Sidrahs

Bemidbar

By Maureen Kendler, May 30, 2008

“Take a census of the entire assembly of the children of Israel according to their families”
Numbers 1:2

The sidrah begins with a detailed census of the people, tribe by tribe, as they prepare a military campaign to take the land. Rashbam suggests that the purpose of this census was to count the men over the age of 20  for military service.

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Bechukkotai

By Rabbi Chaim Kanterovitz, May 23, 2008

“I will turn my face towards you and you will be struck down before your enemies” Leviticus 26:17

The Torah’s powerful words warn us of the punishment the Jewish people will receive if we abandon the mitzvot. Saadia Gaon interprets the beginning of this verse to mean that God will turn His anger towards us.

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Behar

By Dr Diana Lipton, May 16, 2008

“You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property for all time. Such may you treat as slaves. But as for your Israelite kinsman, no-one shall rule be’parech over the other”
Leviticus 25:46

Describing Israel’s slavery in Egypt, Exodus uses a term, be’parech, that occurs elsewhere only in this week’s parashah. Be’parech is equated with ruthlessness: “The Egyptians made the Israelites work ruthlessly” (Ex: 1:13).

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Emor

By Johnny Solomon, May 9, 2008

“You shall not profane My holy name, that I may be sanctified in the midst of the Israelite people”
Leviticus 22:32

According to the Talmud, there is only one sin that cannot be forgiven even if the sinner repents, fasts on Yom Kippur or is afflicted with suffering. This is the sin of chillul Hashem — profaning God’s name (Yoma 86a).

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Kedoshim

By Rabbi Daniel Glass, May 2, 2008

“You shall have correct scales, correct weights... I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt”
Leviticus 19:36

Sometimes it seems that, aside from a tiny minority of the brilliant, the outstanding and the famous, most of us are part of the vast sea of humanity, living out an unexceptional and insignificant existence.

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Seventh day Pesach

By Maureen Kendler, April 25, 2008

“Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her in dance with timbrels”
Exodus 15:20

This is clearly Miriam’s moment! It is the first time in the Torah Miriam is referred to as “a prophetess” and named in her own right, not as adjunct to her family members.

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Acharei Mot

By Rabbi Chaim Kanterovitz, April 18, 2008

“You must not act in the manner of the people of the land of Egypt”
Exodus 18:3

Rashi comments that, of all nations, Egypt had the worst moral decay. The Jewish people that dwelt in their midst were drawn to their decadent way of life. Thus, the Exodus is to be seen not only as a physical redemption but as a spiritual one as well. Had Israel remained a minute longer, the nation would have been spiritually lost.

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Metsora

April 11, 2008

“A woman with whom a man has carnal relations, they shall bathe in water and remain unclean until evening”
Leviticus 15:18

The functions of the mikveh, ritual bath, include conversion and preparation for Shabbat and festivals, but the mikveh is primarily associated with the purification of women following their menstrual period. In this regard, our parshah contains two surprises.

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Tazria

By Johnny Solomon, April 4, 2008

“The Cohen shall examine the affliction on the skin of his flesh”
Leviticus 13:3

A significant part of Parashat Tazria describes the laws relating to someone afflicted with the skin disease tzara’at. This affliction, regarded as a punishment from God for slander, demanded the careful examination by a Cohen (priest) who would determine whether the sufferer should be pronounced pure, be quarantined or be banished from the camp. As such, our rabbis state that only a Cohen can declare someone to be afflicted with tzara’at.

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