description:

In Chapter 11 of Parashat B’haalot’cha, the Israelites are wandering through the desert, and they’re kvetching. They’re not happy about the cuisine, the amount of water, and everything they need to schlep. Even though most of us today aren’t tasked with wandering through the desert, we still find things to kvetch about. But what if, when we want to kvetch, we instead focus on building up our community? Rabbi Jacobs explores this question in this week’s episode of On the Other Hand.  

Lifting Our Heads, One Year After Charlottesville, A Conversation with Charlottesville Rabbis

May 21, 2018 18:29

Description:

This week, Rabbi Jacobs is joined by Rabbi Tom Gutherz and Rabbi Rachel Schmelkin of Congregation Beth Israel in Charlottesville, VA. They discuss Parashat Naso, their experience at Shabbat services during the white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, the current state of Charlottesville, and what it means to fight for social justice with an interfaith community.

A Look at the Numbers

May 14, 2018 11:49

Description:

Parashat B’midbar is the first parashah in the Book of Numbers, and it’s called the Book of Numbers because it opens with a census. In this episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs uses the occasion to think about contemporary numbers, including a few particular surveys that the Reform Movement has been part of, that give a new and exciting window into Jewish life.

The Torah’s Take on Respecting the Earth

May 7, 2018 11:43

Description:

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.

Unnamed Women

Apr 30, 2018 13:49

Description:

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.

Ethics in the Marketplace

Apr 23, 2018 10:13

Description:

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.

We Need to Talk About Anti-Semitism

Apr 16, 2018 11:54

Description:

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.

Never Again for Anyone

Apr 9, 2018 10:43

Description:

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.

Mindful Jewish Eating

Apr 2, 2018 21:40

Description:

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.  

Making Passover Personal

Mar 26, 2018 16:02

Description:

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.

Following Their Lead

Mar 19, 2018 11:46

Description:

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.

What’s the Point?

Mar 12, 2018 10:43

Description:

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.

Creating The Power of a Space with Michael Arad

Mar 5, 2018 17:33

Description:

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.

Just Rest

Feb 26, 2018 12:18

Description:

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.

What to Wear

Feb 19, 2018 10:09

Description:

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.

The Right Ways to Give

Feb 12, 2018 12:27

Description:

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.  

Always Be Present

Feb 5, 2018 09:38

Description:

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.

Courageous Leadership

Jan 29, 2018 17:20

Description:

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.

When it's the Time to Act, and When it's the Time to Pray

Jan 22, 2018 10:30

Description:

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.

Fighting for Freedom

Jan 15, 2018 10:37

Description:

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.

Modern Day Moses

Jan 8, 2018 14:06

Description:

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.

Putting Faith into Action

Jan 1, 2018 12:05

Description:

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?

What Lives on of Us When We Die?

Dec 25, 2017 11:53

Description:

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?

A Modern-Day Joseph

Dec 18, 2017 09:53

Description:

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?  

The Menorah in the Window

Dec 11, 2017 12:16

Description:

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?

Learning from Joseph

Dec 4, 2017 09:25

Description:

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.

Dinah’s #MeToo Story

Nov 27, 2017 09:54

Description:

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?  

Jacob the Refugee

Nov 20, 2017 10:20

Description:

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.

Deciding Who You Are

Nov 13, 2017 08:45

Description:

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.

The Death of Sarah

Nov 6, 2017 10:27

Description:

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.

The Wife-Sister Motif

Oct 30, 2017 11:23

Description:

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.

Nothing Left Behind

Oct 23, 2017 11:35

Description:

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.  

Acts of God

Oct 16, 2017 12:23

Description:

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

There’s Something About Seven

Oct 9, 2017 12:16

Description:

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.

Do You Always Reap What You Sow?

Oct 2, 2017 13:22

Description:

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.

Repentance and Forgiveness

Sep 25, 2017 12:19

Description:

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.

Should We Question Authority?

Sep 18, 2017 12:10

Description:

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.

It is Not in the Heavens

Sep 11, 2017 09:47

Description:

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.

Not If, But When

Sep 4, 2017 11:01

Description:

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.

How Not to Hate

Aug 28, 2017 10:37

Description:

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.

