Sidrahs

Ki Tissa

By Rabbi Barry Lerer, February 14, 2014

We often talk about someone being shomer Shabbat, meaning that they scrupulously observe all of the many laws pertaining to Shabbat. However, a closer understanding of this verse might reveal a different approach to what shomer Shabbat really means.

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Tetzaveh

By Dr Annette Boeckler, February 6, 2014

Haftarot chosen from the book of Ezekiel are not particularly rare but always strange.

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Terumah

By Rabbi Daniel Rowe, January 31, 2014

Perhaps the greatest conundrum of sidrah Terumah is the seeming incongruity of sliding from sublime revelation to a collection of construction materials. Israel emerged from Egypt, met God at Sinai and committed itself to the Covenant. Mishpatim ends with Moses re-entering the fiery realm where God’s Presence could be grasped. 

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Mishpatim

By Lindsay Simmonds, January 24, 2014

Possibly the most famous two words in the Torah, Na’aseh v’nishma (“We will we do, and we will listen”) have always evoked much commentary. But what can it mean to do God’s will before acquiring a thorough understanding of what God demands?

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Yitro

By Rabbi Josh Levy, January 16, 2014

The initial response of the Israelites to the events of Sinai is terror: confronted by thunder and lightning, smoke and the blaring of horns, they understandably back away from the mountain. Moses seeks to reassure them by explaining what is going on, but speaks not of revelation and law, but of divine test and awe. His words seem to do the trick, but what does his explanation actually mean?

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Beshallach

By Rabbi Barry Lerer , January 10, 2014

In Psalm 114, we read the description of how the Red Sea parted: “The sea saw and fled.” The rabbis ask, “What did the sea see to make it flee?” and they answer, “It saw the bones of Joseph!” (which the Children of Israel carried with them from Egypt).

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Bo

By Dr Annette Boeckler, January 2, 2014

“They are marching with an army”, “destroying the forest”, “more numerous than locusts”, and “cannot be counted”: so in this week’s haftarah the prophet Jeremiah describes the Babylonian army about to destroy the old Egyptian empire with Pharaoh “and those who trust in him”. And here it gets delicate.

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Va'era

By Rabbi Daniel Rowe, December 27, 2013

At some point in antiquity, the custom arose read the Torah in weekly portions, segmented along natural conceptual fault-lines. It seems somewhat curious that Va’era stops after the seventh of ten strikes against Egypt.

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Shemot

By Lindsay Simmonds, December 27, 2013

Sefer Shemot, The Book of Exodus, is the second book of the five making up the Chumash. Although often named Exodus, the Hebrew word shemot means “names”.

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Vayechi

By Rabbi Josh Levy, December 12, 2013

Why did Pharaoh allow Joseph to leave Egypt so easily? Was he not worried that Joseph would not return, or would set up an alternative power base in Canaan? Was he not offended that burial in Egypt was somehow not good enough for the father of his second-in command?

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