Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 5780-2020

"Who is Truly Religious?”
(Updated and revised from Parashiot Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 5761-2001)

Traditional “religious” Jews are often identified as those who scrupulously observe the “Big Three:” Shabbat, Kashrut and the laws of Family Purity. From parashiot Acharei Mot and Kedoshim we learn that this definition needs to be updated to include an ethical component–that one must be certain to behave and act honestly and morally, within all realms of life.

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Kedoshim 5779-2019

“The Revolutionary Idea of ‘Holiness’”
(Revised and updated from Kedoshim 5760-2000)

In parashat Kedoshim, we learn much about the revolutionary idea that the Torah introduced into civilization–-the concept of kedusha--“holiness.” As the Torah boldly declares, “You shall be holy, for I, the L-rd your G-d am holy.” Unless one subscribes to the belief that every human is holy and a reflection of the Divine, there is really no limit to the extent of depravity and immorality to which humans may sink.

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Lech Lecha 5774-2013

“Setting the Stage for the Jewish Future”

Our sages say that the deeds of the forefathers are signposts for the children. The story of Abraham and Sarah are truly predictive of both future Jewish history and contemporary Jewish life.

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Re’eh 5773-2013

"How Far Must We Go to Avoid Evil?"

How far must contemporary Jews go to separate from the “new paganism,” from the new evils that not only confront us, but seem bent on consuming us?

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Emor 5773-2013

"Sanctifying G-d’s Name"

Chilul Hashem, the profanation of G-d’s name, is one of the most severe sins a Jew can commit, while sanctifying G-d’s name is one of the greatest mitzvot a Jew can perform.

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Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 5766-2006

"Standing Idly By"

The double portions of Acharei Mot and Kedoshim contain almost one sixth of all the mitzvot in the Torah. The commandment found in parashat Kedoshim (Leviticus 19:16), not to stand by idly while the blood of our brother is shed, may not appear at first blush to be of great import. Yet, it is a fundamental principle that marks Judaism's significant departure from the jurisprudence systems of the entire world, indicating that a person's inaction can indeed be a significant and punishable violation.

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Lech Lecha 5766-2005

"Abraham, Father of the Jewish Nation"

Abraham plays such a key role in the development of the Jewish people and in the world arena that there are more chapters devoted to his life than to the creation of the world and to the previous 20 generations of humankind. It is Abraham's ethical and moral character that leads to Abraham being the chosen of G-d. The multi-talented Abraham becomes the religious and nationalistic leader of Israel, and the forefather who takes hold of the land of Israel/Canaan for the Jewish people.

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Lech Lecha 5764-2003

"A Scriptural Assessment of Lot"

Abraham's nephew, Lot, is perhaps the classic Biblical example of an "average Joe." With relatives who range from saintly to dastardly, it's no wonder that his deeds and descendants similarly run the broad moral spectrum.

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Matot-Masei 5763-2003

"The Massacre of the Midianites: Does Judaism Countenance Genocide?"

In parashat Matot, G-d tells Moses to mobilize the army of Israel and exact vengeance on the Midianites. The rabbis of old are troubled by this call. They explain that "genocide" was never countenanced by Jewish law, but rather that it was necessary to always first sue the enemy for peace and give them opportunity to flee if they refused to live in peace. Nevertheless, Jewish tradition teaches that one should not be overly compassionate, otherwise one will wind up being cruel at a time when compassion is appropriate.

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Naso 5763-2003

"The Hypocrite as Exemplar"

Why is the Torah portion concerning the person who fails to fulfill his religious obligation juxtaposed with the portion of the woman who is suspected of being unfaithful to her husband? From this unusual textual positioning we learn much about human nature. Providing a favorable example is far more impressive and effective than preaching.

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Acharei Mot 5763-2003

"The Jewish Method of Achieving Moral Perfection"

In parashat Acharei Mot, G-d exhorts the Jewish people to observe His decrees and His laws in order to live a sanctified life, a life of dignity and a life of meaning. But how does one live an ethical and moral life in a world that seems to be constantly drawing us away from good? Judaism's educational methodology has proven to be the most effective means of educating large numbers of people over long periods of time to ethical and moral living. Its secret is the rituals of Judaism that effectively prepare people for ethical and moral living.

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Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 5761-2001

"Who is Truly Religious?"

People often define a traditional Jew as one who keeps the "Big Three:" Shabbat, Kashrut and the laws of Family Purity. From parashat Kedoshim we can learn that this definition needs to be revised and updated to include an ethical component--that one must behave and act morally, especially within the realm of business.

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Kedoshim 5760 – 2000

"The Revolutionary Idea of Holiness"

In parashat Kedoshim we learn much about the magical and revolutionary idea that the Torah introduced into civilization-- the concept of "holiness." As the Torah says, "You shall be holy for I the L-rd your G-d am holy." Unless one subscribes to the belief that every human is holy and a reflection of the Divine, there is really no limit to the extent of depravity and immorality to which humans may sink.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes