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Power of the People
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The book of Vayikra makes a sudden shift from the world of the Mishkan to the laws of purity (taharah) and impurity (tum’ah). In a sense, these are two sides of the same coin: Those who encounter tum’ah are banished from the Mishkan; we may say that tum’ah is the antithesis of what the Mishkan […]
Fixing a Broken World
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With the completion of the Mishkan, there was much excitement and anticipation in the Israelite camp. On the day the Mishkan was to become operational, Moshe assured Aharon that the Glory of God would be revealed: God will reveal Himself to you today.’… God’s glory will be revealed to you.’…. (Vayikra 9:4,6) The sign would […]
Intrigue in Shushan
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Purim is a raucous holiday.[1] With gifts and costumes and perhaps a little wine, it is a day (or, in Israel, what seems like an entire week) of celebration and happiness. What is the source of this festive atmosphere? Our automatic assumption is that an answer may be found in Megillat Esther, The Book of […]
Obedience
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The world of sacrificial offerings is a new, different and foreign world. As readers, we get lost in the strangeness of the entire subject, and do not pause to think about what we have read, to understand and internalize. The basic premise of sacrifice creates a world of responsibility, in which the individual bears responsibility […]
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 […]