Sidrahs

Behar-Bechukkotai

By Rabbi Dr Michael Harris, May 17, 2012

Yom Ha'atzmaut fills me with unqualified joy. Yom Yerushalayim, celebrated tomorrow on Iyar 28, always makes me a little uneasy. To an extent, especially in Israel, it has become the festival of the religio-political "right", those who accord supreme importance to Jewish sovereignty over the whole Land of Israel and oppose territorial compromise under any circumstances.

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Behar-Bechukkotai

By Rabbi Dr Michael Harris, May 17, 2012

Yom Ha’atzmaut fills me with unqualified joy. Yom Yerushalayim, celebrated tomorrow on Iyar 28, always makes me a little uneasy. To an extent, especially in Israel, it has become the festival of the religio-political “right”, those who accord supreme importance to Jewish sovereignty over the whole Land of Israel and oppose territorial compromise under any circumstances.

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Emor

By Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris, May 10, 2012

When we first moved to our home, I decided to plant a kitchen garden. For better or worse, our house is situated such that it is our front garden which is south-facing and, hence, the better location to grow edible crops.

And so any visitor or passer-by will easily note that we are currently growing an array of edible crops in front of our suburban semi.

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Acharei-mot Kedoshim

By Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman, May 3, 2012

The Seir l'Azazel, or scapegoat, is one of the most perplexing rituals in the Torah. Two identical-looking goats are brought to the Temple on Yom Kippur. The High Priest conducts a lottery by putting his hands into an urn which contained two lots. One read l'Hashem, for God; the other l'Azazel, for Azazel.

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Tazria-Metzora

By Rina Wolfson, April 26, 2012

Tazria contains passages I have long struggled with. As the mother of baby daughters, it is painful to read that childbirth is somehow contaminating and that the birth of daughters is twice as contaminating as sons. Others share my discomfort. Abarbanel states flatly that the new mother "has committed no sin", while Nechama Leibowitz describes this ruling as "most perplexing".

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Shemini

By Dr Erica Brown, April 19, 2012

In the midst of verses about sacrifices and kosher and non-kosher animals, we find this incredible expression of unity and solidarity. When Aaron brought a collective sin offering, "the whole community came forward and stood before the Lord". Perhaps there is no other verse in the Torah that presents this expression of communal regret and communal accountability.

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Tzav

By Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman, March 29, 2012

The thanksgiving offering was brought by someone who had (for example) survived great danger, escaped captivity or recovered from a grave illness. The offering was accompanied by 40 loaves of four different types of bread (Leviticus 7:12, Talmud Menachot 77b).

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Vayikra

By Rina Wolfson, March 23, 2012

Parashat Hachodesh begins with the first commandment directed to the Israelites as a nation. They are commanded to designate Nisan as the first month and thereby institute a lunar calendar.

Commentators ask why the commandment to sanctify the months is included in this special pre-Pesach reading, rather than focusing solely on the later verses dealing specifically with the paschal sacrifice.

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Vayakhel-pekudei

By Dr Erica Brown, March 15, 2012

We recognise these words from the very first chapters of Genesis. God spent six days creating heaven and earth, finished the work and then rested. He blessed the Sabbath day, made it holy and asked the rest of us to do the same.

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Ki tissa

By Rabbi Dr Michael Harris, March 8, 2012

In order to count the people, this week's sidrah famously states, each person is to give a half shekel and that is to be counted.

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