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TAZRIA 5784

04/12/2024 02:40:40 PM

Apr12

Tazria is the fourth Parsha in the third book of the Torah, Vayikra - Leviticus. Tazria is not an easy Parsha to read. From a linguistic level, there are many words in our Parsha that appear nowhere else in the Torah and never seem to have been in daily usage. Our tradition has preserved their meaning and intention, but it makes for a stuttering read. Thematically it is difficult because our Parsha describes a...Read more...

SHMINI 5784

04/05/2024 01:25:53 PM

Apr5

Shmini is the third Parsha in the third book of the Torah. Shmini means eighth. It refers to the eighth day of the dedication of the Mishkan and the Kohanim. The last Parsha described how for seven days Moshe set up the Mishkan, anointed various parts of it and dedicated Aharon and his sons as the priest, Kohanim, of the Mishkan. Our Parsha begins on the eighth day, when Moshe finishes initiating his brother and...Read more...

TZAV 5784

03/29/2024 10:59:28 AM

Mar29

Tzav is the second Parsha in the third book of the Torah, Vayikra. Last week we started Vayikra by detailing how to perform a number of the various sacrifices offered in the Mishkan. This week’s Parsha has two parts. The first half continues the directions that we started last week with the beginning of the book of Vayikra. The text starts by telling us about additional aspects of the daily sacrifices that took...Read more...

VAYIKRA 5784

03/22/2024 11:03:41 AM

Mar22

Vayikra is the first Parsha in the third book of the Torah, Vayikra. The book of Vayikra is a departure from the previous two books of the Torah in both style and content. While sacrifices were performed throughout the first two books of the Torah, Vayikra proscribes for us how to perform them. Vayikra is the first book of the Torah that deals largely with Jewish law. We switch from a narrative based text telling...Read more...

PEKUDEI 5784

03/15/2024 11:08:00 AM

Mar15

Pekudei is the eleventh Parsha in the book of Shemot/Exodus. This week we finish the book of Shmote. The first book of the Torah, Bereishit/Genesis finishes with a happy ending, all the children of Yakov are united even after his death. So too, Shmote ends with a happy ending. After the trials of the desert and the failure of the golden calf, the book ends with G!d’s house, the Mishkan, complete and inhabited,...Read more...

VAYAKHEL 5784

03/08/2024 10:52:34 AM

Mar8

Vayakhel is the penultimate Parsha in the book of Shmote - Exodus. Vayekhel takes place in the desert of Sinai opposite the mountain where G!d made his presence known to Israel. Vayakhel means he gathered this is the first gathering of the nation since Moshe returned with the second set of the Ten Commandments. All the tribes stand at attention to hear what penance G!d has set for us. What’s the price of sin, of...Read more...

KI TISA 5784

03/01/2024 11:53:32 AM

Mar1

Ki Tisa is the ninth of the eleven Parhsiot of the book of Shemot - Exodus. This week G!d finishes instructing Moshe how to build the Mishkan and gives him the ten commandments. Just before Moshe turns to return to the Children of Israel with the two tablets of law in his hands, G!d tells him the worst news ever. The Children of Israel have gone astray. Less than two months after hearing G!d tell us not to worship...Read more...

TETZAVE 5784

02/23/2024 11:14:42 AM

Feb23

This week’s Parsha is the eighth Parsha in the second book of the Torah Shmote - Exodus. We are now deep in the second half of the book, we have been speaking about the Mishkan, the traveling temple, and continue to speak about it. Last week we spoke about the basic structure of the Mishkan, the curtains, walls and furniture. This week we continue to speak about the Mishkan but our focus shifts from the structure...Read more...

TERUMA 5784

02/16/2024 10:48:07 AM

Feb16

We are now in the seventh Parsha of the second book of the Torah, the book of Shmote. There are eleven Parshiot in the book of Shmote, last week we hit the midpoint of Shmote, this week we start the second half. Starting this week the whole rest of the book of Shmote is occupied with the Mishkan, the traveling Temple that was at the center of our camp for the balance of our time in the desert. Except for a small detour in Parsha Ki Tisa, the...Read more...

