Sidrahs

Vayelech

By Dr Diana Lipton, September 29, 2008

"Take this Sefer Torah and place it beside the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, your God, and let it remain there as a witness be'cha" Deuteronomy 31:26

In a powerful photograph displayed at the Ellis Island immigration museum in New York City, a young boy stands on the deck of a ship just arrived from Eastern Europe at the turn of the century. In his arms is a Sefer Torah, the ultimate guarantor of continuity in uncertain times.

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Nitzavim

By Johnny Solomon, September 22, 2008

"Not with you alone do I make this covenant and this oath, but with whoever is here, standing with us today... and with whoever is not here with us today" Deuteronomy 29:13-14

On the last day of his life, Moses gathered the entire people to remind them of their responsibilities towards God, each other and future generations. Yet in order to understand what he said, we must refer back to another time when the whole people stood together.

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Ki Tavo

By Rabbi Daniel Glass, September 16, 2008

"And all these blessings will come upon you and overtake you" Deuteronomy 28:2

This world does not seem to be a place where the good are rewarded and the bad receive their "just desserts".

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Ki Tetzei

By Maureen Kendler, September 9, 2008

"And you see among the captives a woman of fair appearance, and you desire her and want her for a wife, then you shall bring her home to your house" Deuteronomy 21: 11-12

V Ki Tetsei concentrates on the rights of the disadvantaged who must be afforded dignity and protection. Women, orphans, slaves - even hanged criminals - fall into this category.

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Re’eh

By Dr Diana Lipton, August 27, 2008

"If there appears among you a prophet or a dream-diviner and he gives you a sign or a portent, saying, ‘Let us follow and worship another god', whom you have not experienced - even if the sign or the portent that he named comes true, do not heed the words of that prophet or dream-diviner. For the Lord, your God is testing you to see whether you love the Lord, your God with all your heart and soul" Deuteronomy 13:2-4

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Ekev

By Jonny Solomon, August 18, 2008

"Him shall you serve, and to Him shall you cleave" Deuteronomy 10:20
"To walk in all his ways, and to cleave to Him" Deuteronomy 11:22

On two occasions in Parashat Ekev, the Torah demands that we cleave to God, yet in neither case does it define how this may be achieved. Given that the Torah describes God as "a consuming fire" (Deuteronomy 4:24), how can we cleave to Him?

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Va’etchanan

By Rabbi Daniel Glass, August 12, 2008

"And you should love the Lord, your God with all your heart" Deuteronomy 6:5

Cupid's arrow sails rapidly through the air and strikes the unsuspecting heart. Without warning, you are in love.

If love - and feeling in general - is something that happens to me, something that emanates, seemingly randomly, from an external source, if I either feel something or I don't, then how can the famous second line of the Shema command me to "love"? What am I being asked to do - to decide to love?

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Devarim

By Maureen Kendler, August 4, 2008

"These are the words that Moses spoke" Deuteronomy 1:1

Words, words, words, as Hamlet might have said when reading this sidrah and indeed the whole of the Book of Devarim (Deuteronomy). And delivering them all is the singular speechmaker, the eloquent, passionate wordmeister, Moses.

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Massei

By Rabbi Chaim Kanterovitz, July 28, 2008

"These are the journeys of the children of Israel who left the land of Egypt"
Numbers 33:1

How odd, the commentator Malbim points out, that the Israelites' destination, the land of Israel, is not mentioned at all. Surely the intention of the Exodus was to take the Jewish people to the holy land and inhabit it? Why then is this not stated in the verse above?

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Mattot

By Dr Diana Lipton, July 21, 2008

"The Reubenites and the Gadites owned cattle in very great numbers"
Numbers 32:1

In this week's parashah, the Gadites and the Reubenites ask to stay on the "wrong side" of the Jordan to accommodate their many cattle (Numbers 32:5). According to Numbers Rabbah 22.8, these cattle were seized from the Midianites (Numbers 31:9). The Torah itself does not report this, but describes in detail how the Midianite booty was meticulously turned over to Moses for proper distribution. So what justifies the claim in Numbers Rabbah?

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