Water as Torah

This Shabbat, we read the haftorah from the Book of Jeremiah. During his lifetime, Jeremiah, the prophet, remembered the exile of the Northern Kingdom by the Assyrians, when the Ten Tribes were led into captivity. The Israelites were worshiping idols and foreign gods, and Jeremiah understood that they had to be punished for their lack… Read More

Mitzvot and Faith Parshat Behar-Bechukotai

In this week’s double parshah, Behar-Bechukotai, the Israelites are instructed how to take care of the land of Israel. The shmita year, the seventh year, was created to make sure that the land would not be worked continuously so that it could replenish itself. As an agricultural society, Israelites would grow crops to produce food… Read More

When You’re Here, You’re Family Parshat Emor

Since Judaism teaches that all Jews are responsible for each other, the hemorrhaging of the number of diaspora Jews actively involved in Jewish life, or even identifying as Jews, is a source of grave concern. How might we inspire our Jewish siblings to remain within, or return to, Jewish tradition? We must remember that the… Read More

Behold the Power of Man Parshat Tazria-Metzora

The mitzvah of circumcision in the portion of Tazria appears in the midst of the discussion of the impure and pure periods immediately following childbirth. And our Sages specifically derive from this ordinance that the ritual of circumcision overrides Shabbat: “‘On the eighth day, [the child’s] foreskin shall be circumcised’ — even if it occurs… Read More

The Meaning of Kashrut Parashat Shmini

This Shabbat we read Parshat Shmini, which deals with the laws of keeping kosher. The Torah provides the laws for what we should and should not eat. Land creatures must have split hoofs and chew their cud. Sea creatures must have scales and fins. We cannot eat birds of prey or scavenger birds. For bugs,… Read More

Silence Is More Than Golden Passover

The last days of the festival of Passover are dedicated to the splitting of the Reed Sea, one of the most dramatic and cataclysmic events in biblical history. The Israelites have left Egypt and believe they are “home free.” However, the Egyptian hordes begin to chase after the newly formed free men. The Israelites, faced… Read More

Do It for the Children Parshat Tzav

The Shabbat before Passover is called Shabbat Hagadol (the Great Sabbath), a phrase deriving from the last verse of the prophetic portion read on that day, which declares that God will send Elijah the Prophet on the “great day” of the Lord right before the coming of the redemption. Let us attempt to link Elijah… Read More

‘Mistakes Were Made’ Parshat Vaykira

We all know the scene. A public official, team leader or authority figure (even, gasp, a rabbi) stands in front of a room after some kind of scandal has been revealed and utters these words (usually with a sense of practiced earnestness), “Mistakes were made … .” While the phrase has a long history in… Read More

Repetition and Renewal Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei

Why repeat, as this week’s Torah portion does, all the details of the construction of the Mishkan after we have already heard them, when they were initially commanded? Would it not have been simpler to deal with the entire execution of external building, furnishings and priestly garb with the single verse: “And the People of… Read More