MISHPATIM 5784

02/09/2024 10:30:02 AM

Feb9

Mishpatim is the six Parsha in the second book of the Torah. Mishpatim is a break from everything we have come to know from the Torah. Until now the Torah has been made up exclusively of narrative, this week we pivot to the other half of the Torah - Halacha/Jewish law. This week’s Parsha is a list of the laws that G!d tells Moshe to relay to the Children of Israel before we receive the Torah. The list of Mitzvot...Read more...

YITRO 5784

02/02/2024 11:19:27 AM

Feb2

Yitro is the fifth Parsha in the second book of the Torah. Parshat Yitro is an apex in human history, a moment that in spite of our constant striving, we have not been able to get back to for over three thousand years. In our Parsha G!d and the nation of Israel meet at Sinai. Everything after that is just details. Our Parsha is famous because G!d gives the Ten Commandments to Israel in the sixth Aliyah. More...Read more...

BESHALACH 5784

01/18/2024 05:32:01 PM

Jan18

We are now in the fourth Parsha in the book of Shmote. The book started with Israel enslaved. The Parsha begins with Israel leaving Egypt and heading to… the desert. Last week G!d freed us from slavery in Egypt, this week we start learning the price of freedom. This week the young nation of Israel faces down foreign armies twice, the first time they run, the second time they take a stand.

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VAIERA 5784

01/12/2024 12:40:06 PM

Jan12

Vaiera is the second Parsha in the book of Shmote. Last week, Israel was enslaved, Moshe was born, met G!d at the burning bush and unsuccessfully lobbied Pharaoh to set the Jews free. At the end of last week’s Parsha Moshe had succeeded in making things worse for the Israelite slaves and protested to G!d that he had delivered the Israelites greater suffering not freedom. This week G!d orders Moshe to start...Read more...

SHMOTE 5784

01/05/2024 12:17:15 PM

Jan5

This week we start a whole new book of the Torah, Shmote. We are now starting the second part of the Torah. The last twelve weeks we witnessed the weaving together of twelve brothers into one family, one tribe. The next four books of the Torah will deal essentially with this generation, where we transition from a family into twelve tribes and then into one nation.

We start with a...Read more...

VAYECHI 5784

12/29/2023 12:26:49 PM

Dec29

This is the twelfth and final Parsha in the book of Beresheit. Twelve is an essential number to the nation of Israel. We are made out of twelve parts by design not chance. Twelve denotes unity through the twelve months of the year. Our division of the day into two periods of twelve hours is intentional as well. Twelve is especially effective for helping us find unity in time. This week the twelve sons of Israel find...Read more...

VAYIGASH 5784

12/22/2023 11:03:11 AM

Dec22

Vayigash is the penultimate Parsha in the book of Bereishit. It is an amazing Parsha, in it Jehuda breaks the pattern of intrafamilial competition that has plagued mankind since our beginning. For the first time in recorded history, we have one brother willing to die for his brother rather than killing him. In this week’s Parsha we finally see the reconstituted sons of Israel from which the nation of Israel will grow. There are several...Read more...

MIKETZ 5784

12/15/2023 11:17:55 AM

Dec15

Miketz is the twelve Parsha in the Torah. The name means at the end, but the Parsha starts and ends squarely in the middle of the story of Yosef and his brothers. Last week Yosef was kidnapped, sold as a slave in Egypt, accused of attempted rape, imprisoned and while in prison he correctly interpreted the dreams of two of Pharaoh’s servants. This week he interprets the dream of Pharaoh, becomes viceroy, manages...Read more...

VAYESHEV 5784

12/08/2023 12:49:08 PM

Dec8

Vayeshev is the ninth Parsha in the Beresheit, the first book of the Torah. The title of our Parsha means to settle, it refers to Yakov who, the Parsha tells us, settles in the land of where his forefathers lived. Yakov’s role in our Parsha is passive, the narrative by and large takes leave of him here. Yakov decides to settle in the land as opposed to settling the land. In doing so he stops being a subject of...Read more...

VAYISHLACH 5784

12/01/2023 11:47:14 AM

Dec1

After twenty years in Babylon Yakov finally returns to Israel in this week’s Parsha. Life was not easy for him in Babylon but the challenges that he knew there pale in comparison to what he will contend with in the land that G!d swore to his forefathers. The most difficult aspect of the challenges is that they are never the ones that Yakov has prepared for.

