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An Ode To Simchat Torah: Favorite Torah Portions

We read from the Torah every Shabbat, plus additional Jewish holidays. Soooo many portions! Usually, there’s one or two that stand out in our memory, whether it be due to a connection to the story told, a derived lesson that hits home, or an occasion paired with the portion that creates a significance.

There are tons of lessons to learn from the Torah and seemingly endless amounts of stories to engage us. Perhaps you are already thinking about your own favorite portion…perhaps you have not yet found the one that strikes a chord with you.

Take a moment to read through some favorites of PJTC’s community to see what parashah makes meaning for them…

Rabbi Aimee Gerace

Favorite Torah Portion: Nitzavim

Why? Luckily, we read it more than once a year! “It is not in heaven” is a phrase from Nitzavim that grabs me, because I really believe in personal responsibility and how we can attempt to act godly in the world. At another point, it is also about choosing life over death, so I also relate this portion with positivity: the more you are able to feel gratitude, the more you show it to others, and the more you do it the more elevated you are…and the more elevated you are, the more God-like you become. “It is not in heaven” – but it can be like heaven on Earth through our own actions.

Rabbi John Carrier

Favorite Torah Portion: Mishpatim

Why? This parashah contains my favorite verse: “Don’t oppress the stranger as you were once a stranger.” The ethics and fairness portrayed by this verse are powerful.

Favorite Torah Portion: Balak (Rabbi’s are allowed to have more than one favorite)

Why? My dad was a minister as a first career, and I remember him giving a sermon with a story of a donkey who talks to Balaam – the message: truth coming from non-truth. In rabbinical school, my first year teacher said they were going to have congregants give the dvar Torah, and the teacher serendipitously suggested to me "how about telling the story of Balak?" I of course, said “ok.” Then, as an intern in Venice beach, my parents were visiting, and I gave a Torah portion of Balak in front of my dad.

Theresa Brekan

Favorite Torah Portion: Noach

Why? It is miraculous the way that God takes care of us as a people and we will never destroy the earth again.

Melissa Levy

Favorite Torah Portion: Beshallach, read on Shabbat Shirah

Why? It actually has nothing to do with the Torah portion. It reminds me of Zavaha Sweet (a holocaust survivor). Zahava and I were close, and the way she read Torah on Shabbat Shirah was with such joy and pride. This portion also contains the first song that appears in the Torah, “The Song of the Sea,” sung following the miraculous splitting and crossing of the Red Sea. It was beautiful, and I loved hearing it.

Emily Fischer

Favorite Torah Portion: Vayishlach

Why? My favorite and unfavorite potions are in the same Torah portion. It has particular meaning to me because it was my portion for my Bat Mitzvah.

Rhonda Young

Favorite Torah Portion: Mishpatim

Why? ‘Then [Moses] took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do and hear [na’aseh ve-nishma] everything the Lord has said.”’ (Ex. 24:7)

When I was young, I dreamed that I was in the crowd at Mt. Sinai. There was loud thunder, wind blowing sand that it seemed I could actually feel on my skin, and a sense of awe. I made a promise to God that I would do and hear all that He said. The memory of the dream is so vivid that it has stayed with me all my life. It is why I will never NOT believe in the God of Israel.

I have loved the Lord my God with all my heart since I was very young. It has always been very important to me to do whatever He has commanded.

Claire Gorfinkel

Favorite Torha Portion: Vayishlach

Why?  I connect strongly with the sentence: "God was in this place and I did not know."

Cantor Ruth Berman Harris

Favorite Torah Portion:  Kedoshim

Why? Torah is a recipe to bring holidays and values into my life, and this portion is about how Judaism is special – with us acting in an elevated spiritual way - the lessons of Torah are read and you can use it as a toold for being holy in everyday life. 

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Wed, October 20 2021 14 Cheshvan 5782