Thursday, December 2, 2010

Torah threads

Thanks to the podcast Forgotten Classics where the book of Genesis is being read in the translation by Robert Alter, I was directed to a new podcast: Torah Threads. On a weekly basis, Rabbi Paula Jayne Winnig delivers a podcast which discusses the coming week's parasha (Torah Portion) going over the entire text of the verses, in English, and giving some interpretation and food for thought. (feed)

As you can guess from Paula (a woman) being a Rabbi, she comes from a reformed background. A little bit more from her outlook on Judaism can be felt when one listens to the ninth podcast in the series, the one about parashat Vayetzei. She tells of her commitment to ecology, of her spiritual visits to Israel and pleas her support for another Jewish woman who was arrested at the Western Wall for carrying a Torah Scroll. She reveals she was herself once harassed at the Wall for wearing a tallit - Torah Scrolls and talliot are according to Orthodox views to be worn by men only.

So this where Rabbi Paula comes from, but even you do not identify with feminism, ecology and Reformed Judaism, she is still very instructive. First of all, she tends to give the entire portion, so on a basic level you get what the story is. This can be quite a lot and it explains why some other podcasts on the parashot make selections from the text. From there Paula takes the elements from the text that appeal to her most and enters a discussion about meaning and background that varies in its extent. Sometimes it is very tentative and short and sometimes she digs deeper. All in all a very nice podcast to get to know the Torah portions and keep up with them in their proper weeks.
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