Archive | Teachings

D’varim: Finding Your Voice

B’ever ha’Yarden b’eretz Moav ho’il Moshe be’er et hatorah hazot On the far side of the Jordan, in the land of Moab, Moses undertook to explain this Torah (Deuteronomy 1:5) The English name of the fifth and final book of the Five Books of Moses is “Deuteronomy”. Deuteronomy is a Greek term that means “repetition […]

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Matot-Mas’ei: The Inner Journey

Eileh mas’ei V’nei Yisrael asher yatz’u me’eretz Mitzrayim These are the journeys of the Children of Israel after leaving the Land of Egypt (B’Midbar 33:1) As we reach the end of the book of B’Midbar, the Children of Israel have arrived at the banks of the River Jordan. The Promised Land is just on the […]

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Balak: Mah Tovu – How Good It Is

Mah tovu ohalecha Ya’akov, mishkenotecha Yisrael How goodly are your tents, Jacob, your dwelling places, Israel (Numbers 24:5) The Israelites are journeying toward the Jordan River, and pass through the territory of King Balak of Moab. Balak is terrified, and hires the prophet Balaam to lay a curse upon the Israelites. Three times Balaam climbs […]

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Chukat: Confronting Mortality

Va’yavo’u B’nei Yisrael kol ha’edah Midbar Tzin bachodesh harishon vayeshev ha’am b’Kadesh. Vatamot sham Miriam vatikaver sham. V’lo haya mayim la’edah. And all the Children of Israel arrived at the Wilderness of Tzin on the first new moon, and stayed at Kadesh. Miriam died there and was buried there. And there was no water for […]

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Korach: Demagogue

Vayikhalu al Moshe v’Aharon vayomru aleihem: “Rav lachem, ki chol ha’edah kulam kedoshim u’v’tocham YHVH – u’madua titnas’u al k’hal YHVH?” And [Korach and his followers] gathered against Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! Is not the entire community holy, and is not YHVH in their midst? Why do […]

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Shlach Lecha: Healing the Crushed Spirit

Va’nehi b’eineinu kachagavim, v’chen hayinu b’eineihem We looked like grasshoppers to ourselves, so we certainly must have looked that way to them. (B’midbar 13:33) The Children of Israel are preparing to enter the Promised Land. Moses sends twelve scouts, one from each tribe, to scout out the land and bring back a reconnaissance report. Forty […]

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Beha’alotcha: Are We There Yet?

Va’yehi ha’am k’mit’onenim ra b’oznei YHVH. The people took to complaining bitterly before YHVH (B’midbar 11:1) After more than a year encamped at Mount Sinai, the time has come for the Children of Israel to march to the Promised Land. Transformed from a throng of refugee slaves, they are now organized into tribes and troops, […]

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B’Midbar: Everyone Counts

Se’u et rosh kol adat B’nei Yisrael… Take a head-count of the entire community of the Children of Israel… (B’midbar 1:2) Sefer B’Midbar, the fourth book of the Torah, begins and ends with a census count. This is why the book is known in English as the Book of Numbers. The Hebrew name, B’midbar, means […]

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B’chukotai: Fear Itself

V’radaf otam kol aleh nidaf…V’chashlu ish b’achiv mipnei cherev v’rodef ayin The mere sound of a wind-driven leaf will put them to flight…even though no one is pursuing them, they will stumble over one another as if fleeing the sword. (Leviticus 26:36-37) Last week’s portion, B’har, laid out the need for the earth to receive […]

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Behar: We Do Not Own the Earth

V’ha’aretz lo timacher l’tzmitut, ki li ha’aretz, ki gerim v’toshavim atem imadi The land cannot be sold in perpetuity, for the land belongs to Me, and you are but temporary residents on My earth. (Leviticus 25:23) Last week I argued for the importance of understanding the expansive evolution that Jewish law and practice has undergone […]

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