Lifting of Hands as One

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Among the events recorded in this week’s Torah portion is the initiation of sacrifice, the first communal worship of the ancient Israelites wandering in the wilderness. Having been prepared both in procedure and in all the necessary elements, Aaron and his sons are consecrated as kohanim — priests — with the offering of the first… Read More

Love and Inclusivity

This weekend is packed with mitzvahs. On Shabbos, we read Parshat Tzav and Parshat Zachor. On Saturday night, we read Megilat Esther and then again on Sunday, together with all the other mitzvahs of Purim — gifts to friends, charity to the poor and a Purim banquet. There’s a wonderful theme running through all of… Read More

Drawing Closer to the Almighty

This week we begin the third book of the Torah, Vayikra, which means “God called.” This book of the Torah talks about how our ancestors praised God by sacrificing animals in the Temple. I believe that the Israelites brought sacrifices because they thought they needed to express thanks to God, thanks for everything that He… Read More

Appreciating the Journey

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“For over the Tabernacle a cloud of the Lord rested by day, and fire would appear in it by night, in the view of all the House of Israel throughout all their journeys.” With these words, we conclude reading the Book of Exodus this Shabbat. A book of the Torah that begins in slavery, walled… Read More

‘Daniel From Texas’

I sat at my desk munching a sugar-coated doughnut. Mr. Heller, our sixth-grade math teacher, handed our class treats for the 100th Day of School celebration. As I neatly chewed mine, I could see the new kid’s mouth twisting left and right as some powder covered his freckled face and plaid shirt. My friends and… Read More

Finding Rest Amid Creation

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We rest on the Shabbos because G-d rested on Shabbos. What does this mean? When G-d created the world he created it ex nihilo, something out of nothing. Before creation there was absolutely nothing besides G-d. With each of the 10 statements of creation (“Let there be light,” etc.), G-d brought our world and everything… Read More

The Value of Faith and Hope

This week’s haftorah echoes some of the themes found in the parshah of Ki Tissa. Its setting is in Northern Israel at a time after the 12 Tribes had been split into two kingdoms. What intrigues me in the reading is when Elijah strongly opposes the beliefs of Ahab and Jezebel, the king and queen… Read More

Man Makes the Clothes

There are 54 portions in the Torah. It would stand to reason that if any topic were to dominate any of these parshahs, that topic would be of excessive interest and import to the Jewish people and the world at large. That’s why many are shocked when they realize that this week’s portion is dedicated… Read More

Finding The Meaning Behind Seemingly Mundane Laws

There is an almost humorous anecdote mentioned in the Talmud in Tractate Brachot. In describing the possible superficial reality of one’s faith in G-d, the Talmud creates the surreal scene of a thief about to secretly break and enter into his victim’s home, whereupon he utters a silent prayer for success in his forbidden activity:… Read More

Parshat Mishpatim Using Our Gifts From God Wisely

In studying my bar mitzvah parshah, I delved into the subject of slavery, comparing the Jewish concept of servitude with slavery as it existed in the pre-Civil War South. To find out more on this subject I studied with Rabbi Shmuel Silber, and we reviewed the relevant sections in Parshat Mishpatim, Sefer Hachinuch, Ramban and… Read More