Making a Difference

The haftarah reading for this week’s parshah is about four lepers who were rejected from the Israelite city that they lived in. During this biblical time, there was a war between a nearby Aramean army camp and the city. The city was under siege and was running out of food. The four lepers were also… Read More

Kosher Laws Connect the Generations

This Shabbat, we read Parshat Shemini. In this parshah, Moses speaks to Aaron and the Israelite people, saying, “These are the animals that you may eat.” The Torah indicates the specifications for land animals, fish, birds and swarming things. In addition to the subject of kashrut discussed in this parshah, I find the topic of… Read More

A Diet of Holiness

The second half of Parshat Shemini begins with a discussion of the offerings that Aaron and his remaining two sons are to eat — including the goat for a sin-offering. When Moses hears that the goat already has been burned on the altar rather than eaten by Aaron and his sons within the holy space… Read More

Imagine That!

There was a time when I would only go out of my way to listen to speakers who were older and more experienced than I. Recently, however, I have changed my preferences and have begun to seek out speakers, rabbis and teachers who are young and relatively inexperienced. I find their ideas fresh and often… Read More

The Exodus Mind

There is one line in the Haggadah that captures the entire essence of what the Seder and Pesach are all about: “B’chol dor vador chayav adam lir’ot et atzmo k’ilu hu yatzah mimitzrayim” — in every generation we are obligated to see ourselves as though we personally came out of Egypt. It’s a very powerful… Read More

Unlikely Holiness: Pancakes, Trash and the Priest’s Big Toe

This week’s portion continues the outline of the korbanot, the “sacrifices” begun last week in Parshat Vayikra. Its title, Tzav, is an imperative meaning “command,” and while the previous portion was addressed to the person bringing the offering, this week’s parshah is addressed to the priest assisting with the offering. The priest is God’s agent… Read More

The Victorious Victim

I always experience a sense of excitement when I begin a new book. I am convinced that most avid readers feel the same way. This Shabbat gives us an opportunity to experience that excitement as we begin a new book, the Book of Leviticus, with Parshat Vayikra. Leviticus has historically had mixed reviews. On the… Read More

Sanctifying Time and Space, Shabbat and the Building of the Mishkan

At the beginning of Parshat Vayakhel, Moses convokes the entire community and reiterates the commandment on Shabbat observance: “These are the things that the Eternal has commanded you to do. On six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you have a Sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Eternal; whoever does… Read More

A Different Moses Emerges for All Time

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What is the significance of the dazzling radiance of Moses’ face and why did it not attain this shining glow until he received the Second Tablets on Yom Kippur? And, perhaps the most difficult question of all, why did Moses break the first tablets? Yes, he was bitterly disappointed, perhaps even angry, at the Israelites’… Read More

The Stigma of Fame

People are motivated by many things. The search for pleasure is certainly one of the great motivators of human beings. So are the search for power and the search for riches. There are also those among us who seek to be liked by others, to the extent that the search for adulation is their primary… Read More