Sidrahs

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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Rosh Hashanah

By Dr Leya Landau, September 17, 2009

The Torah reading for the day of Rosh Hashanah opens with a moment of connection. After years of being unable to bear children, God remembers Sarah. She conceives and gives birth to Isaac. Rashi’s comment on this verse draws attention to the ambivalent verb “remembered” in this context. If God remembers Sarah now, are we to infer that there was a lapse, an empty desolate interim, during which she had, indeed, been forgotten?

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Nitzavim vayelech

By Rabbi Chaim Weiner, September 9, 2009

This is the point in the Torah narrative when Moses hands in his resignation and steps down from his role as the leader of the Jewish people. Why now? Rashi suggests three different explanations.

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Ki Tavo

By Rabbi Daniel Levy, September 2, 2009

Tzedakah, according to Rabbi Yisrael Lipschitz (1782-1860), should act as a safeguard to protect a person from arrogance: instead of people thinking they are wealthy through their own endeavours, regular giving will instil in them a sense of humility, in the recognition that it is God who has blessed them and they are purely a hired hand who must pay rent in the form of tzedakah.

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Ki Tetzei

By Rabbi Nancy Morris, August 24, 2009

The parashah of Ki Tetzei contains the largest concentration of mitzvot of any portion. One of these is the basis of the law of negligence. In Torah times, houses had flat roofs which could often be trod upon by animals or people. A parapet would be a simple way of ensuring that no one fell off the roof.

A key element of negligence law is proving a duty of care between the parties involved. What is so novel about this Deuteronomic law is that the Torah recognises any owner of a new house to have a duty of care to ensure the safety of any visitor to that house.

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Re’eh

By Dr Leya Landau, July 30, 2009

A verse near the beginning of this week’s parashah instructs the Israelites to seek out God’s Presence in the place that He will choose as the site of the Holy Temple – Mount Moriah in Jerusalem.

The tension implicit within this verse – between the Temple as a divinely designated place for an entire people, and the different journeys undertaken by individuals seeking a closer relationship with God – has been noted by many Torah commentators.

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Devarim

By Rabbi Nancy Morris, July 23, 2009

The more I am exposed to other cultures, the more I am convinced that we Jews are a group peculiarly partial to words. Non-Jewish friends have sometimes confessed a certain discomfort in the presence of Jewish families— ok, with my Jewish family — and the apparent constant bickering that prevents anyone of a more timid disposition to get in a word edgewise. To us it is just normal discussion.

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Mattot-Massei

By Rabbi Yoni Sherizen, July 16, 2009

This week we read a story which identifies a more nuanced form of criticism which plagued our ancestors and still exists in our community today. Just after collecting their spoils of war, the tribes of Reuben and Gad approach Moses with a request to remain on the east side of the Jordan along with their wealth. Moses objects, immediately reminding them that staying behind would be to abandon their brethren as they cross into the Promised Land to begin a new life and face real dangers.

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Chukat-balak

By Rabbi Chaim Weiner, July 2, 2009

This odd juxtaposition of these verses suggests a connection between Miriam’s death and the people’s thirst for water. The Midrash explains that as long as Miriam was alive, a well accompanied her, bringing water to the people in the desert. When Miriam died, the well dried up and disappeared. Like many things in life, as long as the well was there, no one paid attention to it. Only after it dried up did they realise how dependent they were on it. Until then, no one realised that it was Miriam who sustained the people during their long journey.

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