Emor 5780-2020

“Death, and the Kohanim--the Children of Aaron”
(updated and revised from Parashat Emor 5762-2002)

In parashat Emor we learn that a Kohain/priest is only permitted to contaminate himself on the occasion of the death of one of his seven closest relatives. Rabbi Saul Berman maintains that the ancient priests, who acted as clergy, were not permitted to be involved with the dead so they not be in a position to exploit their vulnerable constituents at their time of bereavement. It may also be a way of showing that rather than relying exclusively on clergy, lay people should also reach out to their friends and acquaintances who are in need.

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

Tetzaveh 5780-2020

“The True Story of Purim”
(updated and revised from Tetzaveh 5761-2001)

The party that King Ahasuerus throws was not only to prove the King’s legitimacy as a monarch, but also to celebrate the destruction of the Jewish people, confirming that the prophecy of a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem would not be fulfilled. Incredible as it may seem, the Jews of Persia participated in the party with great enthusiasm. For the Jews to be spared from Ahasuerus and Haman, it was necessary for them to rise and to publicly affirm G-d’s supremacy.

Read More


0 Comments13 Minutes

Pinchas 5777-2017

"Pinchas and King David"

While both Pinchas and King David killed in the name of G-d to bring sanctity into G-d’s world, only Pinchas was rewarded immediately with the eternal covenant of the priesthood. King David, on the other hand, was denied the right to build the Temple in Jerusalem.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Chukat 5777-2017

“Moses’ Painful Words of Comfort”

During the moving ceremony marking the passing of his beloved brother Aaron, Moses forces himself to say words of comfort to Aaron that are personally devastating.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Tzav 5777-2017

“Lessons from the Ceremony of the Consecration of the כֹּהֲנִים—
the Priests”

From the ceremony of the consecration of the priests we learn that mitzvot must be performed with sincerity and full- hearted devotion.

Read More


0 Comments6 Minutes

Tetzaveh 5775-2015

“The High Priest Wears the Names of Israel on His Heart”

The commentators suggest that while the priestly vestments serve to identify a priest, they also represent important ideas and messages that are reflected in the garments and have bearing on the priests’ actions and duties.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Yitro 5775-2015

“I Shall Come to You and Bless You”

There are many important lessons to be learned from the verse in parashat Yitro: “Wherever I cause My Name to be mentioned, I shall come to you and bless you.”

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

Matot-Masei 5773-2013

“Pinchas Avenges the Midianites”

Why is the zealous Pinchas chosen to lead the people of Israel into battle against the Midianites?

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 5773-2013

"The Sanctity of The Holy of Holies"

What is the role, function and mystique of the “Holy of Holies?”

Read More


0 Comments10 Minutes

Korach 5772-2012

"Jealousy, Lust, and Thirst for Honor"

There is a remarkable confluence between the story of Korach and the statement of Rav Elazar Ha’Kapar that is recorded in Mishnah Avot: “Envy, lust and obsessive desire for glory, remove a person from this world.”

Read More


0 Comments10 Minutes

Tetzaveh 5772-2012

"Where is Moses?"

Since the entire design and execution of the Tabernacle was done under the supervision of Moses, it is particularly surprising that the name of Moses does not appear, even once, in parashat Tetzaveh.

Read More


0 Comments10 Minutes

Pekudei 5771-2011

"The Meaning of the Priestly Vestments"

Not only do each of the eight priestly vestments have profound symbolic meanings, but even the way the garments are worn is meant to convey a life lesson to the priests and the people whom they serve.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Tetzaveh 5771-2011

"Do Clothes Make The Man?"

Just as the ancient priests, who served in the Temple, wore special vestments, so should every Jew be dressed in a special way, to reflect their spiritual roles as servants of the Al-mighty.

Read More


0 Comments6 Minutes

Emor 5769-2009

"The Highest Mitzvah of All!"

