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Reading Anti-Semites
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Parashat Balak begins with a peek into a world that both attracts and repulses us; it is a conversation among anti-Semites regarding the Jewish Problem. This conversation interests us because, on some level, we want to know what others are saying about our people – even to the point of an obsession that enthralls and […]
Embracing Torah
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Death permeates this week’s parasha. There are the obvious deaths – Moshe’s older siblings, Miriam and Aharon – and the not-so-obvious deaths: At some point, very quietly, the Torah has “fast forwarded” and skipped 38 years between the previous parashah, Korach, and this week’s parashah, Chukat; all the adults that left Egypt, the generation that […]
Living the Dream; Ignoring Reality
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Opportunism, demagoguery, manipulation, jealousy, conniving, self-destruction: These are just some of the words that come to mind when considering Korach and his rebellion. Moshe’s leadership was challenged many times, both before and after the Exodus from Egypt. Usually, these attacks arose in times of crisis; scarcity of resources has a way of bringing out the […]
Have I Got a Land for You!
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The tragic tale of the spies is well-known: Moshe handpicks leaders to pay a visit to the Promised Land, but the mission spirals out of control. Upon hearing the spies’ report, mass hysteria breaks out, and, as a result, a death sentence is handed down to all those involved: The entire generation that had been […]
Despair and Hope
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At one time or another, anyone may feel overwhelmed, either due to work-related stress, conflict with co-workers, friends, one’s spouse or children – or a combination of factors. For some people, problems have a way of metastasizing, spreading noxious despair that overtakes the more positive aspects of life. The pressures seem too much to handle; […]
Avoiding Embezzlement
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The major thrust of Parashat Naso is the initialization of the Temple, particularly the consecration offerings brought by the leaders of each tribe. After an opening section that deals with the stewards of the Temple service, but just before getting into the main topic of discussion, a few seemingly “random” laws are transmitted. The first […]
An (Un)Necessary Book
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As we begin reading the fourth book of the Torah, we cannot help feeling somewhat unsettled. Each of the chapters of B’midbar (Numbers) follows in logical sequence; no particular word or sentence causes us unease. Rather, the entire book, as a whole, gives us pause: At face value, this book should never have been written. […]
You Can Get Satisfaction
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Most of Parashat Bechukotai deals with the disastrous consequences of rebellion. If the Jewish People fails to obey God’s commandments, pain, death and exile will follow. However, this stern warning is prefaced by a description of the utopic existence that awaits us if we fulfill the laws of the Torah. This bright future, and the […]
Living and Loving
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As the contours of life and law in Israel’s new agricultural society emerge, it becomes clear that the economy outlined by the Torah is designed not only to support farmers and their clientele. Jewish law creates a structure through which even the poor and disenfranchised are provided for and protected. Throughout this parasha, we find […]
An Extension of Holiness
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Centuries ago, a major argument shook the Jewish world. The argument centered around the omer offering, specifically regarding the interpretation of the Torah passage commanding that the omer ceremony be performed “after the Shabbat.” In context, the word Shabbat clearly refers to the Passover holiday, which is also a sabbatical day – a day of […]