Sidrahs

Tzav

By Rabbi Yoni Sherizen, April 2, 2009

“This is the law of the sin-offering; in the place where you slaughter the elevation-offering, you shall slaughter the sin-offering, before God — it is most holy” Leviticus 6:18

Sharing with a student the section of our Torah which challenges me most, I received an unexpected response: “This may be difficult, but surely the elaborate sections about animal sacrifices are much more complex.” Indeed, the lengthy discussions of sacrifices that fill much of these weekly Torah portions are difficult to digest, but a closer look at one verse reveals a profound and eternal message.

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Vayikra

By Dr Leya Landau, March 26, 2009

“If a person will sin: if he accepted a demand for an oath, and he is a witness — either he saw or knew — if he does not testify, he shall bear his sin” Leviticus 5:1

The injunction in this week’s parashah not to withhold testimony from a court of law serves to underline the responsibility that Jewish law places on the witness to a crime in maintaining the strictest standards of justice. Yet the Torah understands that the obligations of a witness are complex and can be fraught with difficulty.

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Vayakhel-Pekudei

By Rabbi Chaim Weiner, March 19, 2009

“They shall eat the flesh that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs. Do not eat from it raw or in any way cooked in water” Exodus 12:8-9

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Ki Tissa

By Rabbi Daniel Levy, March 12, 2009

“This is the statute of the Torah … take a red heifer” Numbers 19:2

“When you wish to determine their numbers, count them by letting each man give to God an atonement for his soul [the half-shekel] ” Exodus 30:12

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Terumah

By Rabbi Yoni Sherizen, February 26, 2009

“And let them make for Me a sanctuary so that I may dwell among them” Exodus 25:8

This week marks a fundamental shift in the content of our weekly Torah portions as we begin the story of the Tabernacle. Unfortunately, the change sees many people lose interest as they struggle to relate to the predecessor of the synagogue and its detailed composition. But here’s a way to appreciate the construction of the Tabernacle.

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Mishpatim

By Dr Leya Landau, February 18, 2009

“They saw the God of Israel, and under His feet was that which had the form of a sapphire brick, and was like the appearance of the heavens in purity” Exodus 24:10

The final chapter of Mishpatim — a parashah that, after the high drama at Sinai, deals mainly with the civil laws necessary for creating and maintaining a just society — concerns the ratification of the covenant between God and His people.

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Yitro

By Rabbi Chaim Weiner, February 12, 2009

In these days of recession and job insecurity it is worth pondering the value our tradition places on work. Work is more than a way to earn money. Work gives meaning to our lives. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai teaches that just as we are commanded to rest on the Sabbath, we are commanded to work during the week.

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Beshallach

By Rabbi Daniel Levy, February 5, 2009

“Moses moved Israel on [against their will] from the Red Sea [since they were busy collecting the spoils of Egypt]” Exodus 15:22

Rashi explains that the booty came from the Egyptian horses which were bedecked with gold, silver and gemstones. When this was washed up on the shore, the people were so engrossed that Moses had to cajole them to progress with their journey to receive the Torah at Sinai.

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Bo

By Rabbi Nancy Morris, January 29, 2009

“The Israelites had done Moses’ bidding and borrowed from the Egyptians objects of silver and gold, and clothing… they stripped the Egyptians” Exodus 12:35-36

Commentators on parashat Bo have long been fascinated by the implications of the Israelites “borrowing” the Egyptian gold and silver as they quickly flee Egypt. Of course, the gold and silver was not, or ever intended, to be “borrowed”. It was demanded and handed over, for as the text says, the Israelites “stripped” the Egyptians.

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Va’era

By Rabbi Yoni Sherizen, January 22, 2009

“And Moses spoke… but they did not listen to Moses because of impatience of spirit, and from their cruel bondage” Exodus 6:9

V In times of turmoil we often struggle successfully to manoeuvre even the simplest of challenges. Amid the stress and anxiety we face choices that are simple under normal circumstances but quite impossible when plagued with worries. But this challenge is not new.

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