The Parsha starts out...Read more...

VAYETZE 5784

11/24/2023 11:48:49 AM

Nov24

With this week’s Parsha we enter into the second half of the book of Bereishit. Last week we finished with Yitzchak and for the rest of the book of Bereishit we are dealing with Yakov and his children. Our Parsha covers a twenty year period, all of it, except the first few days, take place in Babylon. Yakov starts off our Parsha poor and alone  by the end he is the head of a great household with four wives,...Read more...

CHAYA SARAH 5784

11/10/2023 10:42:49 AM

Nov10

We are now in the fifth Parsha of the Torah and it is… unremarkable. For the last four weeks we were treated to some of the most amazing moments of history and heard the voice of G!d. This week, we have a funeral, an engagement and silence from G!d. While the events that take place in our Parsha are of great historical relevance, Avraham comes to possess the first property owned by the Children of Israel in the...Read more...

VAYIERA 5784

11/03/2023 01:10:09 PM

Nov3

This week is our second Parsha with Avraham and Sarah and effectively our last. Avraham and Sarah are both in next week’s Parsha, but they play minor roles as we transition to the second generation of our nation. Last week we saw Avraham doing everything he could to ensure himself a future. The theme of this week’s Parsha is the various paths that Avraham finds to that future, namely children. Our children are...Read more...

LECH LECHA 5784

10/27/2023 12:20:55 PM

Oct27

Two weeks ago the world began, last week civilization began, this week is the beginning of the Children of Israel. This week’s Parsha is dedicated exclusively to Avraham and Sarah, the first Jewish family. This week’s Parsha covers a span of twenty-four years. Throughout the whole Parsha Sarah and Avraham remain the only Jews. They have a huge household full of men and women, Avraham even has a son, but no one...Read more...

NOACH 5784

10/20/2023 12:23:11 PM

Oct20

We are only a week into the Torah and already things aren’t going well. At the end of last week’s Parsha G!d already regretted making man, declaring that “all the thoughts and creations of his heart are nothing but daily evil.”  The only ray of light is Noach.  Noach finds favor in G!d’s eyes. The world is full of violence, bloodshed, and sexual immorality and yet there is Noach who can divine a...Read more...

BERESHIT 5784

10/13/2023 01:26:55 PM

Oct13

This week’s Parsha is the most mysterious of the Torah. It reveals as much as it conceals. The creation of the world is the most mystical and engaging part of the Torah. The Midrash tells us a secret about the relationship between our world and the Torah. “Thus, the Holy One, blessed be He, consulted the Torah when he created the world” (Bereshit Rabbah, I:2). The Torah is the blueprint for the world, it was...Read more...

Simchat Torah 5784

10/06/2023 10:53:29 AM

Oct6

Simchat Torah is different from other Chagim in many ways: Its name does not appear in the Torah, Yizkor is held on the first and not second day of the Chag and most importantly its Torah reading is unique to Simchat Torah. Every Holiday was assigned a special section from the Torah that we read during the morning prayer service. The section of the Torah that we read for every other holiday besides Simchat Torah is...Read more...

Sukkot 5784

09/29/2023 10:21:48 AM

Sep29

Hag Sameach!

I love Sukkot, I love building the Sukkah, eating in the Sukkah, waving the Lulav and Etrog and just being in the Sukkah. The Torah tells us that on Sukkot we will have an extra measure of joy, but even without the Torah I would know that this is a special time of happiness.  The Gemara compares this time of year to the birth of a new child. Rosh Hashanah, the...Read more...

PARASHAT HAAZINU

09/22/2023 12:07:28 PM

Sep22

Haazinu is a small and impenetrable Parsha, like a black hole. I have different Chumashim strewn all over my living room. For each verse I must reference different commentators and translations in order to understand the literal meaning of the verse. Words appear here in forms that are rarely seen anywhere in the Torah. Rashi has to offer multiple explanations of the meaning of many words ostensibly because he...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah 5784

09/14/2023 02:10:26 PM

Sep14

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, is nearly upon us. We are all busy preparing for festive meals with our families and (too) many hours in the synagogue. What is the actual significance of this day, what should we feel and how should we properly prepare for this day?

