The Portion

The Portion

"The Portion" is a podcast where Aaron Roller, a curious Orthodox Jew, sits down with his brother-in-law, Rabbi Jonathan Bienenfeld, to discuss the portion of the Torah that is read each week by Jews around the world. The conversation is informal and friendly, but not afraid to delve into the wealth of Jewish wisdom and interpretation. Guests may join to offer their takes on the portion as well.... Show More

Episodes

March 10, 2020 26 min

In this episode, we are together again and talking about the Sin of the Golden Calf. Was is the id of the Jewish people run amok with their leader missing? Or was it a more high-minded decision that went off the rails? Join us for the discussion. 

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March 6, 2020 8 min

A quick solo show on the important of consistency. 

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February 26, 2020 25 min

This week's Torah portion reads like a complicated set of building specs, as G-d presents Moshe with the instructions for building the Tabernacle. We talk about what it means for the Israelites to engage in a construction project following the splitting of the sea and the revelation at Sinai.  

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February 20, 2020 22 min

In Mishpatim, the Torah seems to take a dramatic turn from narrative into a detailed discussion of Jewish law. How do we explain this change? And how should we think about the way that the word mishpatim is used in Genesis vs. the way it's used in this week's parsha? Join us for the discussion. 


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February 12, 2020 29 min

Something strange about the week's Torah portion, Yitro, is that the greatest divine revelation in human history is preceded by a seemingly unrelated story about Moshe delegating authority and setting up multi-tier courts. On this episode, Aaron wonders why he's so bad at delegating and Rabbi Bienenfeld delves into the details of what makes good leadership. Check it out. 

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On this week's show, we talk about the difficult path the Israelites had to travel to achieve mental freedom even after they achieved physical liberation. We talk about the contrast between manna and matzoh, changing habits, and the deep lessons of Shabbos. Also, here's a reference to last week's episode in the show notes: http://www.buzzsprout.com/217572/2614090-bo-free-flexible

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January 29, 2020 23 min

In this episode, we spoke about Pharoah's hardened heart. Has G-d removed Pharoah's free will, or has He strengthened it? We contrast Pharoah's inflexible commitment to a corrupt ideology with the more fleet footed approach of the Patriarchs. 

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January 20, 2020 27 min

In this week's episode, as the Torah portion introduces seven out of the ten plagues, we talk about the role of miracles and how direct divine intervention should impact our own perspectives. 

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January 15, 2020 24 min

In this week's episode, we start Sefer Shemot - the Book of Exodus - with the question of what makes Moshe Rabbeinu the greatest Jewish leader in history. 

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January 8, 2020 29 min

In this week's Torah portion, Vayechi, Yaakov Avinu, the third, and last, of the patriarchs, dies. On this week's episode, we talk about the lessons Yaakov teaches us at the end of his life. 

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December 31, 2019 32 min

In this episode, we look at how Jacob and his children prepare to descend to Egypt and what that has to teach us today about moving into and within the diaspora. 

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December 25, 2019 32 min

In this episode, we delve into the dispute between Yosef and his brothers to try and understand why it never occurred to them to even suspect that the Egyptian viceroy giving them so much trouble might be their brother. 

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December 18, 2019 21 min

In this week's episode, we try to make sense of Joseph and his violent journey from Yaakov's favorite child to the depths of a pit, and all his subsequent rises and falls. Along the way, we touch on a couple of points that make Joseph's journey all the more remarkable and draw out some lessons for our moment today.

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December 11, 2019 32 min

In this week's Torah portion, Yaakov wrestles with a mysterious man, whom tradition considers to the Esav's "angel." In this week's episode, we talk about what this wrestling match represents and how it prepared Yaakov for his encounter with the real Esav the next day. 

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December 4, 2019 28 min

In this week's discussion, we talk about Yaakov's trip to Padan-Aram to escape his brother and his decision to return back home. We look at the dream he has at the beginning of his journey and the vision he has at the end, and what that tells us about who he is, in contrast to the difficult people around him. 

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November 28, 2019 34 min

This episode, recorded on Thanksgiving with the turkey in the oven, discusses the question of how Jews give thanks to their host nations in exile, what that tells us about Thanksgiving, and how an antecedent is found in this week's Torah portion in the relationship between Yitzchak and Avimelech, the King of Grar. 


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Aaron visited Chicago and recorded this episode with Alan J. Sufrin and Miriam Brosseau, the hosts of the podcast "Throwing Sheyd." On "Throwing Sheyd," Alan and Miriam examine the wide range of Jewish texts that deal with Sheydim, or demons, to analyze them and ask what they can tell us about our lives. In this crossover episode, we looked at midrashim that tie the death of Sarah that takes place in this week's...

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November 13, 2019 27 min

Following in the same vein from last week's conversation about Abraham's trials, we discuss Abraham's final trial, the binding of Isaac. We look at the full, tragic irony of G-d's request that Abraham sacrifice the son whose very existence was so clearly an expression of the divine will, and we ask whether or not the binding of Isaac challenged Abraham's conception of who G-d is. Join us for the discussion. 

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November 7, 2019 37 min

In this week's episode, we talk about the idea in Jewish tradition that Abraham was tested ten times. Why? Why is being tested essential for Abraham's character? Does he pass all the tests? And what are we supposed to learn from that? Join us for the discussion.

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October 31, 2019 32 min

The Portion, Season 2 is on! Aaron and Rabbi Bienenfeld are back this week talking about Noah. This year, they're pretty much skipping the ark and the flood to talk about the vineyard that Noah plants after he gets off the flood. Why grapes? Why a vineyard? Why does Noah get drunk? And does the Torah's negative portrayal of drinking and drunkenness influence Jewish practice today?

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