Sidrahs

Bereshit

By Rabbi Daniel Levy, October 23, 2008

"Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel"
Genesis 4:1

How much is really enough? Cain was the master of agriculture - real estate and property. Abel, having declined to work the land, for it had been cursed, was an expert shepherd - commodities and tradable assets.

The entire planet earth lay before them. Each was ready to build financial dynasties for the rest of mankind. All descendants would either be from the real estates and property family (Cain) or the commodities and tradable assets family (Abel).

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Ha’azinu

By Rabbi Chaim Kanterovitz, October 6, 2008

"My lesson shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distill as the dew, as rains upon the grass, and as showers upon herbs" Deuteronomy 32:2

The midrashic anthology, the Yalkut Shimoni, commenting on the above verse, says that one should gather the words of Torah just as rain is gathered into a pit. In order to teach Torah to others, it is not sufficient to posses a partial knowledge or sparse understanding of Torah.

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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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