Pardes Resources for Uncertain Times

Dear Pardes Community and Friends,

The rapid spread of COVID-19 and its impact on communities across the globe is a reminder of how travel and trade make our world incredibly interconnected. That degree of connection also underscores our ability to work together across differences to confront complex problems. We wanted to do our part in dispelling loneliness and isolation in the best way we know how — Torah study. We are proud to offer these inspiring and thoughtful online learning resources. Some of them relate to illness, hope, resilience, community and more. Others are teachings drawn from the weekly Parsha (Torah portion) or special readings for the next few Shabbatot (Sabbaths) leading up to Passover. Through our collective love of Torah, we hope these resources will help all of us remain connected to our heritage and to one another.

ברוך רופא החולים

Blessed is the One who heals those who are ill.

Rabbi Leon A. Morris


Judy Klitsner Resilience, Reversal and Renewal A pre-Rosh Hashana book event celebrating the new printing of Judy Klitsner’s award-wining book, Subversive Sequels in the Bible: How Biblical Stories Mine and Undermine Each other.
Levi Cooper The Plague of 1786 This article was published in the Jerusalem Post. Levi discusses the plague of 1786 that forced the Hassidic Jewish community of Tiberias into lockdown until Shavuot. 
Meesh Hammer-Kossoy Let My People Go: From Victim and Object to Subject Vaera 5779 – While chapters 7-9 of parshat Va’era tell a miraculous tale of Divine redemption, chapter 6 highlights the Children of Israel’s role in their own enslavement and redemption. In doing so, it forces us to reexamine the binary between strong and weak, wicked and good, subject and object, victim and perpetrator, and even between slavery and freedom.
Tisha BAv teaching In this live lecture for Tisha B’Av 2018, Rabbi Dr. Meesh Hammer-Kossoy talked on the topic of “That’s Alright, Dear. I’ll Sit in the Dark” Why Do We Do It? How Can We Change It? Tisha B’Av 2018 at Pardes was sponsored in loving memory of Ben Blutstein z”l by his family who miss him dearly.
Rachelle Sprecher-Fraenkel Guest Speaker at Pardes Rachelle has been called a modern-day Israeli equivalent of the biblical matriarch, “Rachel.” Her 16-year old son Naftali z”l was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in 2014 along with two of his friends. During the 18-day search for the boys, and at the funeral and beyond, Racheli became the inspirational and unifying role model for all of Israel on every part of the political and religious spectrum. Rachelle is the Dean of Students at Nishmat, and the director of Matan’s Hilkhata Institute (Advanced Halakha Program). She is also a Yoetzet Halacha and was in the first graduating class of Matan’s Advanced Talmud Institute.
Paul Anticoni

Rabbi Micha Odenheimer

Mandie Winston

Disaster Relief and Beyond In the immediate wake of a natural disaster – like a monsoon or an earthquake – the Jewish community often jumps into action, mobilizing resources and expertise to support relief efforts. But as many practitioners know, there are ongoing crises facing vulnerable communities that need addressing in the longer term. How can we build upon our community’s commitment to disaster response – to not only respond to emergencies but help prevent disasters by fostering resilience?
Yiscah Smith Restoring Unity to a Fragmented World: The Mysterious Healing Power of the Shema In this lecture that was recorded live at Pardes Jerusalem as part of the Summer Evening Lecture Series, Yiscah Smith speaks about Restoring Unity to a Fragmented World: The Mysterious Healing Power of the Shema.
Alex Israel Ego, Humility and the Distortion of Religion An ethical-literary reading of a rarely read but fascinating Haftara, Kings 2 Chapter 5, tells the tale of a Naaman, the leprous Aramean general, who is healed by Elisha and becomes a devoted monotheist. On the way, we learn a great deal about the true balances of ego, pride, and religion.
Meesh Hammer-Kossoy Selective Memory:

Choosing Productive Narratives

Why bring a sin offering after giving birth? The Gemara suggests that is all about forgetting. Parshat HaChodesh, on the other hand, is all about remembering. Yet these parshiyot usually fall together in leap years. Perhaps this points to the way Jewish tradition constructs healthy narratives.
Levi Cooper Mi Shebarach Is the service too long for a mi sheberach? In the seventeenth century, the fiery Rabbi Yaakov Emden condemned the additional prayer for the sick as an unnecessary addition to the service. Although he favored canceling the practice, he was unsuccessful in his quest.
Alden Solovy
Liturgist in Residence
Hebrew prayer for Coronavirus This was inspired by the prayer “Healing from Coronavirus”.
Traveler’s Prayer in a Time of Pandemic This is a new prayer for safe travel, incorporating the perils of modern life with classic language of t’filat haderech, the traveler’s prayer.
Healing from Coronavirus A prayer for those who’ve contracted or have been exposed to the coronavirus, including those who might contract the disease in the future.
Coronavirus: A Prayer for Medical Scientists This is a prayer is for the wisdom and skills of medical scientists, researchers and public health officials around the world fighting the novel coronavirus.
Levi Cooper *Coronavirus Special* Laws of Government: Megillah Live! In the shadow of the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Levi issued halakhic guidelines for his community in Zur Hadassa. The guidelines are available in Hebrew. Those instructions included the possibility of listening to the megillah reading via live telecast! In this podcast, Levi compares his guidelines to those issued by the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi David Lau. Sports fans you will understand the Maggid of Melbourne on this one!
Levi Cooper *Coronavirus Special* Laws of Government: Halakha and the Health Ministry With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading and governments imposing various restrictions, Levi examines the question of whether it is a halakhic obligation to follow Government guidelines? The Maggid of Melbourne adds poignant words about the meaning of community in times like this.
Interactive Parsha Experiences
Staying Positive/Seeing the Positive

Vayera – Feeling our Laughter

Just as Avraham began this parsha with his eyes downward – needing to look upwards and outwards to be able to spread goodness to others and see the guests he wanted to welcome – Sarah too goes through a similar journey. At first she begins with an inner doubting laughter, but later spreads the laughter outwards, sharing it with others joyfully.”