The Babylonian Talmud states:  Three books are opened on Rosh Hashanah: one for the completely wicked, one...Read more...

Nitzavim-Vayeilekh 5783

09/08/2023 11:57:18 AM

Sep8

This week we have a double Parsha, Nitzavim and Vayelech. They are the eighth and ninth Parshiot in the book of Devarim, the final book of the Torah.  The two Parshiot form a bridge connecting two thematically diverse parts of the book of Devarim. The first part of this week’s reading finishes the vision of the curses that will befall the Children of Israel in the land of Israel if we fail to live with joy...Read more...

Ki Tavo 5783

09/01/2023 12:11:48 PM

Sep1

This week we are in the seventh Parsha in the final book of the Torah, Devarim. Devarim is Moshe’s final address to the Children of Israel before they enter the land of Israel and Moshe dies. Seven represents divine unity in our tradition, seven days of creation, seven years of the Shmita cycle. This week’s Parsha brings completion and closure to the second part of Devarim, in which Moshe describes what life...Read more...

Ki Tetse 5783

08/25/2023 02:04:18 PM

Aug25

This week’s Parsha is the sixth Parsha in the book of Devarim, the final book of the Torah. Moshe continues to prepare us for life without him in the land of Israel by illustrating the successes and challenges that we will meet there and reminding us of the commandments that will be incumbent upon us there. One of the main subjects of this week’s Parsha is how the nation wages war, what is permitted and what is...Read more...

Shoftim 5783

08/17/2023 11:42:21 AM

Aug17

 Shoftim is the fifth Parsha in the book of Devarim. It is the second Parsha in which Moshe lays out his vision for what life will look like for the Children of Israel in the land of Israel. This week’s Parsha reminds me of the books I used to read as a child that described how ideal cities work. Each member of society provides service and products that they exchange harmoniously with other members of their...Read more...

Reeh 5783

08/10/2023 02:15:55 PM

Aug10

This week’s Parsha, Reeh, is different from the three Parshiot that preceded it in the book of Devarim. In the last three Parshiot Moshe told us the story of the Children of Israel, our successes and occasional setbacks were all recalled in order that we learn from the past and find inspiration to keep achieving. This week our vision changes focus and Moshe starts talking about the future. We now shift our focus...Read more...

Ekev 5783

08/04/2023 11:26:54 AM

Aug4

We are now in the third Parsha of the Divarim, the final book of the Torah. This is the third and final Parsha in which Moshe tells the story of Israel to the Children of Israel. In each of the three Parshiot Moshe speaks specifically about three events that had a major impact on the Children of Israel. The first week Moshe recalls the sin of the spies, the second week he retells the Ten Commandments and revelation...Read more...

Va'etchanan 5783

07/28/2023 12:23:24 PM

Jul28

This week we read the second section in the book of Devarim and continue Moshe’s telling of the story of Israel. The Parsha is a direct address from Moshe, with some of the most memorable prose of the whole Torah:

.וְאַתֶּם֙ הַדְּבֵקִ֔ים בַּי-הֹ-וָ֖-ה אֱ-לֹהֵיכֶ֑ם חַיִּ֥ים כֻּלְּכֶ֖ם הַיּֽוֹם

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Devarim 5783

07/20/2023 12:33:56 PM

Jul20

This week’s Parsha begins Devarim, the fifth and final book of the Torah. The quality and content of Devarim is wholly different than the rest of the Torah. Whereas the rest of the Torah was written by Moshe as dictation from G!d, in Devarim we hear Moshe’s own prophetic voice. It is a unique perspective that we have had limited access to, until now. Devarim is not a reporting of events as they happen but rather...Read more...

Matot - Masei 5783

07/11/2023 10:24:30 AM

Jul11

This week we close the book of Bamidbar and bring to an end the wandering of the Children of Israel. The next and final book of the Torah, Devarim, is all words of advice and reprimand from Moshe; he tansmits them to us on the plains of Moab. Bamidbar is the hardest book of the Torah. The book of Bamidbar spans a thirty-eight-year period, yet the text only actually describes about six of those months. The only thing we know about the...Read more...

