In his 2009 lecture on Leviticus 21, Dennis said: “There are more riveting chapters of the Torah. And there are less riveting ones.
“A dear friend of mine, one of his two sons, had a bar mitzvah. The portion of that Sabbath was not one of the more scintillating ones in the Torah. He asked me if I would speak on the Torah.
“It happens to be that while he is not Orthodox, his family is ultra-Orthodox. Black hat and beards. Very Orthodox. He’s the black sheep in the family for not being Orthodox. At least they came.
“I got up and said this is one of the less riveting portions of the Torah. And his relatives got up and left. I felt so bad for my friend. They were not prepared to hear that one might say that one portion is more riveting than the next.”
“The traditional rabbis of Judaism knew that some portions were riveting and some were not. The traditional Torah text is found in books surrounded by commentary (Rashi, Rashbam, Rambam, Ramban, Onkelos, all sorts of medieval commentaries). There is the text in the middle surrounded by commentary. There are pages of the Torah that have no commentary. They have nothing to say. It could be just a bunch of genealogies.”