Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 5781-2021

Shaatnez: Understanding ‘Irrational’ Decrees”
(updated and revised from Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 5762-2002)

The laws of Shaatnezrecorded in parashat Kedoshim, of not wearing wool and linen together, fall under the category of laws that are known as chukim--decrees which are commands from G-d that have no apparent rational reason. The esoteric laws of Shaatnezthat appear so out of place with contemporary times, have much to teach us about developing sensitivity toward others, and that the great gift of having clothes to wear must never be taken for granted.

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Vayechi 5781-2021

“Revealing the Time of the Coming of the End of Days”
(Updated and revised from parashat Vayechi 5761-2001)

Parashat Vayechi is the only Torah parasha that has no empty spaces between the beginning of the new parasha and the end of the previous week's parasha. Vayechi is consequently considered a "sealed" parasha. The rabbis say that the reason the parasha is sealed is because Jacob wished to reveal when the end of days would be--when the Messiah would arrive. G-d, however, did not agree that Jacob should reveal this information. The frequent contemporary attempts to calculate the Messiah’s arrival raises many questions. The Malbim offers an engaging response.

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Shavuot 5780-2020

“The Anonymous Holiday”
(updated and revised from Shavuot 5760-2000)

Despite the tradition that the Torah was given on the holiday of Shavuot, nowhere in the Torah is there any mention that the Torah was given on that particular date. Why then are the Jewish people so keen on observing this day as the holiday of the giving of the Torah?

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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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Shelach 5779-2019

"Finding Meaning in the Rituals"
(Revised and updated from Shelach 5760-2000)

In parashat Shelach we read the well-known third paragraph of the Shema prayer concerning the Tzitzit, the fringes. It is one thing to profess love of G-d and to accept responsibility and accountability. But, the bottom line in Judaism is always action! By emphasizing the ritual of Tzitzit, fringes, our sages tell us that the essence of our relationship with G-d is how we act toward Him. Professing our love for Him and accepting responsibility and accountability is simply not enough. This, once again, confirms that in Judaism, “rituals work,”–-they really do.

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Kee Teitzei 5778-2018

What is the purpose of performing mitzvot?

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Kee Tavo 5775-2015

“Making The Final Commitment”

While encouraging the People of Israel to make the final commitment to the Al-mighty, Moses conveyed an important message to the people that is still relevant in our time, and can prove useful in our own lives.

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Va’etchanan 5775-2015

“Do Not Add...and Do Not Detract”

There are many unusual aspects to the fascinating and complex mitzvot of not adding and not detracting from the words of the Torah.

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Terumah 5775-2015

“The Sanctity of the Synagogue”

The great devotion that was required when building the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, and, in later years, the construction of the Beit Hamikdash, the holy Temples in Jerusalem, applies also to the sanctity of contemporary synagogues and houses of study.

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Chukat 5774-2014

“The Inscrutable Statutes”

The rules and rituals of the Red Heifer represent a model of a “chok,” a Divine statute that seems to have no rhyme or reason. It teaches an important lesson for a person of true faith.

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Vayeira 5774-2013

“Greater than Welcoming the Divine Presence”

Is welcoming guests a greater mitzvah than welcoming the Divine Presence? Perhaps they are of equal value?       

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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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Chukat 5772-2012

"It is a Decree Before Me–-You Have No Right to Question It!"

The Parah Adumah, the Red Heifer, is one of the most enigmatic laws of the Torah. Rashi declares that the law of the Red Heifer is a decree that mortals have no right to question. Rashi then proceeds to try to explain the enigma.

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Vayeitzei 5772-2011

“In Haran--A Kiss is Still a Kiss”

When Jacob arrives in Haran, he meets his beautiful cousin, Rachel, at the well. Not long after, Scripture reports that Jacob kissed Rachel, and wept. Jacob’s bold action launched a millennia-long controversy about the propriety of male-female contact in Judaism.

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Bechukotai 5771-2011

"Peace--The Greatest of All Blessings"

G-d’s reproof of the Jewish people always begins with abundant blessings. The series of blessings that precede the reproof in parashat Bechukotai conclude with perhaps the most exalted of all blessings–-the blessing of peace.

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Kedoshim 5771-2011

“Judaism’s Radical Notion of Holiness”

In the closing verses of this week’s parasha, G-d calls out to His people: “And you shall be holy to Me because I, your L-rd, am holy.” This is the ultimate human challenge--and the ultimate human calling.

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Passover 5770-2010

"The Festival of Liberation"

The care, some would say, obsessive concern, with which Jews try to avoid chometz is widely acknowledged. If that is the case, why has matzoh not been prohibited, since it embodies the exact ingredients found in chometz?

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Emor 5768-2008

"Creed or Deed"

The Torah instructs us to observe G-d's commandments and to perform them, leading Rashi to comment that one must study the commandments diligently in order to perform them properly. Jewish scholars engage in a very cogent argument over whether creed or deed takes precedence.

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Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 5767-2007

"Beards and Payos"

In the second of this week's combined parashiot, Acharei Mot-Kedoshim, we learn of the prohibition of rounding the hair below the temples by the ear and of shaving the beard with a razor. What are the reasons for these prohibitions, and what are their implications?

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0 Comments8 Minutes