Sidrahs

Bemidbar

By Rabbi David Mitchell, May 22, 2015

The biblical method for conducting a census avoided a direct count of heads; instead, small objects were collected, traditionally coins, such as a half-shekel. Yet in the book of II Samuel, King David errs by conducting a direct census, resulting in a plague which kills 70,000 Israelites. This tragedy leads to an ongoing Jewish faux pas — counting people.

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Behar-Bechukkotai

By Rabbi Jonny Hughes, May 14, 2015

The pain was excruciating. It suddenly dawned on me why nearly every other tourist zooming around the island on a moped was covered in leg bandages. You see, when you stopped and attempted to dismount these particular bikes, one's calf inevitably came into contact with the exhaust pipe and your next sensation made hell seem like a lukewarm bath. My leg was literally melting.

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Emor

By Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu, May 7, 2015

This week's Torah portion is a manual for the priesthood and a guide to priestliness. It is an intensely physical state. A priest must of course be born a Cohen, a descendant of Aaron.
Avoiding the defiling power of contact with the dead, he must never shave his head or his beard, or make gashes in his flesh. He must marry only a virgin Israelite or a daughter of the priesthood.

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Acharei Mot-Kedoshim

By Rabbi Elchonon Feldman, April 30, 2015

Growing up in Brooklyn, my home was situated a mere two roads from the HQ of the Jewish volunteer ambulance corps Hatzalah. It was common on Shabbat to see religious Jews whizzing by in their cars, ambulances or motorbikes with sirens blaring and lights flashing, on their way to respond to a distress call.

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Tazria-Metzora

By Felicia Epstein, April 23, 2015

Why does this sidrah, which details the purification process for women after childbirth, repeat the law of male circumcision? We have already learned about the law of circumcision in Genesis with Abraham.

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Shemini

By Rabbi David Mitchell, April 17, 2015

It’s about this point in the annual Torah cycle that, as a long-term vegetarian, I become increasingly uncomfortable. It is not just the laws in this week’s parashah concerning the consumption of meat and which species are permitted but also the gory Temple rituals involving flesh, blood, entrails and animal sacrifices.

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Eighth day Pesach

By Rabbi Jonny Hughes, April 8, 2015

Spring has never been quite the same for me after a trip I took a couple of years ago. I was accompanying a Jewish school's heritage visit to Poland. One of the places we visited was Auschwitz, which I expected to be depressing, but when you stare at the endless piles of shoes and suitcases, you are truly speechless.

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First day Pesach

By Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu, April 2, 2015

Pesach marks the birth of our freedom. The Egyptian firstborn are dead. Now, Pharaoh says, "Get up and go." We had unbaked dough on our backs, but we also took away armfuls of Egyptian gold and silver.

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Tzav

By Rabbi Elchonon Feldman, March 26, 2015

Minding Ps and Qs, having good manners and generally trying to avoid the impression of being "born on a bus" are what good parents try to teach their children. Society as well puts a heavy emphasis on civility.

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Vayikra

By Felicia Epstein, March 19, 2015

The Book of Vayikra, which is known as the Law of the Priests, opens with Moses addressing the entire Jewish people about the laws of sacrifices - laws seemingly relevant only to the priestly class.

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