Sidrahs

Devarim

By Rabbi Brian Fox, July 15, 2010

Philo of Alexandra was one of many who realised that there are different types of journey. One can travel in one's mind and have one's body stay still. For Philo, Abraham's journey was just of this type. How often have we as a Jewish people changed our place, changed our style and changed our practices. There has always been the pull of Israel on us. The Zionist dream did not start with Herzl.

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Mattot-massei

By Rabbi Gideon Sylvester, July 8, 2010

What is the role of our religious leadership in developing a healthy society?

This week's portion teaches how someone who accidentally committed manslaughter would flee to a city of refuge, where he would be protected from angry relatives seeking to avenge the death of their loved ones. The killer would stay there till the death of the High Priest. Why was the killer's stay linked to the death of this religious leader?

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Pinchas

By Elaine Robinson, July 1, 2010

We read in this week's parashah that Zelophehad died leaving no sons. His five daughters approached Moses to ask if they could inherit the land of their father rather than it pass from their immediate family to a different clan. Moses enquired of God and was given the law for all time: if there are no male heirs, the women should inherit the land.

It is the method of the challenge that I find fascinating. The women had a legitimate request and wanted a ruling from Moses; they believed in the process.

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Balak

By Rabbi Natan Levy, June 24, 2010

Perhaps God is not the author of the Torah?

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Chukkat

By Rabbi Yisroel Fine, June 17, 2010

The title of this week's sidrah indicates that of the many mitzvot described as "statutes", that of the law of the red heifer is the paradigm for them all.

If the definition of a statute is a law for which there is no known reason, then the procedure of purification with the ashes of the red heifer appears to be truly incomprehensible. The person over whom they were sprinkled was rendered pure, while all those involved in the purification procedure were themselves rendered impure.

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Korach

By Rabbi Brian Fox, June 10, 2010

The great Jewish historian of ancient times Josephus tells of an event in his own lifetime which certainly reinforced the holiness of every person:

"There came to me from the region of Trachonitis [the site of a rebellion against King Herod while he was in Rome], two nobles, subjects of the king, bringing their horses, arms and money which they had smuggled out of the country. The Jews would have compelled them to be circumcised as a condition of residence among them.

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Shelach Lecha

By Rabbi Gideon Sylvester, June 3, 2010

Is it ever right to criticise Israel? It is a question that we confront every year as we read about the spies who went to investigate the Promised Land. They all reported that the country was beautiful, but most of them claimed that conquering it would be impossible. Their pessimism led to a national rebellion, leading God to ban that entire generation from entering Israel and condemning them to death in the desert.

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Beha'alotecha

By Elaine Robinson, May 27, 2010

The Israelites can be heard murmuring and grumbling about their situation pretty much from the beginning of their experience of freedom. They complain about the lack of water to drink, the standard of their food, and appear to harp back to the "good old days" of slavery in Egypt. Is this a profound case of Stockholm Syndrome, or was something else praying on the minds of the people at the time?

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Naso

By Rabbi Nathan Levy, May 21, 2010

No one likes to hear the same thing twice. No one likes to say the same thing twice. So the end of this week's sidrah is perplexing, even downright dull, with its twelve-fold repetition of the princely offerings to the Tabernacle. Each leader brings the same litany of gifts, each recorded in minute detail. What can we learn from repetition?

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Bemidbar

By Rabbi Yisroel Fine, May 13, 2010

There are societies in which personal freedom and aspirations are abrogated, human dignity and the value of human life are disregarded. By contrast there are those built upon personal freedom where human life and dignity are cherished as inalienable rights.
Yet individual freedom and choice may sometimes be abused at the expense of others. Where do we strike the balance? The command of Moses to count the heads of the Jewish people and take a census the Torah indicates the proper balance to be struck.

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