Sidrahs

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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Re'eh

By Lindsay Simmonds, August 21, 2014

This week’s sidrah mentions Jerusalem, not by name, but by alluding to it as “the place which God has chosen”. This phrase is mentioned 15 times throughout Deuteronomy. Before this, the children of Israel are introduced to the changes which must take place when they enter the Land of Israel, which include laws detailed in succeeding sedarot.

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Ekev

By Rabbi Josh Levy, August 14, 2014

With average life expectancy during the biblical period of around 30 years, it is unsurprising that the Bible seems unaware of the challenges presented by dementia. Biblical characters reach old age with their faculties undiminished; the biblical authors had little experience of progressive cognitive degeneration.

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Va'etchanan

By Rabbi Barry Lerer, August 7, 2014

Moses stood on Mt Nebo looking at the Land of Israel and he prayed in 515 different ways, trying to find a way that would change God's mind and let him in to the Holy Land.

He begged God to let him be a bird or even a stone, anything that would let him enter into the Land of Israel.

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Devarim

By Dr Annette Boeckler, July 31, 2014

In a competitive society, we are supposed to focus on success and strength.

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Massei

By Rabbi Daniel Rowe, July 24, 2014

History is replete with political super-entities crumbling back to constituent parts under the pressure of tribalism. Today it is the Middle East, yesterday the Balkans.

The project of Bemidbar, the forging of a nation from disparate tribes, appears to have fallen short at the finishing line.

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Mattot

By Lindsay Simmonds, July 17, 2014

At this point in the journey through the wilderness, the Torah tells us that the tribes of Gad and Reuben had many cattle.

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Pinchas

By Rabbi Josh Levy, July 10, 2014

What to do with Pinchas?  His model of religious action in killing Zimri and Cozbi is deeply disturbing, an apparent invitation to acts of zealotry. And yet it receives not merely approval, but the reward of a "pact of friendship", a divine promise of eternal priesthood.

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Balak

By Rabbi Barry Lerer, July 3, 2014

This week's parashah tells the amazing story of Balaam the non-Jewish prophet, who was commissioned by Balak the king of Moab to curse the Children of Israel. On his way to curse them, God sent an angel to confront him.

The Torah tells us that whereas Balaam could not see the angel, his donkey could and tried to veer out of the way. Balaam was frustrated with the donkey and hit it three times.

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Chukkat

By Dr Annette Boeckler, June 26, 2014

A major festival happens this week, ignored by many, but in ancient times it ranked as high as Shabbat. This week Rosh Chodesh, the festival of the New Noon, falls on Shabbat (and Sunday).

Therefore the haftarah this Shabbat teaches about Rosh Chodesh. (The traditional haftarah is from Isaiah 66: Liberal congregations will read a different text).

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