Sidrahs

Ki Tetzei

By Rabbi Dr Michael Harris, August 30, 2012

The term mamzer has no precise English equivalent. Hertz in his translation of the Chumash renders it “bastard”, but clarifies in his commentary that this “does not mean a child born out of wedlock, but the child of an adulterous or an incestuous marriage”.

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Shoftim

By Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris, August 23, 2012

Deuteronomy 20 relates the rules of warfare: who may fight, how to deal with a city that surrenders or how with one that does not. These regulations often jar with our modern sensibilities, perhaps none more so than those in verses 13-14, which relate how to deal with a conquered town.

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Re'eh

By Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman, August 17, 2012

Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra explains that God uses the parent-child relationship to engender within us the same feelings of love and adoration that a child experiences from its parents. Yet the Torah also compares us to servants of God which is clearly a very different type of relationship (Leviticus 25:55).

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Ekev

By Rina Wolfson, August 10, 2012

Hidden in this week’s parashah is a subtle lesson on successful leadership. Moses recalls his two attempts to receive the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, referring to the instructions God gives him after each episode.

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Va’etchanan

By Dr Erica Brown, August 6, 2012

In Moses’s farewell address to the Jewish people, he reviews their history and time together and offers them legal guidance for how life will change with a homeland. He also offers warnings lest the moral and spiritual fabric of the covenant become frayed with the temptations and distractions of land ownership.

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Devarim

By Rabbi Dr Michael Harris, July 26, 2012

The haftarah of Shabbat Chazon concludes, as haftarot usually do, on an optimistic note. Shabbat Chazon is normally the Shabbat preceding Tishah b’Av; this year it falls on the ninth of Av itself, with the fast postponed until Saturday night and Sunday.

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Mattot-Massei

By Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris, July 19, 2012

This week we read from the second of the t’lat d’furanuta, the three [haftarot] of affliction, that precede Tishah b’Av. Here Jeremiah exhorts the people to take notice of the mortal peril they face as a result of their spiritual and religious failures.

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Pinchas

By Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman, July 12, 2012

God commands Moses and Elazar to carry out a new census of the entire Jewish people. Although the list of tribal families may seem a little repetitive and dull, the statement that Asher’s daughter was Serach is a subtle and yet unusual deviation from the pattern.

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Balak

By Rina Wolfson, July 5, 2012

There are some curious similarities between Balaam and Abraham. Both are natives of Aram Naharaim and both embark on infamous missions which conclude in a surprising manner. Abraham expects to sacrifice his son but is blessed with numerous descendants. Balaam intends to curse the Israelites into oblivion, but issues a blessing that lasts for centuries.

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Chukkat

By Dr Erica Brown, June 28, 2012

Aaron has, arguably, the most formal and visible death scene in the Bible. He is taken by Moses to the top of Mount Hor with his son, Eleazar, in the presence “of the whole community”. He died on the mountain’s summit.

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