Sidrahs

Lech lecha

By Rina Wolfson, November 3, 2011

Throughout this week's parashah, God repeatedly assures Abraham that he will have many descendants, comparing them to the dust of the earth, and later to the stars in heaven. These metaphors have puzzled commentators for generations. Some read a historical reference into the images and suggest the two metaphors refer to the shifting fortunes of Abraham's descendants.

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Bereshit

By Rabbi Dr Michael Harris, October 19, 2011

In his classic essay "Majesty and Humility", Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik points to two midrashic homilies cited by Rashi's commentary to this verse. According to the first midrash, the dust from which man was formed came from the whole earth, its four corners. According to the second, the dust was taken from the future site of the altar in the Temple. Which midrashic view should we prefer?

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Shabbat Chol Hamo'ed Succot

By Rabbi Miriam Berger, October 11, 2011

The proximity of Succot to Yom Kippur in the Jewish calendar encourages us to find a theological link between the two holy days. Yom Kippur, our Day of Atonement, brings even the most disaffected Jews to repent (or at least brings them to synagogue).

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Yom kippur

By Rabbi Pinchas Hackenbroch, October 6, 2011

The book of Jonah is perhaps the focal point of the afternoon of Yom Kippur. The story is one we are all familiar with. The prophet Jonah is instructed by God to warn the people of Nineveh to turn back from their evil ways but his calls to them went unheeded and he attempts to flee from his divine mission.

He finds himself on a boat that is caught up in a fierce storm, raging unabated.

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Haazinu

By Rabbi Dr Charles Middleburgh, September 27, 2011

A cheder pupil once asked me, with an expression of great puzzlement on her face, why there was a bird sitting on top of the keter Torah, the Torah crown, in the Ark.

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Nitzavim-vayelech

By Sally Berkovic, September 22, 2011

Artscroll, Hertz, JPS, Koren or Soncino - every shul-goer has his or her preferred edition of the Five Books of Moses. The typeface variations, selection of commentaries, quality of the paper and accuracy of the English translation are just some of the issues a discerning reader considers. However, there is one constant - the Hebrew text remains the same.

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Ki tavo

By Rabbi Benjamin Rickman, September 15, 2011

For many people Judaism resembles TV in the 1950s. Judaism is black and white, dull, uninspiring, its rituals are old and we never quite reach spiritual satisfaction through them. Let me take you back to ancient Israel to the most colourful ritual that would have been in full swing this time of the year.

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Ki Tetzei

By Rabbi Miriam Berger, September 8, 2011

Hidden within the 72 mitzvot that Maimonides counts in Parashat Ki Tetzei is a commandment which highlights the two different styles of lawgiving. The Torah is made up of aggadah, the homiletic part of our literature, and halachah, the legalistic.

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Shoftim

By Rabbi Pinchas Hackenbroch, September 1, 2011

In this innocuous verse the Torah enshrines a fundamental law of honesty and integrity that has had a profound influence in business ethics and our outlook vis à vis the financial world.

The verse, taken at face value, prohibits a person moving the boundaries of his land, thereby usurping illegally the land of his neighbour.

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Re'eh

By Rabbi Dr Charles Middleburgh, August 25, 2011

As the Israelites prepare to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land, Moses seizes one final opportunity to set them on the right path, warning them both how they must behave and what they must avoid.

This Shabbat we also recite the blessing for Rosh Chodesh Ellul, the month which precedes the High Holy Days. Moses's warnings resonate across the millennia to impact upon us at this season.

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