Sidrahs

Lech lecha

By Gila Fine, October 30, 2014

The glare. It came at you, white and fierce, defying you to take one more step into the sun. Yet there was something benevolent about it, something beckoning, a guide toward the promised land.

Abram squinted. He was never one for bright lights. They reminded him too much of Ur. It was, he recalled, a world in flames.

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Noach

By David Mitchell, October 23, 2014

We all know the story - the animals came in two by two, it rained for forty days and nights, the waters receded, the dove returned with an olive branch, Noah left the Ark, and a rainbow appeared. But what happened next?

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Bereshit

By Rabbi Jonny Hughes, October 14, 2014

The Torah teaches here that the sun and the moon have two distinct functions. The first is to differentiate between different times and seasons, a kind of celestial luach (calendar). The second is to illuminate the planet. Rashi understands that these two purposes are listed in order of importance.

The revered pre-War thinker, Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman, questions the order.

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Shabbat Chol Hamo'ed

By Dr Annette Boeckler, October 7, 2014

King Gog from the land of Magog is a future king, the last of Israel's enemies. He will be definitively destroyed by God Himself at the outbreak of the messianic times, according to the haftarah this Shabbat. His defeat will be the ultimate public and universal demonstration of God's holiness.

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Yom Kippur

By Rabbi Daniel Rowe, October 2, 2014

What exactly is atonement? The archaic-sounding translation belies a fundamental perspective on behavioural transformation.

On Yom Kippur we ask for three things.

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Ha'azinu

By Lindsay Simmonds, September 23, 2014

In this week's sidrah, the penultimate in the Torah, we are told of Moses's impending death. Lord Sacks, commenting on the verses above, suggests that just as the very same rain falls on every plant or tree and yet what grows is specific and unique vegetation, so too with the Torah.

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Nitzavim-Vayelech

By Rabbi Josh Levy, September 18, 2014

We sometimes forget just how radical the early rabbis were.

They inherited a text, the Torah, which they understood to be the direct will of God, and made it the foundation for a new, rich religious life, one which is often unrecognisable as that described in the text itself.

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Ki tavo

By Rabbi Barry Lerer, September 11, 2014

This week's parashah starts with a mitzvah to rejoice when one brings one's bikkurim (first fruits) to Jerusalem.

However, we must ask why is there a specific command for the farmer to rejoice when bringing his first fruits?

Rabbi Mordechai Gifter (1915-2001) explains that the farmer might be blessed with a bumper crop.

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Ki Tetzei

By Dr Annette Boeckler, September 4, 2014

"When you go out to war against your enemies", the Torah says (Deuteronomy 21:10). Here in the UK we don't need to "go out", it is sufficient to stay at home watching, listening and reading the news on our phones, newspapers, radios and TVs. We are automatically involved in war by just being Jews and some of us have experienced some kind of attack even here.

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Shoftim

By Rabbi Daniel Rowe, August 28, 2014

The Torah broke with all ancient ‎codes in limiting the power of human authority. To the regional superpowers in Egypt and Mesapotamia, rulers and priests were interfaces with the gods; they controlled the land and the people.

In the Torah, land was owned by private citizens, with every citizen given the same amount. Priests could own no land at all.

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