What Makes a Good Judge

Aug 21, 2017 11:09

Description:

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.

Eating with Compassion

Aug 14, 2017 13:43

Description:

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 Seat at the Table

Aug 7, 2017 12:53

Description:

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.

Why We Should Bring Politics to the Pulpit

Jul 31, 2017 11:24

Description:

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.

For All of the Jewish People

Jul 24, 2017 10:21

Description:

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.

Why Journey?

Jul 17, 2017 11:16

Description:

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.

Challenging The Rules

Jul 10, 2017 08:45

Description:

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.

Songs of the Soul

Jul 3, 2017 17:12

Description:

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.  

When to Ask Why

Jun 26, 2017 10:16

Description:

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.

Sacred Disagreement

Jun 19, 2017 10:35

Description:

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.

Judaism on the Fringes

Jun 12, 2017 10:35

Description:

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.

Is the Torah Colorblind?

Jun 5, 2017 17:50

Description:

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.

What is a Blessing

May 29, 2017 09:40

Description:

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.

Do Numbers Matter?

May 22, 2017 11:24

Description:

Do you know which countries have the largest population of Jewish people? What about how many Jews serve in the United States Congress? As we begin the Book of Numbers with Parashat B’midbar, Rabbi Jacobs talks us through the numbers of the Jewish people today, as Parashat B’midbar does with the Israelites wandering the desert after the Exodus. Listen to this episode of On the Other Hand to learn what Rabbi Jacobs thinks about these numbers, and whether they matter.

What the Torah Says About Being Green

May 15, 2017 10:08

Description:

For anyone who doubts that Judaism includes social and environmental justice, this week’s commentary on the double portion of B’har-B’chukotai sings forth that we have a fundamental responsibility to care for God’s Earth, and to be attentive to the neediest among us. How does this section of the Torah ask that we do that? Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, tells us how in this episode of On the Other Hand.

Gratitude, Obligation, and Responsibility, A Jewish Year with Abigail Pogrebin

May 8, 2017 17:00

Description:

Parashat Emor lays out the sacred calendar of the Jewish people as we know it in the Torah, and there’s no one better to discuss this parashah with Rabbi Jacobs than Abigail Pogrebin, author of the book “My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew.” Pogrebin tells us about her year of studying, preparing for, and observing all 18 holidays on the Hebrew calendar, and what she learned about gratitude, obligation, and responsibility.

The Torah’s Take on Love

May 1, 2017 10:39

Description:

  It’s another two-parashah week, and this time we’re reading about love. The phrase “love the stranger” appears in the Torah 36 times. Why is this phrase written so often, and who is the stranger? Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, gives his take in this episode of On the Other Hand.  

What We Get Wrong About the Dreaded Parashiyot

Apr 24, 2017 10:44

Description:

Parashiyot Tazria and M’tzora are perhaps the most nerve inducing parashiyot in many Jewish circles, and it makes sense—most people aren’t typically eager to discuss leprosy. But if we know that illness can often be seen as a metaphor in Jewish tradition as punishment for sin, what is this case of leprosy actually about? Listen to Rabbi Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, explain why he thinks Parashiyot Tazria and M’tzora should transcend the dread.

Kashrut Explained (Or, Why I Can’t Eat A Camel)

Apr 14, 2017 09:53

Description:

In Parashat Sh’mini, while we learn the laws that distinguish which animals are and are not kosher, we do not learn the rationale behind kashrut. Because of this, there is a lot of misinformation spread around why certain animals are deemed unsuitable to eat. Does kashrut exist because of cleanliness, practicality, or something else? Listen to this episode of On the Other Hand: Ten Minutes of Torah, to find out.  

Why is This Passover Different from Other Passovers?

Apr 10, 2017 12:32

Description:

In this special Passover episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs discusses empathy. The story of Passover asks that we put ourselves in the shoes of those who escaped slavery and travelled to freedom, and that we think about what it’s like to have nothing. But this year, it isn’t enough to discuss this type of tragedy as a thing of the past. Find out why Rabbi Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, thinks that this seder should be different from other sedarim in this week’s episode of On the Other Hand.

