Sidrahs

Lech Lecha

By Rabbi Jeremy Bruce, October 25, 2012

Perhaps the most curious aspect of Abraham’s appointment as the first of our forefathers is the question why he was chosen in the first place. The Torah gives us no biographical sketch to indicate why he is asked to leave his home and begin a new religion in the Land of Israel.

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Noach

By Rabbi Rebecca Qassim Birk, October 18, 2012

I love rainbows. They always cause a frisson of excitement in my house every time one glimpses the watery stripes in the sky. Children learn their colours from those painted streaks, and only discover later that it’s actually refracted light on meeting moist air. Despite the scientific explanation, it appears magical each time.

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Bereshit

By Rabbi Daniel Beller, October 11, 2012

When man takes to the stage in the first chapter of Bereshit, he is described as being created in the image of God. Owing to traditional Judaism’s rejection by and large of the notion of a corporeal God, commentators are at variance as to what this phrase could possibly mean.

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Shabbat Chol Hamo'ed Succot

By Rabbi Dr Michael Harris, October 10, 2012

A tradition as long and rich as Judaism inevitably contains opposing trends regarding some major issues. A case in point is asceticism, severe abstinence from the pleasures of the body and this world.

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Ha'azinu

By Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris, September 27, 2012

Here the term tzur, rock, is a casus pendens, a syntactical structure whereby the term the beginning of the sentence is syntactically independent of sentences that follow. Tzur stands alone at the beginning of this verse, its inherent qualities conveying the meaning of the term: strong, solid, unalterable, weighty.

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Vayelech

By Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman, September 20, 2012

This week’s portion describes the commandment of hakhel, meaning gathering. During hakhel, the King of Israel would read the book of Deuteronomy to the entire people in order to inspire the nation and stimulate love and fear of God.

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Nitzavim

By Rina Wolfson, September 13, 2012

the Israelites renewing their Covenant with God before entering the Promised Land. And in their experience, we find a message that is pertinent to our own.

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Ki Tavo

By Dr Erica Brown, September 7, 2012

This week’s sidrah contains curses, which are read in the synagogue in a whisper, and blessings, which are read out loud. All of the ancient Israelites were gathered together and the curses and blessings were read on two separate mountain tops, signifying the distance between a blessed and a cursed life. Which call will you answer?

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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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