Sidrahs

Tazria-Metzora

By Rabbi Rebecca Qassim Birk, April 11, 2013

A challenging double portion, consumed with skin complaints, house mould, impurity and far removed from our own experience. The affliction of leprosy, tzara’at, appears in both the associated haftarot; while Metzora’s (read this week) tells of the four starving lepers during the siege of Samaria, the haftarah for Tazria is about Na’aman.

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Shemini

By Rabbi Daniel Beller, April 8, 2013

The balance between personal expression and structured ritual has been one of the key tensions in the religious experience. Those favouring the former will stress the importance of authenticity and intention in what one does, questioning the value of simply following a set pattern of observance.

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Shabbat Chol Hamo'ed Pesach

By Rabbi Michael Pollak, March 29, 2013

In general, it is fair to characterise the Torah commentators of the Middle Ages such as Rashi, Avraham ibn Ezra or Ramban as looking to provide the real meaning of the text.

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Tzav

By Rabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand, March 21, 2013

Elijah, the prophet invoked by the final verses of the haftarah for Shabbat Hagadol, is closely associated with the Pesach Seder. Towards the end of this well-known ritual, we open the front door wide to him into our home.

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Vayikra

By Rabbi Jeremy Bruce, March 15, 2013

For many people the sacrificial laws are particularly difficult to relate to and understand. This startling anthropomorphic verse is no exception. How can the Torah suggest that God smells the aroma of roasting meat, enjoys the sensation and, as a result, accepts the sacrifice?

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Vayakhel-Pekudei

By Rabbi Rebecca Qassim Birk, March 7, 2013

Nediv means generous, inclined, willing, even noble in behaviour. As in parashat Terumah, Moses talks here of gifts and instructs that the sanctuary will be constructed from donations. Not obligatory offerings but those given with a willing heart and spirit.

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Ki Tissa

By Rabbi Daniel Beller, March 4, 2013

The construction of the golden calf has been interpreted by thinkers such as Rabbi Yehuda Halevi, in his famous work, The Kuzari, as a powerful expression of the closeness that the Children of Israel sought to have with God. Their intention was noble, but its expression crossed the boundaries of what was acceptable in God’s eyes and law.

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Tetzaveh

By Rabbi Michael Pollak, February 21, 2013

The Battle of Refidim is one of the epic stories of the Chumash. The Jewish people were marching through the desert with their womenfolk, children and elderly when the Amalekites attacked out of the blue. Initially, it does not go well but Moses, supported by his brother Aaron and his sister Miriam’s son, Hur, ascend a nearby mountain.

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Terumah

By Rabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand, February 14, 2013

This word, keruvim, sometimes translated as Cherubim, is used in only two places in the Chumash: to describe the statues guarding the Holy Ark (above) and the creatures protecting the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24): What is the connection between the Ark and the Garden of Eden, both of which merit the protection of these special creatures?

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Mishpatim

By Rabbi Jeremy Bruce, February 7, 2013

Any explanation of the Jewish dietary laws usually includes the concept of self-control. We are instructed to keep away from non-kosher food not because it is intrinsically bad but because restraint refines us, it makes us “holy”.

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