Sidrahs

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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Korach

By Rabbi Daniel Rowe, June 20, 2014

Few can fail to recognise the catastrophic consequences of disunity and strife. Arguments and feuds tear apart families, communities and nations. Yet dispute is inescapable. If we care about any issue that concerns more then just ourselves, then sooner or later we will encounter significant disagreements over areas that we feel matter.

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Shelach lecha

By Lindsay Simmonds, June 12, 2014

This week's sidrah exposes the challenges of Israel's journey from a community of passive participants in God's miracles (exodus from Egypt) to a people who familiarise themselves with nature, with the ability to create their own social, political and spiritual wellbeing.

In his introduction to Numbers, the Netziv (Rabbi Naftali Berlin 1816-1893) suggests that Israel now shifts from being "chil

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Beha'alotecha

By Rabbi Josh Levy, June 6, 2014

The Talmud tells the story of a student who once led prayers in the presence of Rabbi Eliezer. He abbreviated the service a great deal, much to the annoyance of Eliezer’s own students who objected. “He shortens the prayers too much”, they complained to their master. Rabbi Eliezer replied, “Does he shorten them more than our teacher Moses?

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Naso

By Rabbi Barry Lerer, May 29, 2014

This week’s parashah is the longest in the Torah. Yet over half of the verses are repetition of the identical offerings brought by each of the twelve tribal leaders for the dedication of the Mishkan (Tabernacle).

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Bemidbar

By Dr Annette Boeckler, May 23, 2014

Severe issues of distrust between husband and wife are what the haftarah is all about. She does not speak with him any more and he speaks about her with their children: “A harlot is your mother! Please, kids, go and tell her. Tell her, I will strip her naked and I will make her like a wilderness.”

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Bechukkotai

By Rabbi Daniel Rowe, May 15, 2014

Bechukkotai opens with the potential blessing of the perfected world. It continues with the ominous warnings of the consequence of failure. Often missed is that it reveals the hitherto unspecified nature of the covenant itself.

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Behar

By Lindsay Simmonds, May 9, 2014

This week’s sidrah is peppered with references to the Land of Israel, and the underlying covenant between God and the Jewish people which enables Jews to live there.

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Emor

By Rabbi Josh Levy, May 2, 2014

The Torah is quite explicit. For 36 offences, the prescribed punishment is death. Yet while the Torah demanded it, the rabbinic exercise all but removed the death penalty from Jewish law. 

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