Naso 5764-2004

"Our Brother, Our Sister--the Proselyte"

Parashat Naso contains a special law regarding making restitution to the proselyte--the righteous convert to Judaism. Converts have played, and continue to play, a key role in Jewish life. It is, therefore, not at all surprising that the mitzvah of loving and caring for the convert is mentioned 36 times in the Torah, more than any other mitzvah.

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Bamidbar 5764-2004

"Surviving the Wilderness"

Bamidbar--the wilderness--is not just an experience in the desert. The wilderness represents the challenge of Jews to survive in hostile environments and provides the keys for Jewish survival in those environments. Bamidbar teaches that the strength of family, the centrality of G-d and devotion to Torah are the elixirs of Jewish life.

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Behar-Bechukotai 5764-2004

"The Revolutionary Nature of Shemita and Yovel"

The first of the double portions, Behar, highlights the practice of Shemita--the Sabbatical year, and Yovel, the Jubilee celebration. These revolutionary ideas, from over 3300 years ago, were light-years ahead of their time, guaranteeing rest and rehabilitation for both people and land. Once again, the Torah shows its understanding for the critical need for universal education and the necessity for sacred time for family and for study, as well as the far-sighted vision of a system that provided for a more equitable distribution of wealth among all the inhabitants of the land.

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Emor 5764-2004

"The Blasphemer - A Midrashic View"

One of the highlights of parashat Emor is the blasphemer, the son of an Israelite woman and an Egyptian father who, as a result of a quarrel, blasphemes in the name of G-d. The blasphemer is ultimately put to death. This harsh sentence is difficult to understand. The Midrash, however, fills in the details, explaining what the blasphemer did, linking his crime to his past.

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Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 5764-2004

"The Jewish Attitude Towards Sexuality"

The two Torah portions that are read in this weekly portion discuss many laws pertaining to sexuality. Study of these rules proves that Judaism focuses not on repression, but on control and balance.

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Tazria-Metzorah 5764-2004

"Circumcision and Shabbat"

When the prescribed day for a circumcision falls out on the Shabbat, which commandment takes precedence? In the answer found in parashat Tazria, we discover the true essence of both these mitzvot, and how they each bind us to G-d and to eternity.

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Shemini 5764-2004

"With the Lord as Our Partner"

On the final day of the ceremony marking the consecration of Aaron and his sons, Aaron blesses the people. His blessing expresses the hope that our human efforts, combined with Divine intervention, will be successful, and that we will unite with G-d in a partnership under the banner of a common purpose.

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Chol Hamoed Pesach 5764-2004

"With G-d as Our Partner"

If the Egyptian magicians were able to replicate some of the plagues G-d visited upon Egypt, why couldn't they remove any of the plagues that G-d sent? Was Moses the agent of G-d who brought about the plagues, or was he more than that? Through the Biblical text, an interesting lesson is learned about the true nature of leadership.

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Tzav 5764-2004

"Making the Menial Hallowed and Mundane Holy "

Examining the priestly service, we find something rather perplexing: the holy Cohanim who are engaged in honorable rites with much pomp and circumstance, begin the holy service with a decidedly menial duty each morning. The first service of the day involves removing and transferring the day-old waste of yesterday's ashes. This act not only serves to keep a priest's ego in check, it also teaches a valuable lesson about how truly important the "small stuff" really is.

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Vayikra 5764-2004

"Insights for the Contemporary Soul from Ancient 'Primitive' Rituals"

As we begin Vayikra, the book of the Torah pertaining to the priestly service and the Temple sacrifices, we see how relevant these ancient laws are to our lives, even in contemporary times. The mandatory sacrifice brought after an unintentional sin, demonstrates that the root to repentance is awakening from apathy.

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Vayakhel-Pekudei 5764-2004

"Celebrating the Month of Nisan"

The Jewish month of Nisan, the first month that was celebrated by Israel after the birth of the Jewish nation, is heralded each year by an additional reading from the Torah on Shabbat HaChodesh. This special Shabbat serves as a reminder to Jews that G-d grants His people solace in times of grief, support in the face of challenge, and light in the darkest of hours. The month of Nisan signals that redemption and renewal are in the air.

