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Seeking Out Estrangement
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One of the greatest challenges for the Jew in the modern world is avoiding sin in a world wherein every pleasure and temptation is readily accessible and even glorified by Western culture. The aggressive marketing campaigns of non-kosher restaurants can be captivating, and the aroma of a treif barbecue eatery that permeates the air can […]
Non-Kosher Animals, Blood and Orlah
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In Parshat Shemini the Bechor Shor provides his own explanations as to why some animals and foods are kosher, and other are not. Any animal that has true hoofs, with clefts through the hoofs, and that chews the cud—such you may eat.  The following, however, of those that either chew the cud or have true […]
Unifying Our Will
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In the beginning of Parshat Vayikra the Torah provides much of the criteria for sacrifices, one of which is “lirtzono.” If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall make his offering a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, lirztono, before the LORD. […]
The Most Successful Building Campaign
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In the beginning of Parshat Vayakhel, Moses assembles the entire Jewish people in order to tell them about the Terumah, the contributions which they will be making for the construction of the the Mishkan, Tabernacle.  We, the readers of the Torah, are already well familiar which much of the details of the Mishkan after having […]
The Psychology of Sacrifice
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Towards the end of parshat Tetzaveh, the Bechor Shor presents an innovative understanding of the purpose of sacrifices.  As noted in parshat Terumah, the Bechor Shor has a nuanced understanding of why God commanded the Jewish people to build the Mishkan, the Tabernacle.  In this week’s parsha he adds that God obviously does not need […]
The Purpose of the Mishkan
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Parshat Terumah begins a series of parshiyot focused on the construction and inauguration of the Mishkan, the tabernacle that traveled with the Jewish people for 497 years until King Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem.  While the Torah tells us in great details how to build the Mishkan, there is not much emphasis in the […]
Long Lines and Ma’amad Har Sinai
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Parshat Yitro contains the most important event in the history of the world, Ma’amad Har Sinai, receiving the Torah at Sinai.  God reveals himself to the entire Jewish people and gives us His law. While the actual revelation at Sinai is the focal point of the parsha, it is only half of the sixth aliya.  […]
Eating Your Torah for Dinner
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In Parshat Beshalach, the Bechor Shor presents a non-traditional interpretation that has profound implications for the relationship between food and Torah. The Torah tells us: “They came to Marah, and could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter, which is why it was called Marah. And the people complained to Moses, saying, […]
The Doorposts of Egypt
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In Parshat Bo, on the eve of the exodus from Egypt, the Torah records that the Jewish people celebrated their freedom even before leaving Egypt.  The first Passover seder which occurred in Egypt was different than the Passover that the Jewish people would be commanded to observe in subsequent years.  One key difference was the […]
The Magicians’ Failure
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In Parshat Vaeira we are told that the magicians of Egypt were able to replicate the plagues of blood and frogs but failed when it came to the plague of lice.  Rashi writes that the magicians tried, and failed, to replicate the lice. In the midst of a lice epidemic, they tried to make more […]