Acharei mot– keodshim

By Dr Leya Landau, April 30, 2009

The main subject of Acharei-Mot is the instructions given to Aaron, the High Priest, concerning the Yom Kippur service. This is preceded by its opening verse which revisits the death by fire of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu.



By Rabbi Chaim Weiner, April 23, 2009

“The owner of the house shall come and tell the priest, saying, ‘Something like a plague has appeared upon my house’” Leviticus 14:35



By Rabbi Daniel Levy, April 16, 2009

“I am the Lord who has brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God. So you shall be holy, because I am holy” Leviticus 11:45

Dayan Isidor Grunfeld, in his book Dietary Laws, explained that the three strongest natural instincts in man are the impulses for food, sex and the pursuit of material wealth. The strongest of these three impulses is food; it is no coincidence that the first prohibition given to Adam and Eve was not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge.


Chol hamoed pesach

By Rabbi Nancy Morris, April 7, 2009

On Shabbat of Chol Hamo’ed Pesach, the British Reform Movement has chosen a different reading from the above, which is taken from the Orthodox lectionary. I can understand why Reform has chosen Exodus 13, where the discussion of the festival is far more extensive. The more common traditional reading is barely concerned with Pesach at all. But how much more sublime is this reading, containing within it the oft-repeated description of God, known as the thirteen attributes of God.



By Rabbi Yoni Sherizen, April 2, 2009

“This is the law of the sin-offering; in the place where you slaughter the elevation-offering, you shall slaughter the sin-offering, before God — it is most holy” Leviticus 6:18

Sharing with a student the section of our Torah which challenges me most, I received an unexpected response: “This may be difficult, but surely the elaborate sections about animal sacrifices are much more complex.” Indeed, the lengthy discussions of sacrifices that fill much of these weekly Torah portions are difficult to digest, but a closer look at one verse reveals a profound and eternal message.



By Dr Leya Landau, March 26, 2009

“If a person will sin: if he accepted a demand for an oath, and he is a witness — either he saw or knew — if he does not testify, he shall bear his sin” Leviticus 5:1

The injunction in this week’s parashah not to withhold testimony from a court of law serves to underline the responsibility that Jewish law places on the witness to a crime in maintaining the strictest standards of justice. Yet the Torah understands that the obligations of a witness are complex and can be fraught with difficulty.



By Rabbi Chaim Weiner, March 19, 2009

“They shall eat the flesh that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs. Do not eat from it raw or in any way cooked in water” Exodus 12:8-9


Ki Tissa

By Rabbi Daniel Levy, March 12, 2009

“This is the statute of the Torah … take a red heifer” Numbers 19:2

“When you wish to determine their numbers, count them by letting each man give to God an atonement for his soul [the half-shekel] ” Exodus 30:12



By Rabbi Yoni Sherizen, February 26, 2009

“And let them make for Me a sanctuary so that I may dwell among them” Exodus 25:8

This week marks a fundamental shift in the content of our weekly Torah portions as we begin the story of the Tabernacle. Unfortunately, the change sees many people lose interest as they struggle to relate to the predecessor of the synagogue and its detailed composition. But here’s a way to appreciate the construction of the Tabernacle.



By Dr Leya Landau, February 18, 2009

“They saw the God of Israel, and under His feet was that which had the form of a sapphire brick, and was like the appearance of the heavens in purity” Exodus 24:10

The final chapter of Mishpatim — a parashah that, after the high drama at Sinai, deals mainly with the civil laws necessary for creating and maintaining a just society — concerns the ratification of the covenant between God and His people.