Weekly Torah Insights
The Oneg Shabbat Box includes a set of Conversation Cards designed to spark meaningful discussion at your dinner table. Each card poses a thoughtful question based on the weekly Torah reading.
Our Shabbat Boxes are shipping late summer! At that time, we invite you to revist this page each week to view a calendar of readings that will help you match up the right conversation card to each week's Torah portion.
In the meantime, please enjoy our general overviews of each book of the Torah.
Genesis is the first book of the Torah. It centers on the astounding story of creation, famously declaring, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth.” By the sixth day, humankind is created, and on the seventh, we are given the gift of Shabbat.
It’s the story of the birth of humanity. It’s the narrative of our ancestors. This book teaches us about love, life, commitment, greed, hatred, faith, hardship and responsibility — a 2,000- year-old narrative that offers wisdom on how to live a meaningful life.
The second book, Exodus, begins with the Jews enslaved in Egypt until Moses, a reluctant leader, steps up and demands, “Let my people go.” The pharaoh refuses, so God sends plagues upon the Egyptians. Moses then leads the Jews on a 40-year march to freedom through the desert to the Promised Land.
The story of Exodus, a fiery time, teaches us about transitions, freedom and the journey from repression to redemption.
The third book, Leviticus, is one of practices rather than belief. As the Jewish people are stranded in the desert, God gives them rules and laws covering every aspect of life, from food and love to theft and murder. The rules are instructive and invite us to experience the power in ritual.
Some rules may seem esoteric, some may raise profound questions, and many guide us how to live a life of meaning.
The fourth book, Numbers, begins with Moses being commanded to take a census of the Jewish community, reflecting the Jewish belief in individual worth and collective responsibility.
As the Israelites journey toward the land of their ancestors, they receive laws that help them create a calendar of holidays, celebrations, and days of memorial rooted to the land and its cycles, inspired by nature and agriculture and deeply connected to their history as a people.
The fifth and final book, Deuteronomy, details Moses’s farewell at the edge of the Promised Land. He recounts the long journey, reiterates the Ten Commandments and passes leadership to Joshua. Moses, the leader of Jews during the 40-year march to freedom, dies without entering the Promised Land.
This book has a famous and powerful statement of Jewish identity called The Shema: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” It is a statement of monotheism, faith and a cornerstone contribution of Judaism to the modern world.