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The Teacher as Hero
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Imagine the following scenario. You are 119 years and 11 months old. The end of your life is in sight. Your hopes have received devastating blows. You have been told by God that you will not enter the land to which you have been leading your people for forty years. You have been repeatedly criticised […]
Priorities
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Covenant and Conversation Family Edition on OU Life The Israelites were almost within sight of the Promised Land. They had successfully waged their first battles. They had just won a victory over the Midianites. There is a new tone to the narrative. We no longer hear the querulous complaints that had been the bass note […]
The Crown All Can Wear
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Covenant and Conversation Family Edition on OU Life Moses said to the Lord, “May the Lord, God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like […]
Not Reckoned Among the Nations
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Covenant and Conversation Family Edition on OU Life The year is 1933. Two Jews are sitting in a Viennese coffee house, reading the news. One is reading the local Jewish paper, the other the notoriously antisemitic publication Der Stürmer. “How can you possibly read that revolting rubbish?” says the first. The second smiles. “What does […]
Losing Miriam
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Covenant and Conversation Family Edition on OU Life It is a scene that still has the power to shock and disturb. The people complain. There is no water. It is an old complaint and a predictable one. That is what happens in a desert. Moses should have been able to handle it with ease. He […]
Argument for the Sake of Heaven
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Covenant and Conversation Family Edition on OU Life The Korach rebellion was not just the worst of the revolts from the wilderness years. It was also different in kind because it was a direct assault on Moses and Aaron. Korach and his fellow rebels in essence accused Moses of nepotism, of failure, and above all […]
Fear of Freedom
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Covenant and Conversation Family Edition on OU Life The episode of the spies was one of the most tragic in the entire Torah. Who sent them and to what end is not entirely clear. In this week’s parsha, the text says that it was God who told Moses to do so (Num. 13:1–2). In Deuteronomy […]
Camp and Congregation
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Covenant and Conversation Family Edition on OU Life The parsha of Beha’alotecha speaks about the silver trumpets – clarions – Moses was commanded to make: The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Make two trumpets of silver; make them of hammered work. They shall serve you to summon the congregation [edah] and cause the camps [machanot] […]
Sages and Saints
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Covenant and Conversation Family Edition on OU Life Parshat Naso contains the law of the Nazirite – the individual who undertook to observe special rules of holiness and abstinence: not to drink wine or other intoxicants (including anything made from grapes), not to have his hair cut, and not to defile himself by contact with […]
Leading a Nation of Individuals
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Covenant and Conversation Family Edition on OU Life Bamidbar begins with a census of the Israelites. That is why this book is known in English as Numbers. What is the significance of this act of counting? And why here at the beginning of the book? Besides which, there have already been two previous censuses of […]