How to Be a Leader

Apr 3, 2017 10:37

Description:

Parashat Tzav opens with a command to Aaron, the high priest. It’s a moment to think about leadership – who are our leaders and what do they do? Are our leaders born into the role, like Aaron, or are they called to leadership, like Moses? Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses what it means to be a leader, and who among us should take a leadership role (spoiler alert: it’s all of us!)

When Torah Meets Theater

Mar 27, 2017 16:35

Description:

Parashat Vayikra is filled with drama. It can be gory and, at times, inexplicable. To help us understand exactly what unfolds in this active and high-stakes parashah, Rabbi Jacobs is joined by award winning playwright Michele Lowe. They discuss the dramatic aspects of Parashat Vayikra and how we can make Torah come alive.

What Makes a Space Sacred?

Mar 20, 2017 17:59

Description:

In Parashat Vayak’heil-P’kudei, the Israelites build the tabernacle in the middle of the desert, and because it is built from their heart, with their hands, the presence of God comes to dwell in that space. These days most of us don’t personally build our sacred spaces, so how do we make these spaces sacred? In this week’s episode of On The Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs is joined by sacred space planner Father Dick Vosko. They discuss the past, present, and future of the places where we pray.

Are You My Idol?

Mar 13, 2017 11:45

Description:

If you think about idolatry in the Torah, you might think about Parashat Ki Tisa, where in their restlessness, the Israelites built a golden calf. Many of us view idolatry as far from our contemporary Jewish sensibility, but is the sin of idol worship still alive in today’s Jewish world? Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, explores the difference between reverence and idolatry in this week’s episode of On the Other Hand.

Protecting Our Planet and Other Sacred Places

Mar 6, 2017 11:35

Description:

In the opening of parashat T’tzaveh, the eternal light reminds us that as we construct our places of worship, we must honor our role as stewards of the earth, and offer a hospitality that allows all of us to participate with dignity. What makes our prayer spaces sacred? Rabbi Rick Jacobs suggests that being in the right relationship with the world around us is the starting foundation.

What Does “Generosity” Really Mean?

Feb 27, 2017 11:10

Description:

Parashat T’rumah presumes that we can ask people to donate and they will freely, lovingly, and generously give of themselves.  What is the nature of generosity? Why are some people natural givers, while others are takers? Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism,raises questions about philanthropy and ideas about giving not just money, but of ourselves, and whether we can teach that behavior to others.

An Eye for an Eye

Feb 20, 2017 09:42

Description:

There’s a notable phrase in Parashat Mishpatim: “An eye for an eye.” Taken literally, this sentence makes it seem like valuing revenge as a substitute for justice is Jewish tradition. We know that’s not true, so what does “an eye for an eye” mean? Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism discuss what fairness means according to Jewish law.

Looking Beyond Our Differences

Feb 13, 2017 09:01

Description:

In Parashat Yitro, Moses gains wisdom and insight from his father-in-law, Jethro. What Moses gains from Jethro changes the course of his leadership, and in turn, has an extraordinary effect on the Jewish people. But there's one important detail about Jethro that's important to mention: he's not Jewish. In this week's episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, talks to Evan Traylor, the URJ's first ever Presidential Fellow for Millennial Engagement. They discuss what it's like to grow up in an interfaith family, and why anyone who wants to be part of a community should be audaciously welcomed.

Life's Shortcuts and the Benefits of a 40 Year Journey

Feb 5, 2017 10:51

Description:

Did you know that instead of wandering in the desert for 40 years, the Israelites could have used a shortcut that would get them to their destination in only two weeks? But the decision to wander was an intentional one that lead to a deliberate, challenging, and critical journey. Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discuss Parashat B’shalach, and the journey of the Jewish people from Egypt to Canaan.

Finding the Truth in our Stories

Jan 30, 2017 10:51

Description:

This week’s parashah, Bo, tells the story of the ten plagues that convinced Pharaoh to “let my people go.” It’s an important story, but it often makes people wonder whether God really sent these ten plagues to Egypt. Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, describe that it may not matter whether or not these ten plagues really happened, because there is truth to the story regardless.

