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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. […]
Regrets
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“Regrets, I’ve had a few But then again, too few to mention I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway And more, much more than this, I did it my way.” (Written by Paul Anka for Frank Sinatra) Modern […]
An Accounting
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As the Book of Shmot draws to a conclusion, so, too, does the building of the Mishkan. The detailed instructions for the Mishkan and the account of its actual construction dominate the last third of the Book of Shmot, and both the book and the building project end in these twinned parshiot. As the supreme […]
Knowing Tomorrow
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At the foot of Mount Sinai – the very same spot where the most awesome events had unfolded a mere forty days earlier – the people were anxious. Moshe, their leader, had not come down, and fear for his survival spread throughout the camp. What happens next seems inconceivable on so many levels: How could […]
Purim and the Masks We Wear
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Have you ever been in a situation in which you were afraid to reveal who you really are? Have you ever felt as if you were wearing a mask and dressed up like someone else? This can happen to individuals, but it can also happen to a nation. One of the results of living in […]
Holy Clothing
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The chapters immediately preceding this week’s Torah reading contained very precise instructions for building the Mishkan. Now, our attention is turned to those who will serve as the custodians of this holy sanctuary: The kohanim. Parashat Tetzaveh records, in minute detail, God’s instructions for the creation of the special clothing to be worn by the […]
The View From Above
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As Parashat Terumah begins, we are somewhat taken aback: Out of nowhere (or so it seems), instructions for a major construction project are handed down.Coming on the heels of the very practical list of torts that makes up much of Parashat Mishpatim – laws that serve as the framework for a just and elevated society […]