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Clouds, From Both Sides
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As the book of Shmot draws to an end, a cloud envelops and fills the newly completed Mishkan. In a general sense, we understand that this is what makes the Mishkan operational: The cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and God’s glory filled the Mishkan. Moshe could not come into the Tent of Meeting because […]
Light My Fire
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In the aftermath of the golden calf debacle, in the wake of the destruction and death it caused, and after God agreed to forgive the nation and move forward, Moshe descends from Mount Sinai with a new set of Tablets. At last, Moshe has the opportunity to speak to the people. These same people had […]
After the Gold Rush
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It was all supposed to be so very different: Their stop at Sinai was originally supposed to be brief, but transformative. When the Children of Israel arrived at Sinai, everything seemed so special, so idyllic, in so many ways: They had come together as a nation, bonded in a sense of unity and love, born […]
Forever
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Long ago, we had a Temple. The Temple, or even the loss of it, does not usually occupy the minds or hearts of most Jews: Its rituals seem foreign to us, part of a distant, forgotten world. And yet, in the instructions for the building of the first Jewish house of worship, there is one […]
Deep Roots
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One of the basic necessities for any successful building project is quality raw materials. A building will only be as strong as the materials used to construct it, although a stable foundation, thoughtful and thorough design plans and capable artisans are other necessary components for a solid structure. The building of the Mishkan, of a […]
Not in Heaven
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As the chapters following the Revelation at Sinai unfold, the narrative seems to have been replaced by a slew of laws. Servants, cattle, damages and punitive obligations fill the pages of this week’s Torah portion, and it seems as if the lofty experience of standing at Sinai and witnessing the theophany has been eclipsed by […]
Dual Loyalty
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Hearing of the wonders that had transpired, Yitro, Moshe’s father in law, arrives in the Israelite encampment in the desert. He is genuinely happy to hear of the wondrous events that had brought about the Israelites’ reversal of fortune, transforming them from lowly slaves into free people. Yitro joins Moshe, Aharon and the elders in […]
Heavenly Bread
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The road from Egypt to Mount Sinai was not an easy one. The difficulty was not only due to the nature of the terrain the Israelites had to cross, or even the fact that their former masters pursued them in a murderous frenzy; the basic logistics of the care and feeding of such a large […]
Total Eclipse
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Something had changed; the earth had begun to shift under Pharaoh’s feet. Perhaps it was brought about by the crushing force of plague after plague, or perhaps the fear of what was yet to come had begun to take its toll. Either way, the cracks in Pharaoh’s facade had begun to show: Pharaoh’s servants were […]
You Say You Want a Devolution
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Hard work is one thing, servitude quite another. Hard work is respectable, respected, and laudable; slavery is humiliating, dehumanizing. When a person is treated like chattel, the divine spark with which every human being is endowed is eclipsed. More often than not, this is true not only in the eyes of the enslaver, but in […]