What Made Moses Great

Jan 20, 2017 09:59

Description:

Moses isn’t charismatic. He doesn’t see himself as a great leader—he’s modest, humble, and he doesn’t speak clearly. But God insists that he lead despite this, because God sees an even more important quality in him: his ability to care for others. When Moses sees mistreatment, he has to intervene, no matter what the consequence might be. Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discuss how Moses embodies the bedrock of our Jewish tradition in Parashat Va-eira, the Torah portion read on January 28, 2017.

The Amazing Women of Exodus

Jan 16, 2017 09:03

Description:

This week we start a new book of the Torah, Sh’mot, or Exodus. The book opens with, “These are the names of the children of Israel,” but it’s misleading. We don’t actually go on to read the names of the children of Israel; we go on to only read the names of the boys. Sh’mot is a stunning moment where we are reminded that sexism dates back to biblical times. In this week’s On the Other Hand, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, takes the opportunity to remind us of the amazing women of Exodus, without whom there wouldn’t even be a Jewish people today.

What Lives After Death

Jan 9, 2017 09:21

Description:

Va-y’chi, the title of the last parashah of the book of Genesis, translates to “and he lived.” It’s an odd title for a parashah that details the death of Jacob and Joseph. But the thing about Jacob, Joseph, and many righteous people, is that their values and legacies continue to live on after they die. In this week’s On the Other Hand, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, tells us about those legacies, and more.

Putting the Judah in Judaism

Jan 2, 2017 08:03

Description:

Do you ever wonder why Judaism is called Judaism? This week’s parashah, Vayigash, has an answer. This is the moment when Joseph and his brothers, including Judah, dramatically reconnect, and Judah demonstrates a deep caring for his people. Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, make the case for why we can all look to Judah for an important lesson in how we can come together, despite differences, in times of need. 

Fighting Darkness with Light

Dec 26, 2016 08:23

Description:

Even though the miracle of the oil  wasn’t an original part of the Hanukkah story, it has become one of the most enduring narratives in modern Judaism. Even when things seem dark, during Hanukkah we provide a growing light that goes out into the world, overcoming darkness and giving us direction. In this week’s episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses the story of Hanukkah, and why it’s fitting that it falls during this week of Parashat Mikeitz.    

Making an Impact

Dec 19, 2016 10:11

Description:

Parashat Vayeishev is the first of four parashiyot that outline the story of Joseph. Perhaps more interesting than Joseph in this story, however, is the unnamed character who points Joseph in the direction that ends up defining the story of the Jewish people. Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, question what it means to really be in somebody’s life, and the kind of impact that we all can have without even realizing it.

Healing a Negative Relationship

Dec 12, 2016 09:11

Description:

Have you ever dreaded seeing a friend or family member that you don’t get along with, only to end up having a positive experience? After twenty years away from home, Jacob dreads his reunion with Esau, but our text teaches the two end up embracing and healing their tumultuous relationship. What can we learn from the story of Jacob and Esau? Find out from Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, on this week’s On the Other Hand.

Our Spiritual Ascents

Dec 5, 2016 09:26

Description:

Rabbi Israel Salanter wrote that it’s easier to learn the entire Talmud than to change one character trait in ourselves. Even Jacob, when he dreams of the ladder that connects heaven and Earth, is still on his path of growth and awakening. Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discuss how we can see ourselves in Jacob, and how we, like him, can become our best selves.

Who Will Carry Our Tradition Forward?

Nov 28, 2016 08:05

Description:

Many of us know the story of Jacob and Esau, the brothers who could not be more different from one another. But what do these brothers have to teach us about reimagining our Jewish present and a new Jewish future?  in this week’s On the Other Hand, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, puts the story into a new perspective as he teaches about Parashat Tol'dot.

Seeing Blessings Every Day

Nov 21, 2016 08:17

Description:

Translated, Chayei Sarah means “the life of Sarah.” It’s an odd title for a parashah that opens with Sarah’s death, but even though this parashah doesn’t detail Sarah’s life, it does teach us about the kind of life she lived. Rashi tells us that in Sarah’s 127 years of living, all of her years were equally good. We know that Sarah lived with immense heartbreak, but she still saw the blessings in all of her days. Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discuss what it means for all of our years to be equally good.