Pinchas 5783

07/06/2023 10:28:52 AM

Jul6

The title of this week’s Parsha comes from the name of the hero of last week’s Parsha, Pinchas. Pinchas ended a plague that G!d had struck the children of Israel with by killing a couple named Cozbi and Zimri. Cozbi and Zimri were not married, in fact it seems that they had just met, they were engaging in extramarital sex and they made this fact known to all the...Read more...

Chukat-Balak 5783

06/30/2023 10:56:58 AM

Jun30

This week’s Parsha starts with a jump forward thirty-eight years. The Children of Israel are now at the end of their sojourn in the desert. Between the end of last week’s Parsha and the beginning of this week’s Parsha what happened? G!d doesn’t bother to tell us. Instead, we are told about a nation that is now ready to enter the land of Israel all of the people condemned to die in the desert are gone and we...Read more...

Korach 5783

06/23/2023 01:35:15 PM

Jun23

Korach is a well known Parsha due to its rich characters and dramatic events. On a literary level it is an absolutely essential part of the Torah, so much so that the Mishna places the pit that swallowed Korach and his conspirators on the list of the ten things that were created at sundown just before the end of creation. When viewed in context with the surrounding Parshiot however it seems superfluous. That is...Read more...

Shelach 5783

06/15/2023 03:54:20 PM

Jun15

I met yesterday with a couple who first showed up in Poland in March 2022, in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They are refugees from the war, each with their own unique story and Jewish history. They have been active in the Ukraine refugee community and the Jewish community in Warsaw, playing an active role in connecting and activating the two of them. We spoke mostly about their future, and where they should seek...Read more...

Behalotcha 5783

06/08/2023 10:44:12 AM

Jun8

We are now in the third Parsha of the book of Bamidbar. The last two Parshiot have been all over the place in terms of chronology and content. For two weeks we’ve had an eclectic mix of narrative and Mitzvot, slowly building to this week’s Parsha in which the Children of Israel start their triumphant journey to the promised land. Finally the young nation takes its first unsure steps and we fall flat on our face. 

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Naso 5783

06/02/2023 09:00:16 AM

Jun2

This week’s Parsha is a strange one. The Parsha starts with a division of the different parts of the Mishkan to the  Levitic families to take charge of its dismantling, transport and reconstruction. The end of the Parsha is a list of sacrifices and gifts that the princes of each of the twelve tribes brought to the Mishkan on the days following its dedication. Spoiler alert, they are all the same. In between these two parts we...Read more...

Shavuot 5783

05/25/2023 09:54:42 AM

May25

Shavuot is a strange sort of holiday.  On Shavuot we celebrate G!d giving the Torah to the Children of Israel, but the written Torah was given to us only just before Moshe died; the Oral Torah is still being revealed.  Further the Torah never actually connects Shavuot to the giving of the Torah. Shavuot has three names in the Torah: holiday of the weeks, holiday of harvesting and holiday of first fruits....Read more...

Dvar Torah - Bamidbar 5783

05/19/2023 12:00:00 PM

May19

This week we start the fourth book of the Torah, Bamidbar. Bamidbar means in the wilderness, it describes both the geographical and psychological state of the newly formed Nation of Israel. Bamidbar is the most difficult book of the Torah to read because we are in the same place at the close of the book as we were at the beginning, in the wilderness. Bamidbar is first and foremost about the risk inherent in freedom. The wilderness is the...Read more...

Halakha - Behar Behukotai

05/12/2023 12:10:05 PM

May12

Shmita

This week’s Parsha, Behar, starts off by detailing the laws of Shmita. Shmita, the obligation to let the land of Israel lay fallow and uncultivated every seventh year, expresses our traditions' deep love for the land of Israel and all things that draw their sustenance from it. The Torah mentions it in four places, the Mishna and Jerusalem Talmud both have a Tractate dedicated to it. The Rambam deals extensively...Read more...

Dvar Torah - Behar Behukotai 5783

05/12/2023 12:00:00 PM

May12

This week we finish Vayikra, the third book of the Torah, and not on the happiest note. This week’s double section is best known for its end, which is a list of forty-nine curses that are bound to befall Israel when we stray from the path of Torah, Mitzvot and an equitable society. The curses are horrible and though we do our best to read them as fast as possible, when it comes to thinking about the Parsha...Read more...

Sun, April 14 2024 6 Nisan 5784