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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



By Rabbi Dr Michael Harris, June 21, 2012

A famous midrash suggests that Korah gained impetus for his rebellion by highlighting the commandment of tzitzit. Korah dressed 250 men in a tallit made entirely of techelet, the turquoise thread placed at the corners of a garment in order to fulfil the mitzvah of tzitzit. Korah and his followers asked Moses whether such a tallit required techelet on its corners.


Shelach Lecha

By Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris, June 14, 2012

Some of my clearest early memories of Shabbat are of sitting in morning services next to my father reciting this passage. He would wrap his tzitzit around his forefinger, press them to the page of his siddur, then bring them to his lips and kiss them. He would then reach over and let me kiss them as well. I remember clearly the longing to grow up and have my own tzitzit to treasure.



By Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman, June 7, 2012

The Jewish people complained that the manna which God had provided was insufficient compared to the delicacies of fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic they had enjoyed in Egypt. Yet this was not the first time the Jewish people had erred.



By Rina Wolfson, May 31, 2012

At the end of this week’s parashah the Tabernacle is completed and sanctified. For twelve consecutive days, each tribe offers a sacrifice of dedication at the altar. Every day, a new tribe brings its offering, until all twelve have been represented. Each of these twelve sacrifices is listed in minute detail, even though the offerings are all exactly the same.



By Dr Erica Brown, May 24, 2012

How did the Levites know when to take down the Tabernacle and when to put it up? Rashi cites an ancient midrashic tradition that the great cloud that protecting the encampment would move, thus signalling the time when the campsite was to be dismantled and move. In other words, we followed a cloud.