Where is God?

Nov 14, 2016 09:03

Description:

Parashat Vayeira starts with a cliffhanger. We’re told that God appeared before Abraham, but that’s it—we never find out where God appears or what God says. Instead, we get three desert wanderers, who have important news for Abraham. So, where is God in this story? Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses where God may have been, and where God could be now.

How to be a Hero

Nov 7, 2016 08:47

Description:

Parashat Lech L’cha tells us the story of the very beginning of Jewish history, when God says to Abraham and Sarah that they are to “go forth” and begin the story of Jewish commitment. We learn a lot about the first Jews from this parashah, but perhaps one of the most important lessons is about what it means to be a hero. Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discuss the part of the story that is too often skipped over, and what we have to learn from it.

Electing a Righteous Leader

Oct 31, 2016 10:05

Description:

Almost everybody knows the story of Noach. God tells Noach that there is going to be a flood that will destroy all living things, and it’s up to Noach to build an ark in order to save his family and repopulate the Earth. But how many of us have looked deeper into the story, and noticed those details that may not jump out at first look? Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses those details that often get left out of the story, and even tells us how those details relate to our current US election.

Creationism vs Science: Which is the Truth?

Oct 23, 2016 08:23

Description:

This week we enter the beginning of a brand new cycle of Torah reading with a parashah that has become controversial in today’s political climate: B’reishit (in the beginning). The creation of the world is described beautifully and poetically in the Torah, but in our world where we’re always trying to figure out what’s true and what’s false, people seem to get stuck on this first portion of Genesis. Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, describe his interpretation of B’reishit, and the difference between factual and moral truth.

Sukkot and the Fragility of Life

Oct 16, 2016 08:13

Description:

Five days after Yom Kippur, we turn our gaze out to the world around us and take notice of the harvest season. Sukkot is a holiday that teaches us to appreciate what we have, while reminding us that life is fragile. Just like a sukkah, everything is fleeting, and everything is temporary. Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discuss how Sukkot reminds us to have empathy for those who are in need, and to enjoy life.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Oct 10, 2016 10:35

Description:

Parashat Haazinu includes the word tzur, or rock, eight times. But in this case, tzur isn’t referring to just any rock; it’s referring to God, as the rock of Israel. Sometimes, a rock can have a positive connotation, like our friends that are always there for us. But other times, it can signify something that’s cold, unfeeling, and unbending. What can be understood about these conflicting implications of a rock when we’re talking about God and the High Holidays? Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses Parashat Haazinu, and tzur yisrael, God as the rock of Israel.

The Sacred Art of Letting Go

Oct 2, 2016 08:01

Description:

Parashat Vayeilech is read between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a time of transition for all of us. We've brought in the new year with hopes, prayers, and the shofar, and we look toward Yom Kippur, where we are tasked with letting go of the last year and moving forward. Letting go and coming to terms with change can be difficult. What does the Torah teach us about how to move on? Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discuss Parashat Vayeilech and the sacred art of letting go. 

Standing for What Matters Most

Sep 26, 2016 08:19

Description:

At the beginning of Parashat Nitzavim, we hear the phrase, "Today you are all standing." This phrase isn't referring to people simply standing, it means that the Jewish people stood together and entered into a Covenant, affirming the things that matter most. But, what are the things that matter most today? Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discuss Parashat Nitzavim, and what it means to continue the Covenant.  See also: The Reform Movement's call to action: Nitzavim: Standing Up for Voter Protection and Participation 

Spiritual Centering

Sep 19, 2016 08:50

Description:

Hasket, which translates to silence or stillness, is a word that appears in the Torah only once, during this week's Parasha,  Ki Tavo. With the High Holidays coming up, setting aside time for silence or stillness can be difficult, but it can offer a unique form of spiritual centering. Still, while silence can be positively powerful this close to the High Holidays, silence can also be dangerous. Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discuss the power of silence and stillness, and how we know when they are appropriate.

