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Seclusion
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  Tum’ah is a word that is not easily defined. While we use the word “impurity” to translate the concept of tum’ah, modern man has very little grasp of ritual purity and impurity. Although we share the dread caused by the most feared source of impurity – death – it is death itself we fear, […]
Separations
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As it becomes operational, the Mishkan (Tabernacle) engenders new responsibilities: Aharon is commanded to abstain from intoxicating beverages as he is called upon to function as kohen.  At first glance, this prohibition appears to be a practical precaution against the debilitating effects of alcohol and the diminished capacity often associated with drinking. There are, however, […]
Impetuousness
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As the Mishkan (Sanctuary) is about to become operational, one last detail must be addressed: Aharon and his sons must go through a process whereby they will become kohanim (priests). In addition to various rituals that will prepare them for their new position, a seven-day period of confinement is commanded, during which time the initiates […]
Intimacy
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The Book of Vayikra opens with a peculiar turn of phrase: “And (He) called out to Moshe, and God spoke to him. ” Apparently, as readers, we were unaware that the Book of Shmot came to an abrupt end, in mid- sentence. For that matter, we are not necessarily aware that we are reading the […]
A Happy Ending
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As we arrive at the end of the Book of Shmot  (Exodus), we are left with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the book seems to have a happy ending. Any reader who appreciates the hopelessness of the situation of the Israelite slaves in Egypt as they are described in the book’s early chapters, and […]
Creativity
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Parashat Vayakhel finds us in the midst of the construction of the Sanctuary, The Mishkan, and contains precise instructions for the select and elite group of artisans that will create the Mishkan itself, the objects it will house, and the ritual garments. In the midst of these highly detailed descriptions, Moshe gathers the people to […]
The View From Above
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Of all the elements of the sin of the Golden Calf, the most striking is the stark contrast: Moshe stands on the top of the mountain, in the stratosphere both physically and spiritually, about to receive the Torah, while at the foot of the mountain the people sink to the lowest possible level, rebelling against […]
Searching for a Heart of Gold
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Clothes can do many things; they can express a mood or serve as camouflage, attract attention, even seduce. Clothes can both conceal and reveal who we are. In this week’s parasha the clothes of the newly-appointed High Priest are described in unusual detail. These clothes were stunning; the combination of colors and precious metals created […]