Sidrahs

Lech Lecha

By Lindsay Simmonds, October 11, 2013

Lech Lecha follows the journeying of Abraham and Sarah, specifically their discovery of monotheism and their attempt to spread it. They are, it seems, told to find themselves, away from the confines of their upbringing. Ironically, this journey is a forced exile, rather than a jubilant or self-initiated one.

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Noach

By Rabbi Josh Levy, October 3, 2013

The early rabbis, ever creative, imagine the raven arguing with Noah when he tries to send it out of the ark. Understandably reluctant to face the waters, it asks why Noah does not instead send one of the clean birds, of which seven pairs of each kind are happily aboard the ark.

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Bereshit

By Rabbi Barry Lerer, September 24, 2013

Rashi comments that the plural form is used in the above verse, even though the angels did not assist God in creating man. He goes on to explain that even though in using the plural the Torah leaves itself open to heretical claims that many gods participated in the creation of man, nevertheless God wanted to teach a lesson in humility and derech eretz (respectful behaviour).

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Shabbat Chol Hamo'ed Succot

By Rabbi Michael Pollak, September 17, 2013

As we reach the end of the sequence of festivals, which starts with Rosh Hashanah and then climaxes with Yom Kippur, only to soar again with the festival of Succot, it is worth reflecting on the drama and theatre which was played out in the Temple over those days.

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Yom Kippur

By Rabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand, September 12, 2013

The book of Jonah ends strangely with a question, which perhaps explains why the rabbis chose it at the last biblical source we chant before entering the home stretch of Yom Kippur. In many ways, this story is an odd choice for Yom Kippur; Jonah is not exactly an inspiring role model for repentance.

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Ha'azinu

By Rabbi Jeremy Bruce, September 3, 2013

It’s all too easy to forget God when life is going well. Our rich, comfortable, materialistic society allows us little time for a deep connection with God. If the well-known saying that “there are no atheists in the foxholes” is true, then the opposite is just as accurate.

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Nitzavim-Vayelech

By Rabbi Rebecca Qassim Birk, August 29, 2013

When people ask me to summarise my approach to Jewish practice, I almost always direct them to Deuteronomy 11-14. This passages capture the audacious democracy that lays at the heart of Judaism. No one else — and certainly no rabbi — can negotiate it on behalf of another. No one can fulfil our obligations or responsibilities.

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Ki Tavo

By Rabbi Daniel Beller, August 23, 2013

Is serving God without joy reason enough for the warnings of the great rebuke (Deuteronomy 28:15-69) to be unleashed on the Jewish people? Evidently yes. But how are we to understand the gravity of this offence?

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Ki Tetzei

By Rabbi Michael Pollak, August 16, 2013

This verse is one of the few in the Torah which deals with the ethics of war in general and the status of enemy civilians in particular. It creates the unique category of the beautiful captive. We see in this instance that our behaviour during war varies from that of peace time.

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Shoftim

By Rabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand, August 9, 2013

Like a low-budget horror movie, we watch the Jewish people in Deuteronomy beg God to place a king over them. Remember, this is the people who have recently left Egypt, where they suffered as victims of a culture that elevated their leaders to serve as quasi-gods. So we know that once a society starts to equate human beings with powerful divine beings, corruption and tragedy are inevitable.

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