The Morality of War

Sep 12, 2016 09:00

Description:

Ki Teitzei translates to “when you go out,” but it doesn’t mean going out to dinner or the movies. The full phrase, Ki teitzei l’milchamah, translates to “when you go out to war.” The Torah recognizes that there is an inevitability to war, and because of that, there must be certain moral boundaries and ethical requirements in the ways that we fight. This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, examines Parashat Ki Teitzei and what it means to fight a war with strength and humility. View the transcript of this podcast >

Demanding Justice

Sep 5, 2016 09:36

Description:

At the core of being Jewish is a fundamental demand for justice. Demanding justice involves asking others to work toward a more just world, but it also involves asking ourselves to do that work. In Parashat Shof’tim, we are introduced to the three-word phrase that has inspired bookshelves of scholarship and controversy: “tzedek, tzedek, tirdof.” In English, the phrase translates to “justice, justice, you shall pursue.” Why would this simple, short phrase incite such controversy? Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discuss the controversy, the significance of the repetition of the word tzedek, and more.  Read the transcript of this podcast >

Fighting Poverty

Aug 29, 2016 09:45

Description:

In life, we are often tasked with a blessing and a curse. In Parashat R’eih, we are reminded to always look at the blessings and the curses in front of us. Chapter four of Parashat R’eih, commands us, “there shall be no needy among you,” only a few verses before it tells us, “and there will never cease to be poor ones in your land.” Being deeply responsible for eradicating poverty is a fundamental commitment of our Jewish tradition, but how can one fully eradicate poverty? Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discuss what it means to accept responsibility for the hungry and poor in our midst. View the transcript of this podcast >

Entitlement vs Gratitude

Aug 22, 2016 09:08

Description:

It’s natural for people who have much more than what they need to spend time thinking about the things that they do not have, rather than being thankful.  In many of our lives, there is an extremely prominent divide between those who have more than they need, and those who struggle. In Parashat Eikev, Rabbi Rick Jacobs highlights the divide between what we are entitled to and what we take for granted each day.  How do we give spiritual meaning to what we do have rather than focusing on what we could have had?

What is the Essence of Judaism?

Aug 15, 2016 09:09

Description:

Ten is an important number in Jewish tradition, and in this parashah we read the second telling of the Ten Commandments. Though many consider the essence of Judaism to be the Ten Commandments, they aren’t necessarily the most important of the 613 commandments. More important than being able to recite the Ten Commandments from memory is embodying the essence of those commandments and practicing them.  God tells Moses, “Go up on the high place and raise your gaze, look out,”  challenging him to look up from his everyday tasks and see beyond the present moment to the future. We can all be inspired by that challenge, and look towards a future where each of us can distill Judaism into its essence, perhaps the way Micah taught: “Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discuss Parashat Va-et’chanan.  View the transcript of this podcast >

Leaving the Comfort Zone

Aug 8, 2016 07:46

Description:

Parashat D’varim, the opening portion of Deuteronomy, encourages us as individuals, congregations, and communities to avoid getting stuck in one way of thinking. Though there is comfort in the familiar, sticking to the status quo inhibits innovation. Remember that, without  innovation and risk-taking in our Reform Movement, there would be no URJ camps or women rabbis. This week, we are encouraged to appreciate how far we’ve come, and all we’ve done in our given spaces, but to also take a step forward into the future. Listen to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discuss Parashat D'varim. View the transcript of this podcast >

Life is a Journey, Not a Destination

Aug 1, 2016 08:22

Description:

You have probably heard the saying that life is a journey and not a destination, but what exactly does that mean?  Wherever we go in life, we are constantly meeting new people, experiencing new things, and exploring new places.  Even if something seems like a destination, like landing a new job or moving, people constantly learn and grow from the experiences that they have in any given place.  Parashat Matot Ma-sei reminds us to journey forth, journey far, and journey deeply through life, and that the masa (journey), and not the destination, is home.  Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses the importance of changing environments and making new connections to achieve clarity in life.

Religious Extremism

Jul 25, 2016 07:34

Description:

In this week’s Torah portion, we read the story of Pinchas who kills an Israelite out of zealous belief. There are many who equate “people of faith” with zealotry, doing anything to ensure the continuation of a religion or peoplehood. But how can we turn that definition around to the idea that  "people of faith" are good, kind, caring people who tend to their community? We should not let religion be hijacked by zealots – not in the bible, and not today. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, examines Parashat Pinchas. View the transcript of this podcast >

How Does a Curse Become a Blessing?

