Archive | Teachings

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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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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Emor: An Eye for an Eye?

V’ish ki yiten mum ba’amito, ka’asher asah ken ya’aseh lo: shever tachat shever, ayin tachat ayin, shen tachat shen. Ka’asher yiten mum ba’adam, ken yinaten bo.  A person who inflicts injury on his fellow, as he did so shall be done to him: a fracture for a fracture, an eye for an eye, a tooth […]

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Tazria-Metzora: Body as Temple

Va’yedaber YHVH el Moshe leimor: zot tih’yeh torat ha’metzora b’yom tohorato. YHVH said to Moses: “This is the Torah (instruction) for a person with the skin affliction Metzora so that they may be restored to wholeness. (Leviticus 14:1) This week (and the next) we read a double portion of Torah. The extra reading is a […]

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Shmini: What Happened to Nadav and Avihu?

Va’yikchu v’nei Aharon, Nadav v’Avihu, ish machtato va’yitnu va’hen esh va’yasimu aleha ketoret va’yakrivu lifnei YHVH esh zarah asher lo tziva otam. Va’tetzei esh milifnei YHVH va’tochal otam va’yamutu lifnei YHVH. Now Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, each took his incense pan, put fire and incense in them, and brought near to the presence of […]

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Tzav: The Haftarah as Commentary and Critique

Va’yedaber YHVH el Moshe leimor: Tzav et Aharon v’et banav leimor: Zot torat ha’olah… And YHVH spoke to Moses, saying: Command Aaron and his sons thus: These are the instructions for the burnt offering… (Parashat Tzav, Leviticus 6:1-2) This is what YHVH Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go ahead, add your burnt offerings to […]

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Vayikra: Leviticus as Literature

Vayikra el Moshe va’yedaber YHVH eilav me’ohel moed YHVH called to Moses, and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting (Leviticus 1:1) For the modern reader, the Book of Leviticus appears to be an odd and even unwelcome intrusion into the grand saga of our ancestors. After the satisfying conclusion of the Book of […]

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Vayakhel-Pekudei: Realizing Our True Nature

Va’yomer Moshe el B’nei Yisrael: “Re’u, kara YHVH b’shem Betzalel, ben Uri, ben Hur, l’mateh Yehudah, va’yemaleh oto ru’ach Elohim b’chochmah bi’t’vunah u’v’da’at u’v’chol melacha.” And Moses said to the Children of Israel: “See, the Creator has singled out by name Betzalel, son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, endowing him […]

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Ki Tisa: Encountering God

V’atah, im na matzati chen b’einecha, hodi’eni na et d’rachecha, v’eida’acha [Moses said,] “And now, please, if I have found favor in your eyes, please let me know your ways, that I may know you…” (Exodus 33:13) Vayomer “Hareini na et k’vodecha!” And [Moses] said, “Please, let me behold Your Presence!” (Exodus 33:18) How does […]

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