Sidrahs

Vayetzei

By Rabbi Natan Levy, November 26, 2009

There are many ways of relating to the Divine, but it was Jacob who brought worship indoors. Abraham spoke to God on a mountain, Isaac found Him in the fields, but even when Jacob sleeps out in the rough, he calls that place the house of God.

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Toldot

By Rabbi Yisroel Fine, November 19, 2009

Who would relish the challenge of nurturing and parenting two such contrasting children? The Torah, however, spares Isaac and Rebecca nothing in exposing their deficiencies as parents in the education of Jacob and Esau.

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Chayei Sarah

By Rabbi Brian Fox, November 12, 2009

Why did Sarah die? Of the many possible correct answers, Modern Hebrew would confusingly respond “Poh kavur hakelev” (literally, “Here is where the dog is buried”).

Now why the exact burial place of a dog means“You have hit the nail on the head”, I just did not know until a colleague explained it to me as follows: “Everyone knows where people are buried. So, if you know where the dog is buried, you have rare information. You have truly hit the nail on the head”.

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Vayera

By Rabbi Gideon Sylvester, November 5, 2009

“My beloved” is the stunning expression used by the prophet Isaiah to describe God’s feelings for Abraham. Why such love? Maimonides tells us that Abraham was a philosopher who spent day and night studying every known religion until he settled on monotheism and founded the Jewish people.

Abraham personifies the highest form of Judaism because his religion was not tainted by any ulterior motives; he simply served God out of intellectual honesty; “He loved truth because it was truth.”

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Lech lecha

By Elaine Robinson, October 28, 2009

Almost out of the blue, at the beginning of Parashat Lech Lecha, God appears to Abraham, commands him to travel to the “promised land”, blesses him and promises him that he will become a great nation. However, the Torah never tells us why Abraham was chosen for this great task.

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Noach

By Rabbi Natan Levy, October 22, 2009

The snail-darter fish is smaller than a paperclip, yet Tennessee taxpayers spent £60 million to save it from extinction. Norway invested £25 million to carve a seed vault into frozen rock near the North Pole to store billions of seeds. Why do we care so much about preserving life in all its variants?

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Bereshit

By Rabbi Yisroel Fine, October 15, 2009

At the dawn of history, Adam in paradise is unable to resist one restriction, the tree of knowledge.

Yonatan ben Uziel comments that Adam hid, not because of his nakedness, but from fear and shame of his sin. But Adam had the courage to stay put and admit his guilt. He never fled from the garden: he had to be thrown out.

A generation later, the picture changes. Parents who compromise the word of God, and think that they can live in paradise on their own terms, stand aghast as they see their family torn apart, with brother killing brother.

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Shemini atzeret

By Rabbi Daniel Levy, October 8, 2009

“The convert, orphan and widow, who are in your cities, will come and eat and be satisfied” Deuteronomy 14:29

What is the greatest form of simchah (joy) that a person may experience? Getting married perhaps, or having children? Maimonides enlightens us: “There is no greater or more glorious joy than to bring joy to the hearts of poor people, orphans, widows and converts” (Rambam, Laws Megillah and Chanukah 2:17).

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Succot

By Rabbi Nancy Morris, October 1, 2009

Thus Zechariah presents his apocalyptic vision of Succot as the messianic end of days for all nations, the traditional haftarah reading for the first day of Succot. In it, he visualises the violent destruction of Jerusalem and the plagues that will harm the nations that destroyed it.

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Ha’azinu

By Rabbi Yoni Sherizen, September 22, 2009

A brief look into any Torah scroll this Shabbat reveals an instant surprise. In place of the standard paragraph layout found throughout the Torah, Ha’azinu is written in two distinct columns, like a poem or a song. Only one other place in the Torah shares this poetic layout, Shirat Hayam or Song by the Sea (Exodus 15: 1-19).

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