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?



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.


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).



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.



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).


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?


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.


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.


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.



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.