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First day, second month …
Year two since leaving Egypt …
Intermission’s done —
This week we begin the fourth of Moses’s five books. But it’s been just a little more than a year since our ancestors crossed the parted waters of the Sea of Reeds, and only one month since the Tabernacle was set up at th [...]
Numbers 1:1 to 4:20
This week we begin a Book of Torah with two common titles … a Hebrew title – B’midbar (in the wilderness) and an English title – Numbers. Each give us a different perspective to the Book.
Like many portions of Torah… and the titles of the Books… the name is based on the first words or thoughts of the text. The title “Numbe [...]
The faithful are blessed …
The faithless suffer curses …
But still, forgiveness —
Bechukotai begins with blessings (Leviticus 26:3-9):
“If you follow My laws and faithfully observe My commandments … I will look with favor upon you … and I will maintain My covenant with you … “
Then warns [...]
B’har – Leviticus 25:1 to 26:2
B’chukotai – Leviticus 26:3 to 27:34
The Sabbatical year (every 7 years) and Jubilee Year (every 50 years) are explained. The comments that follow show the effects of these celebrations on the people of Israel.
Again we have a double portion. These parshot conclude the book of Leviticus. B’har presen [...]
Contact with the dead …
Forbidden for Kohanim …
Except for close kin —
“God said to Moses: Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: None shall defile himself for any dead among his people, except for the relatives that are closest to him: his mother, his father, his son, his daughter, [...]
Leviticus 21:1 to 24:23
This portion contains one of only two narrative episodes found in Leviticus. This story, about a man who spoke the Lord’s name in blasphemy. Although his punishment – the death penalty – may seem severe, we find many legal traditions rooted in the story.
“The Eternal One said to Moses: Speak to the priests, the s [...]
Seeking holiness …
In how we behave each day …
The “code” is found here —
The chapters of Torah often called “The Holiness Code” begin in this week’s double portion. So called because of the numerous repetitions of the phrase “You shall be holy”, it includes many ethical comm [...]
Acharei Mot – Leviticus 16:1 to 18:30
K’doshim – Leviticus 19:1 to 20:27
These two combined parshot are roughly in the center of Torah and sum up the message of Torah…. K’doshim begins the Holiness Code which tells how mankind should act as individuals and as a community.
The two parshot read this week are one of seven pairs [...]
When things just aren’t right …
Some ritual is required …
To get back on track —
This week’s haiku was inspired by what Anita Silvert wrote on her blog, Jewish Jems, for this portion. She puts a new spin on the idea of being tamei (impure), comparing it to being “in a foul mood, an impure psychological sta [...]
Tazria Leviticus 12:1 to 13:59
M’tzora – Leviticus 14:1 to 15:33
The text describes a disease similar to Leprosy. Even though there is no mention of gossip or lashon hara (negative speech) in this week’s text, commentators have tied this ailment to the sin of gossip/ lashon hara.
This week we read a double portion. After reading these [...]
Aaron and his sons …
Eleazar and Ithamar …
Forbidden to mourn —
[After the deaths of Nadav and Abihu] Moses said to Aaron and to his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not bare your heads and do not rend your clothes, lest you die and anger strike the whole community. But your kinsmen, all the house of Israel, [...]
Leviticus 9:1 to 11:47
Two major events occur during this portion – The deaths of Aaron’s sons during the consecration of the Tabernacle… and the presentation of the Dietary Laws. Both are presented without explanation.
Like other portions of Torah, this week’s title comes from one of the first words of the text… “On the eighth day (of the co [...]