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Lessons in Repetition
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There’s a lot of repetition in the fifth, sixth and seventh aliyot of Parshat Naso. On every subsequent day of the inauguration of the Mishkan, each tribal leader offers a set of sacrifices on behalf of his tribe: The one who presented his offering on the first day was Nahshon son of Amminadab of the […]
Parshat Bechukotai
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Parshat Bechukotai begins with great promise for those who observe God’s commandments: If you follow My laws and faithfully observe My commandments, I will grant your rains in their season, so that the earth shall yield its produce and the trees of the field their fruit. (Vayikra 26:3-4) In an agricultural society, rain is the […]
Owning Land in Eretz Yisrael
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There is great debate among halachik authorities as to the modern day obligation to live in the Land of Israel, and much ink has been spilled on the topic. But what about just buying land in Israel, not for the purposes of settling the land, is that a mitzvah?  The Talmud in Avodah Zarah 20a […]
Sefirat Haomer: A Parable of the Bechor Shor
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In Parshat Emor the Bechor Shor provides a beautiful explanation that he learned from his father on the topic of sefirat haomer, the counting of the days between Passover and Shavuot. And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering—the day after the sabbath—you shall count off seven weeks. They must […]
Playing God
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In Parshat Kedoshim the Torah prohibits three different forms of kilayim, crossbreeding: You shall observe My laws. You shall not let your cattle mate with a different kind; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed; you shall not put on cloth from a mixture of two kinds of material. (Yayikra 19:19) […]
Chukat Akum – What Nations are Intended?
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A common question, and sometimes dilemma, of the Jew in the Diaspora is the extent to which we can and should acculturate into our host nation. Those who are halachically observant know to draw the line at celebrating Christmas and Halloween, despite the secularization of these days. But what about more innocuous things like New […]
Seeking Out Estrangement
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One of the greatest challenges for the Jew in the modern world is avoiding sin in a world wherein every pleasure and temptation is readily accessible and even glorified by Western culture. The aggressive marketing campaigns of non-kosher restaurants can be captivating, and the aroma of a treif barbecue eatery that permeates the air can […]
Non-Kosher Animals, Blood and Orlah
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In Parshat Shemini the Bechor Shor provides his own explanations as to why some animals and foods are kosher, and other are not. Any animal that has true hoofs, with clefts through the hoofs, and that chews the cud—such you may eat.  The following, however, of those that either chew the cud or have true […]
Unifying Our Will
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In the beginning of Parshat Vayikra the Torah provides much of the criteria for sacrifices, one of which is “lirtzono.” If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall make his offering a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, lirztono, before the LORD. […]
The Most Successful Building Campaign
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In the beginning of Parshat Vayakhel, Moses assembles the entire Jewish people in order to tell them about the Terumah, the contributions which they will be making for the construction of the the Mishkan, Tabernacle.  We, the readers of the Torah, are already well familiar which much of the details of the Mishkan after having […]