Jul 18, 2016 06:25

Description:

Parashat Balak teaches us to draw strength and inspiration from everyone around us. We read the story of how the Moabite King Balak tried, and failed, to destroy the Jewish people with the help of his sorcerer Balaam. How does a curse become a blessing? This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs highlights how we can welcome all types of people into the family of Judaism, whether they were born into it or not.

Thirsting for Wisdom

Jul 11, 2016 07:26

Description:

In Judaism, mayim, or water, is not only crucial to sustaining life, but it is also a symbol of wisdom and Torah. Parashat Chukat addresses the thirst that the Jews have while wandering the desert after Miriam the prophet dies, which also represents the yearning for the wisdom and nourishment that Miriam provided. The Jewish people are thirsty and eager to drink from the well of tradition. Rabbi Rick Jacobs discusses Parashat Chukat, the Torah portion read on 7/16/16.

Questionable Intentions

Jul 4, 2016 07:23

Description:

In Jewish history and culture, there has been no shortage of arguments; in fact, the entire Talmud is composed of arguments about some of the most important issues in history. In Parashat Korach, Korach is clearly upset and challenges authority – but why does he do this?  Is he a rebel with a cause, or is he acting out with no clear intention?  This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses the importance of intent behind leadership and fighting for a cause.

Facing the Future

Jun 27, 2016 06:49

Description:

When faced with anxiety about the future, how can one persevere as a strong leader? How have we pushed people to the edges of our Jewish communities, and how do we gather them back? Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, explores Parashat Sh'lach L'cha.

Gossip

Jun 20, 2016 08:43

Description:

Even with good intentions, when we talk about people who are not present, we run the risk of disparaging them, without giving them the opportunity to respond.  Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses one of the themes of Parashat B'haalot'cha: how the words we use affect ourselves and others. View the transcript of this podcast >

What Makes Life Meaningful?

Jun 13, 2016 07:39

Description:

Do we do things because they bring us meaning, or do things have meaning because we do them?  Can your morning yoga class or walk through the park serve as a source of spiritual inspiration? Our personal choices, such as exercising,  wearing jewelry with Jewish symbols and writings, or leading creative pursuits, can lead to a more meaningful life full of significant journeys and spiritual commitment.  This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses the Torah portion Naso (read on 6/18/16), and teaches about the Nazarite oath. View the transcript of this podcast >

Uniting as one, despite our differences

Jun 6, 2016 08:10

Description:

A remarkable new demographic says that Jews of color make up 10-20% of the Jewish population. When we look around our congregations, it may be hard to believe that statistic. There are many who are not counted because we’re not doing a good job of opening our arms wide.  Like our ancestors, we focus on our own modern day tribes: The tribes of the Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, and secular. Amidst our real differences, can we sew ourselves together into a larger identity of being Am Yisrael – one people?  Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses these themes in this week's Torah portion, Parashat B'midbar.

Do we believe that good behavior brings rewards, and bad behavior brings punishment?

May 30, 2016 07:07

Description:

Does being a person of faith mean you believe in blessings and curses? Why should we always "do the right thing?" Are we rewarded or punished for what we do in the world? Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, discusses the messages in this week's Torah portion, Parashat B'chukotai. View the transcript of this podcast >

B'har - Torah Portion Read on 5/28/16

May 23, 2016 07:03

Description:

This week Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President for the Union for Reform Judaism, teaches about parshat B'har wondering what would social justice to the extreme look like and did the Torah know to teach it thousands of years ago? View the transcript of this podcast >

Emor - Torah Portion Read on 5/21/16

May 16, 2016 07:29

Description:

This week Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, speaks about parashat Emor and asks: how do you enact justice in modern times to make the world more balanced? And how do you elevate the receiver -- not your own self, the giver? View the transcript of this podcast >

K'doshim - Torah Portion Read on 5/14/16

May 9, 2016 07:21

Description:

This week in parshat K'doshim, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President for the Union for Reform Judaism, wonders who is your neighbor? Can you love them even if they are not like you? If -- and when -- you do, can it change your life and even someone else’s? View the transcript of this podcast >

Acharei Mot II - Torah Portion Read on 5/7/16

May 2, 2016 07:37

Description:

Passover may have just ended, but it’s not too early to talk about Yom Kippur and second chances. This week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs talks about making mistakes and the sometimes-negative consequences of innovation.

