Branching Out

This Shabbat, we begin reading the fourth book of the Torah, Sefer Bamidbar. In English, it is called the Book of Numbers because this parshah, also called Bamidbar, begins with a census of the Israelites. It was necessary to count all the men of age 20 and above so that there would be an army… Read More

The Power of Internal Peace Parshat Bechukotai


This Torah portion is called by our Sages, “the Torah of the Kohen-Priests” — the religious leadership of  Israel whose task it was to minister in the Holy Temple and to teach Torah to the nation. A public remnant of their priestly function still exists, when the Kohanim bestow the priestly benediction upon the congregation… Read More

The True Role of Jewish Leadership Parshat Emor


The theme of the priesthood, explored in our portion of Emor, is further amplified in the Haftorah, where we read, “And they [the priests] shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the common, and cause them to discern between the ritually impure and the ritually pure. And in a controversy they shall… Read More

Stay Holy as a Jew Parshat K’doshim, Leviticus 19:1-20:27

If a dictator came to power in the U.S., people were being killed constantly and there were bombings every hour, how would you feel? What would you do? People are experiencing that right now, in Syria, and other places around the world. As Jews, we have the responsibility to help when someone is in need… Read More

Protecting Lives Parshat Acharei Mot, Levitcus 16-18:30

“You shall keep My laws and My rules; and live by them; I am God” (Leviticus 18:5). I am delving into this line because Jewish clergy are being asked this week to speak out on the issue of domestic abuse in our communities. “Domestic abuse occurs in the Jewish community at the same rate as… Read More

Changing the World While Counting the Omer

This Shabbat is the last day of Passover (Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17 and Numbers 28:25), and we can put aside (or throw out) any remaining matzoh and  return to our everyday lives. But can we really? Is the holiday truly finished? Yes, Passover is finished here in the diaspora after eight days, but it actually isn’t finished… Read More

The First Jewish Doctors Parschat Tazria, Leviticus 12:1-13:59

In 1990, Dr. Gail Wilensky asked me to make an invocation at her installation as director of Medicare and Medicaid. I included Birkat Ha-kohanim, the priestly blessing, since the Torah speaks about the role of the Kohen in diagnosing illness and disease. It also makes the kohanim responsible for public health, although not necessarily as… Read More

The Open Curtain Parshat Tzav; Leviticus 6:1-8:36

Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb

One day we were to study page 55 in the tractate Zevachim. This tome deals with laws pertaining to the ritual sacrifices in the Holy Temple. The biblical basis of these laws is found in this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Tzav (Leviticus 6:1-8:36). There, we learn about a variety of voluntary sacrifices that individuals can… Read More

Reviving a Jewish Court

During the centuries of its existence, the Sanhedrin — the great Jewish court of the First and Second Commonwealths, comprised of 71 elders and sages — ruled on every aspect of life and brought unity to the land in decisions binding on the entire nation. Its members had to be recipients of the classic Jewish… Read More