In parashat Emor, our sages derive from the laws governing the prohibition of the priest from defiling himself to the dead, the special commandment of "Met Mitzvah," the requirement to bury an abandoned body for which there is no one else to care. It is considered by many to be the foremost mitzvah, over which no other mitzvah takes precedence.

Read More


0 Comments10 Minutes

Tetzaveh 5769-2009

"The Urim and Tumim--The Mysterious Priestly Accessory"

One of the special accessories that the High Priest wore is known as the Urim v'Tumim. It is a rather mysterious vestment and apparently had the power to determine Jewish law, and provide guidance for the leaders of Israel and the people. According to Rashi, Urim stands for light and Tumim stands for clarity.

Read More


0 Comments10 Minutes

Tetzaveh 5768-2008

"Clothes Make the Person"

The Talmud teaches that priests could not officiate if they were not attired in their priestly vestments. Should garments make a difference in how we value people?

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

Yom Kippur 5768-2007

"The Role of the Cantor in the High Holiday Services"

After the Temples' destruction, the majestic service of ancient times could no longer be replicated. Instead, today, the cantor, who acts as the community representative, stands symbolically in the role of the High Priest. Many other holiday rituals underscore the connection between the High Priest and today's cantor.

Read More


0 Comments10 Minutes

Yom Kippur 5767-2006

"The Poetry of Yom Kippur"

The ritual of the Yom Kippur Temple service is very rich indeed. It is described in great detail as part of the Yom Kippur liturgy known as the Avodah. The Avodah includes the ritual of the scapegoat in which a lottery determines the fate of two identical he-goats. One is sent to the wilderness, the other is sacrificed to G-d. This ritual is intended to convey to the people the important choices that each of us has laid out before us.

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes

Bamidbar 5766-2006

"Valuable Insights from the Priestly Logistics"

In parashat Bamidbar we are told that Elazar, despite his prestigious position and noble background, carried many of the Tabernacle supplies in his own hands. There is much to be learned from Elazar's humility, and his preparedness to perform even the most menial of tasks. This attitude is what made him a worthy successor to his father as High Priest, and most fitting to serve as a model for future generations to admire and seek to emulate.

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes

Emor 5765-2005

"Priests and Death: An Unusual Relationship"

In parashat Emor, the commentators explain why a lay priest may contaminate himself upon the death of his closest seven relatives, but may not be defiled for the death of strangers. Through the laws of death, the Torah teaches the Jewish people the infinite value of life.

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes

Yom Kippur 5765-2004

"G-d's Gift to His People on Yom Kippur"

One expects sinners and criminals to pay for their sins and crimes, either by way of monetary assessment or physical punishment such as incarceration. And yet, the Divine method of judgment is so different. When the Al-mighty grants forgiveness, He wipes the slate clean and says "You've sinned, you've trespassed--just don't do it anymore." There is no expectation of compensation or further punishment. Forgiveness has been granted! It is a Divine gift based purely on G-d's love for His people.

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes

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.

Read More


0 Comments11 Minutes

Emor 5762-2002

"Death and the Kohanim--the Children of Aaron"

In parashat Emor we learn that a Kohain is only allowed to contaminate himself on the occasion of the death of one of his seven closest relatives. Rabbi Saul Berman maintains that the ancient priests, who acted as clergy, were not permitted to be involved with the dead so they would not be in a position to exploit their vulnerable constituents at the time of bereavement. It may also be a way of encouraging lay people to reach out to their friends and acquaintances at the time of death, rather than relying exclusively on clergy.

Read More


0 Comments6 Minutes

Tetzaveh-Purim 5761-2001

"The True Story of Purim"

The party that King Ahasuerus throws was not only to prove his legitimacy as a monarch, but also to celebrate the destruction of the Jewish people, to confirm that the prophecy of a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem would no longer be fulfilled. Incredible as it may seem, the Jews of Persia participated in the party with great enthusiasm. For the Jews to be spared from Ahasuerus and Haman, it was necessary for them to rise and to publically affirm G-d's supremacy.

Read More


0 Comments11 Minutes