Make Your Own Midrash for a Great Dvar Torah

Make Your Own Midrash for a Great D'var Torah 
from Reclaiming Bar/Bat Mitzvah as a Spiritual Rite of Passage by Rabbi Goldie Milgram 

Vayeitze - How Awesome is Now

It’s 4:54 on a wintery afternoon. I walk into my study, which has windows facing west. It’s been a typical day, some work, some errands. Nothing special. My attention is grabbed by spectacular colors outside the window.

"Alan!" I yell to my husband. "It’s the most amazing sunset. Grab your coat and let’s run outside before it changes."

It was the most amazing sunset- shocking bright pinks and subtle purples, in colors and shades I had never in my sixty-one years seen before. How is this possible?

Walking in Torah through Feminist Eyes - Part I

Note: The Torah portion known as Vayeitzei, includes Gen 31:19 contains a word the meaning of which scholars continue to puzzle over, "teraphaim." That is one of two mysteries we ponder in this piece. The other is that Torah reveals Jacob to have one daughter, Dina, yet Gen.14:15 speaks of Jacob's "sons and daughters."

What Is Ushpizin?

Inviting in the Ancestors on Sukkot
photo: Benjamin Fradin and Lena Obermann Fradin

Ushpizin is a way of inviting in of the souls of ancestors and other special figures into your sukkah.  Here is how ushpizin can be done:

1. Ask those present to think about who from the family or Jewish history that has gone on to the next level of existence, whom of these do you want to be in the sukkah with you? It’s nicest to say why you are inviting them...tell a story about them, or recall something they did that meant a lot to you, or everyone think of a question to ask the ancestor being invited in, for example, the Biblical Abraham and/or Sarah.

2. Then recite the Aramaic welcome: Tivu, tivu, ushpizin ee-lah-een, tivu, tivu, ushpizin kaddishin: (and announce): Come in, come in, honored and holy guests! (An MP3 sound file and songsheet for Rabbi Geelah Rayzel Raphael's "Tivu" song, done with the a capella group Miraj is attached.) The are seven traditional male and female ancestral guests to invite into your Sukkah (and tell their stories) from antiquity are:

Guidance from Other Dimensions of the God-Field: Ancestors, Angels and Guides

a sample chapter from Seeking & Soaring: Jewish Approaches to Spiriatual Direction

Chapter 10

Author’s Note: The people whose experiences I have reported have specifically given permission for me to use their names.