Posted on November 5th, 2018

Genesis 25:19−28:9 

By Rabbi Stephen S. Pearce, Ph.D. for

Genuine Forgiveness Despite a Grave Wrong

"When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter [yodei-a tzayid], a man of the outdoors, and Jacob was a homespun [tam] man, keeping to the tents" (Genesis 25:27). The Hebrew word tam, translated here as “homespun,” can also mean “gentle,” “mild-mannered,” or “blameless.”1 Whereas the Bible portrays Esau as "a skillful hunter," further reading of the text reveals that Jacob, the "homespun man," was the wilier of the two. Nevertheless, many prophetic, Rabbinic, and modern commentators view Esau pejoratively and Jacob, the man with serious character flaws, is portrayed affectionately.

Continue reading.

Chayei Sarah

Posted on October 29th, 2018

Genesis 23:1−25:18 

By Rabbi Stephen S. Pearce, Ph.D. for

Adding Life to Years

What is it that most people want to become but nobody wants to be? This paradox is no riddle, it is simply a reality of life. In our youth-oriented culture, almost everyone wants to reach old age but no one wants to be old. Consider the elixirs, tinctures, potions, stairmasters, elyptical trainers, and so many other nostrums and contraptions employed to aid in the search for the fountain of youth whereby we hope to forestall and even halt the inexorable march of time.

Continue reading.


Posted on October 22nd, 2018

Genesis 18:1–22:24 

By Rabbi Stephen S. Pearce, Ph.D. for

Judge a Society by Its Hospitality

To live in a period when public officials and private citizens demonize “the other” — immigrants, foreigners, strangers, women, individuals of different sexual orientation, and the poor — is to live in tragic times. Whereas welcoming the outsider is the biblical underpinnning of so many Genesis narratives, this sacred principle is not always preeminent because the Bible is a human book that not only promotes ideals, but also notes the failure to live up to them. Vayeira provides such a contrast between depravity and disregard for outsiders on one hand, and kindness, generosity, and hospitality to strangers on the other. 

Continue reading.

Lech L'cha

Posted on October 15th, 2018

Genesis 12:1−17:27 

By Rabbi Stephen S. Pearce, Ph.D. for

Searching Oneself on the Way Forward

After World War II, the birthrate for Shoah survivors of childbearing age living in displaced persons camps was one of the highest ever recorded anywhere. Although these parents had witnessed Nazi atrocities, they were so imbued with optimism and an unshakable faith in the future that they began families in record numbers even before they knew how or where they would live. 

Continue reading.


Posted on October 8th, 2018

Genesis 6:9−11:32 

By Rabbi Stephen S. Pearce, Ph.D. for

Finding Wholeheartedness in Your Life

In Parashat Noach, the designation of Noah as an, ish tzaddik tamim, a “blameless” or “wholehearted person in his age” (Genesis 6:9) provides an opportunity to focus on a biblical model for a behavioral ideal. Although Noah’s inner life does not match his behavior. Commentators frequently criticized his conduct, including a lack of compassion and incest.1 Nevertheless, the designation of Noah as wholehearted provides grist for understanding the biblical view of ideal behavior.

Continue reading.


Become a Member

Become a Member

Members of Beth Sholom enjoy a full range of social, cultural, spiritual and educational activities. Come join us!

Find Out More