Sidrahs

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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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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