Special Edition: The Jewish Calendar

Apr 24, 2016 07:49

Description:

In this week's special edition of On The Other Hand: Ten Minutes of Torah, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, talks about the Jewish calendar, including how we mark time and how we find meaning.  

Special Edition: Pesach

Apr 18, 2016 08:57

Description:

Passover means matzah, and this week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, talks about how, love it or hate it, eating the “bread of affliction” might actually teach us about empathy. He also pushes us to think about how having tough conversations at our Passover seder might be a new kind of liberation. View the transcript of this podcast >

Shabbat HaGadol - Read the Shabbat before Passover

Apr 11, 2016 08:33

Description:

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, wonders if asking questions during a Passover seder is a religious mandate, or if it is actually demanded of us, and whether eating kosher for Passover bagels is really in the spirit of the holiday.   View the transcript of this podcast >

Tazria - Torah Portion Read on 4/9/16

Apr 4, 2016 07:20

Description:

This week Rabbi Rick Jacobs teaches us from Parashat Tazria in the book of Leviticus, asking where we start when we need healing. 

Sh'mini - Torah Portion Read on 4/2/16

Mar 28, 2016 07:11

Description:

Is there a spiritual or moral dimension to how we choose what we eat? Parashat Sh'mini from the book of Leviticus opens up a conversation about keeping kosher – Rabbi Rick Jacobs moves it along. View transcript of this podcast >

Tzav - Torah Portion Read on 3/26/16

Mar 21, 2016 06:00

Description:

What are we actually obligated to do? What is imposed and what do we choose? Rabbi Rick Jacobs explores Parashat Tzav. View the transcript of this podcast >

Vayikra - Torah Portion Read on 3/19/16

Mar 14, 2016 06:31

Description:

How can we be religious innovators, keeping the essence of tradition, but remembering how far we can go? Learn about these themes in Vayikra with Rabbi Rick Jacobs

P'kudei - Torah Portion Read on 3/12/16

Mar 7, 2016 06:52

Description:

What is the difference between individual spiritual experiences and collective experiences? Is one more powerful than the other? And, if so, what does that mean? Rabbi Rick Jacobs teaches how Parashat P'kudei highlights what can happen when communities become holy. View the transcript of this podcast >

Parashat Vayak'heil – Torah Portion Read on 3/05/16

Feb 29, 2016 06:54

Description:

Do you really think you can find a community without working toward building it too?  Rabbi Jacobs challenges us through the ideas of this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Vayak’heil.   View the transcript of this podcast >

Ki Tisa, Torah Portion Read on 2/27/16

Feb 22, 2016 05:59

Description:

What is at the center of your life and how do you keep your focus on what matters most? Parashat Ki Tisa offers insights into this timeless question, Rabbi Rick Jacobs helps us find those answers.

T'tzaveh, Torah Portion Read on 2/20/16

Feb 15, 2016 06:14

Description:

What is the real importance of what we wear? Rabbi Rick Jacobs explores the themes of Parashat T’tzaveh, this week’s Torah portion. View the transcript of this podcast >

T'rumah, Torah Portion Read on 2/13/16

Feb 9, 2016 06:45

Description:

How do you build a world of justice, wholeness, goodness and kindness? Rabbi Jacobs offers some ideas from Parashat T'rumah. View the transcript of this podcast >

Mishpatim, Torah Portion Read on 2/6/16

Feb 9, 2016 06:55

Description:

Reaching the high bar of moral, ethical life goes far beyond simply obeying the Ten Commandments. Explore this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Mishpatim, with Rabbi Jacobs. View the transcript of this podcast >  

Yitro, Torah Portion Read on 1/30/16

Feb 9, 2016 07:21

Description:

Who gives you the advice you need to hear, not just what you want to hear?  Rabbi Rick Jacobs teaches poignant lessons of humility through Parashat Yitro.