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The Theory of Conservation of Holiness
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As the Book of B’midbar begins, the Israelites have been encamped at the foot of Sinai for over a year, and we begin to sense a stirring that will soon become forward movement: First, instructions are given for conducting a census, followed by demarcation of marching formations and tribal flags. The mass of people who […]
There’s No Place Like Home
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Unfortunately, sometimes relationships deteriorate, and when they do, each side has thoughts about the wisdom of continuing, of staying together. Is the heartache worth it, the emotional cost justifiable? What if the relationship in question is between God and His Chosen People? What happens when that relationship deteriorates? If they have a “trial separation,” what […]
Dayenu!
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Modern colloquial Hebrew uses an ancient rabbinicism when asking what two seemingly disparate subjects have to do with one another. The phrase, drawn from comments on the first verse of Parashat B’Har, is:“What does Shmittah have to do with Mount Sinai?” This week’s Torah reading begins with what seems to be superfluous information: “God spoke […]
Teach Your Children
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As is often the case, the name of this week’s parasha is taken from a word in the very first verse:emor- “speak”. In fact, the act of speech appears three times in this verse: And God said to Moshe: Speak to the kohanim, the sons of Aharon, and say to them: Let none [of you] […]
Teach Your Children
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As is often the case, the name of this week’s parasha is taken from a word in the very first verse: emor – “speak”. In fact, the act of speech appears three times in this verse: And God said to Moshe: Speak to the kohanim, the sons of Aharon, and say to them: Let none […]
A Nation of Priests
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From the beginning of the book of Vayikra, our attention has been focused on the Mishkan and the rituals to be performed in it. When viewed as a corpus, the myriad laws that comprise “Leviticus” up to this point establish the Mishkan as the epicenter of the Jewish People – both in the geographical sense, […]
FreeBird
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The twin Torah portions of Tazria and Metzora contend with many physiological phenomena – some commonplace and natural, others rare and sinister: Everything from childbirth and common bodily excretions to skin lesions, leprosy and strange afflictions of garments and homes. Although these are all physical, if not physiological conditions, the Torah prescribes a spiritual response: […]
You Are What You Eat
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One of the distinguishing practices of Jewish observance is the distinct set of dietary considerations that constitutes the laws of kashrut. In the early chapters of the Torah,the prohibition against eating any part of a live animal is introduced – not as a “Jewish” law, but rather as a universal practice. Later, in the chapters […]
Becoming a Nation
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Passover commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt. The Exodus, however, was not exclusively a transformation in the realm of workers’ rights and workplace conditions. Something else monumental happened as a result of their freedom: A new nation came into being. The Jewish People was born. The arrival the sons of Yaakov in Egypt […]
Matzah and Chametz
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The concepts of leavened and unleavened bread are familiar to us from the holiday of Passover, but we tend to focus on the physical or technical aspects that differentiate them from one another. However, Jewish tradition goes far beyond the physics of the dough itself, and seeks out the deeper symbolism of hametz and matzah. […]