VaYetze – Looking with “Fresh Eyes”!

In Parshat VaYetze, Yaakov begins his journey out of Eretz Yisrael, leaving behind his family in Beer Sheva. He leaves with nothing more than his walking stick!

Little does Yaakov know, but his ‘visit’ to Lavan will be much longer than he thought. By the time Yaakov leaves Lavan’s house (20 year later) he will have 13 children, 2 wives, 2 handmaids, cattle and sheep! A lot more than a walking stick!

B’Shalach – Selective Memory

This week’s parsha begins with Bnei Yisrael making a harrowing escape from Egypt only to find themselves trapped by a raging sea in front of them and an angry Egyptian army charging behind them. The people are understandably terrified and they turn to Moshe and exclaim, “What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt… it is better to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness!” (Exodus 14:11-12).

VaYakhel 5779: Time for ‘Timeout’

At the beginning of our parsha, Moshe gathers all the Jews together and tells them about Shabbat – that for six days one can do work, but that the seventh day is Holy, so no work can be done on it. After a quick intro about Shabbat, the rest of the parsha goes into detail about the construction of the Tabernacle (Mishkan).


When Bad Things Happen

Va’Era, Do Humans Have Free Will?

In parshat VaEra God continues to speak to Moshe through the burning thornbush. God tells him the plan for how Moshe will go with Aharon to Pharaoh to ask for Bnei Yisrael to be freed. Moshe is still feeling a bit insecure about his ability to stand up to Pharaoh and be a leader to Bnei Yisrael. Moshe doesn’t have a choice in following God’s orders, even when he insists he is not fit for the job. Or does he? The issue of free will is raised greatly in this parsha.

5779 Shemini: Aharon’s Silence

This podcast gives an educator’s perspective into the ideas and activities found in the weekly Interactive Parsha Experience. Whether used as a supplement or by itself it will stimulate your inner educator-self to bring the parsha into the lives of others. This week Aviva Lauer Golbert delves into parshat Shemini, Aharon’s Silence, giving you the tools and know-how to engage others in Torah learning.


Family Dynamics at Difficult Times / Improving Family Dynamics

Bereishit – The Blame Game, What a Shame!

One of the first things that the first humans do is make mistakes, which means getting things wrong is a part of who we are. No human being has lived and not made some sort of mistake. It may be hard to admit – but we (and you) are not perfect. In fact everyone around this table has and will make mistakes. When Adam and Chava made a mistake, what did they do? Instead of admitting it they played the blame game, which could be worse than making the mistake in the first place! Perhaps the issue is how we handle the mistakes we, and others, make, rather than making them at all.

VaYeshev, A Family Feud

At the beginning of Parshat Vayeshev, we learn about siblings that do NOT get along with each other. This is a very shocking story about family relationships and the power of jealousy. What makes jealousy such a strong emotion that it can cause brothers to sell one of their own siblings into slavery and break their father’s heart with an awful lie about the “death” of his son?!

Mishpatim – Building a Society

The parsha opens with this long list of mitzvot on a variety of different topics ranging from how to deal with damaged property to holiday observance. We then see that Moshe tells all these new laws to Bnei Yisrael and they reply: “All the words that God has spoken, we will do.

Terumah – Giving from Our Hearts

At the end of last week’s parsha, Moshe went up to the heavens to learn from God for 40 days and nights. So at the beginning of this week’s parsha, Parshat Terumah, while Moshe and God are together, God instructs Moshe to collect donations – gifts – from Bnei Yisrael so that they can build a mishkan – a tabernacle. The mishkan will be a very special place where the kohanim, the priests from the tribe of Levi, will connect to God, on behalf of all of the people, by offering different kinds of sacrifices.

Ki Tisa 5779: Are Good Intentions Good Enough?

There is a lot going on in this week’s parsha… the biggest news, of course, is that while Moshe is up on Mt. Sinai getting the luhot (tablets), Bnei Yisrael are down below feeling anxious about the length of Moshe’s absence.


Creepy Crawlies

Bo, The Eighth Plague – Cute Grasshoppers Fill the Land?

As this week’s parsha, Bo begins, God decides to step it up with the plagues against Egypt, and sends an even worse plague than the previous ones: a plague of locusts. Not to be mistaken with grasshoppers, these locust swarm and destroy.

The following are videos from the Pardes Virtual Yom Iyun entitled, Light and Redemption in Uncertain Times that took place on Sunday, March 22, 2020.  Source sheets can be found here.

Dr. David I. Bernstein Living with Uncertainty
Yiscah Smith The Pillar of Fire: Providing Light and Clarity in Moments of Darkness and Suffering
Rabbi Dr. Daniel Reifman Doors and Closed Spaces – Exodus: The Prequel