Sidrahs

Shelach Lecha

By Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris, June 14, 2012

Some of my clearest early memories of Shabbat are of sitting in morning services next to my father reciting this passage. He would wrap his tzitzit around his forefinger, press them to the page of his siddur, then bring them to his lips and kiss them. He would then reach over and let me kiss them as well. I remember clearly the longing to grow up and have my own tzitzit to treasure.

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Beha’alotecha

By Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman, June 7, 2012

The Jewish people complained that the manna which God had provided was insufficient compared to the delicacies of fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic they had enjoyed in Egypt. Yet this was not the first time the Jewish people had erred.

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Naso

By Rina Wolfson, May 31, 2012

At the end of this week’s parashah the Tabernacle is completed and sanctified. For twelve consecutive days, each tribe offers a sacrifice of dedication at the altar. Every day, a new tribe brings its offering, until all twelve have been represented. Each of these twelve sacrifices is listed in minute detail, even though the offerings are all exactly the same.

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Bemidbar

By Dr Erica Brown, May 24, 2012

How did the Levites know when to take down the Tabernacle and when to put it up? Rashi cites an ancient midrashic tradition that the great cloud that protecting the encampment would move, thus signalling the time when the campsite was to be dismantled and move. In other words, we followed a cloud.

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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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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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