June 1, 2016

“O Hope of Israel! O Lord!” Jeremiah 17:13

When the Romans burnt the Temple, many Jews must have despaired. Where now were the rituals and sacrifices that could reconcile them with God? So when Rabbi Akiva proclaimed "Happy are you, O Israel!", they probably thought he was mad.



By Rabbi Daniel Roselaar, May 26, 2016

The biblical laws governing the sale ofland in Israel appear in this week's sidrah and the Israelites were commanded that they
were not permitted to sell real estate in perpetuity. Rather, every 50th year, when the Jubilee was celebrated, all land had to return to its original owner families.



By Dr Lynndy Levin, May 20, 2016

Parashat Emor introduces the dimension of sacred time into the holy space of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle. The Jewish people had been physically involved in building a dwelling-place for God.



By Rabbi Larry Tabick, May 12, 2016

Kedoshim is sometimes called the Holiness Code, because holiness is a key concept within this sidrah. This holiness takes on a decidedly ethical tone, as in this verse, though there is ritual, too. At the level of peshat, the plain meaning, this text is clearly about kindness towards strangers.

In rabbinic literature, this principle was applied to converts to Judaism.


Acharei Mot

By Maureen Kendler, May 5, 2016

This is the origin of the idea of the scapegoat. There were two goats as part of this ritual, one for God and one to be sent away called "Azazel". The Azazel goat that is sent away to absolve all the sins of the people in this compelling and strange ritual is a very powerful, and almost sinister, symbol.


Eighth Day

By Rabbi Mark Solomon, April 27, 2016

One of the things that unites Jewish communities around the world is that we read the same passage from the Torah each week. Chanted in full, in Orthodox synagogues, or read more slowly, abridged and translated in Progressive ones, we keep in step as we make our yearly way through the Torah.

When Eighth Day Pesach falls on Shabbat, however, the unity frays a little.


First day Pesach

By Rabbi Daniel Roselaar, April 21, 2016

Pharaoh had remained steadfast in his refusal to release the Israelites, despite the disarray that must have existed in his country in the wake of the first nine plagues.



By Dr Lynndy Levin, April 14, 2016

The parashah deals with the laws of impurity (tumah) and purity (taharah) in relation to the metzora - the tzara'at sufferer.

Mishnah Taharot states that the most severe form of tumah is conveyed by a human corpse. Similarly, the white lesion on the skin of the metzora signals something has died or gone subtly wrong in the micro-systems of the body.



By Rabbi Larry Tabick, April 7, 2016

Most of Tazria deals with a variety of skin complaints. In each case, a priest was to come, make a diagnosis and then take action to isolate the diseased part or individual, if required. Of interest perhaps to dermatologists, the rest of us - me included - struggle to find some spiritual meaning in this.

But then I remembered the enigmatic Sefer Yetzirah, "Book of Formation".



By Maureen Kendler, March 31, 2016

I am sorry I can't eat a hoopoe. I don't know what it is, but I would have enjoyed asking for it in the supermarket.

The categories for forbidden animals and fish are laid out in this sidrah but the criteria for birds is less clear. There are just lists of what can and cannot be eaten and the rabbis had to work out the connective factors.