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Kee Tisah 5764-2004

"Limitless Leadership"

After the people of Israel are unfaithful to G-d and worship the Golden Calf at the foot of Mount Sinai, Moses, the paradigmatic selfless leader, stands up for his people and demands that they be forgiven. His love for Israel is total and unswerving, even to the point of making the ultimate sacrifice on their behalf. As a doting "shepherd" concerned for the needs of his flock, Moses cares for this stiff-necked nation that was recently introduced to freedom.

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Tetzaveh 5764-2004

"Keeping the Priests Humble"

The detailed description of the priestly garments, reflects lives thoroughly devoted to the service of G-d. While their vestments are royal and holy, they are, in essence, quite humbling, connoting accountability and responsibility. The sanctity and complexity of the priestly garments, reveal the multifaceted nature of the priests' lives, that are at once privileged and charged with awesome responsibility.

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Terumah 5764-2004

"Being Transported by Torah"

Within the instructions regarding the fashioning of vessels of the Tabernacle, a timeless lesson regarding the Torah is to be found. Since the Torah is always to be portable, Jews have been able to bring it with them no matter where they journeyed. Yet any notion that Jews have about sustaining the Torah throughout the years is a delusion. It is the Torah that supports those who cling to it.

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Mishpatim 5764-2004

"The Al-mighty's Concern for the Dignity of the Human Being"

The Torah teaches that a person who steals an ox or a sheep and then slaughters or sells the stolen animal, must pay the value of five oxen in place of the ox, and four sheep in place of the sheep. Why is there such a stiff penalty for stealing these particular animals, and why is there a greater penalty for the theft of an ox as opposed to a sheep?

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Yitro 5764-2004

"Why G-d Cannot Share the Limelight"

G-d chose to speak directly to the People of Israel when He pronounced the first two statements of the Ten Commandments. These two directives set a path of exclusive monotheistic worship for the Jewish people. These words also created a foundation of moral absolutes in the world, as well as a demand for the ethical behavior expected of those created in G-d's image.

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B’shalach 5764-2004

"The Malbim Teaches the Lessons of the Manna"

From the life of the Malbim, the great 19th century Torah commentator, as well as from his brilliant and complicated explication of the "manna" that the Jewish people were given to eat in the wilderness, we find reminders of G-d's continuous support. Sustenance is always sent from the Al-mighty, whether it overtly rains from heaven, or comes in a more subtle manner.

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Bo 5764-2004

"The More Things Change..."

In the last moments of their sojourn in the Egyptian land that held them in bondage for hundreds of years, the Jews are told to gather gold and silver from their former Egyptian masters. To the casual observer it appears that the Jews are vengefully looting Egypt. Perhaps, though, the fulfillment of this command represents the mental journey that the Jews must travel from slavery to freedom. The looting of Egypt and its repercussions, are felt to this day.

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Va’eira 5764-2004

"The Names of G-d and Their Meanings"

The names of G-d are many, each revealing to the world a different aspect of the Creator. In this parasha, the universe's understanding of G-d is heightened by Moses to a level never before conceived, even by the patriarchs. After Moses, the world's notion of G-d is never to be the same again.

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Shemot 5764-2004

"The Message of the Burning Bush"

Why does G-d choose to reveal Himself to the world's greatest prophet from the midst of a burning bush? What lessons reside in the endowments of a small thornbush that are reflected in the manifestation of the Divine presence? It is a message of humility on G-d's part, and a means of elevating all of His people.

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Vayechi 5764-2004

"Can It Be a Mitzvah to Lie?"

When Joseph's brothers come to seek forgiveness from him, a battle of "truth" versus "peace" takes place. The meaning of these two values goes from absolute to relative, leaving the ethical fabric of the world to appear tattered and threadbare, without the proper perspective.

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