Tetzaveh 5781-2021

“The Korban Tamid--a Lesson in Consistency”
(updated and revised from Tetzaveh 5762-2002)

The Tamid, the perpetual offering, was brought every morning and afternoon of every day of the year. Unfortunately, we no longer have a Temple and can no longer offer sacrifices. All we have is prayer. Now we must show our consistency and faithfulness to G-d through our prayers.

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Terumah 5781-2021

“The Mishkan and the Sanctity of the Jewish Home”
(updated and revised from Terumah 5763-2003)

The fact that the Mishkan--the Tabernacle--and its central furnishings so closely resemble the Jewish home, underscores the sanctity of the Jewish domicile. By analyzing each of the Tabernacle's furnishings, we uncover the invaluable symbolic meanings of these furnishings that deserve to be found in every Jewish home.

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Shemini 5780-2020

“The Responsibilities of Leadership”
(Revised and updated from Parashat Shemini 5761-2001)

Some commentators suggest that the “strange fire” offered by Nadav and Abihu was an attempt to fulfill a personal urge they had for their own self-expression. The tragic story of Nadav and Abihu teaches that true leaders must act responsibly, which inevitably results in personal limitations. Those who cannot accept limitations should avoid assuming leadership roles.

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Vayakhel-Pekudei 5780-2020

“Judaism Sanctifies Time, Not Space”
(Updated and revised from Vayakhel-Pekudei 5761-2001)

Unexpectedly, in the midst of the Torah’s plans for the construction of the Tabernacle, the Torah in parashat Vayakhel exhorts the Jewish people to observe the Sabbath. While the Tabernacle and the Temple were sacred spaces, far more important is the sanctity of time. Lost land, earth or space, can often be recovered. But time that passes, can never be recovered. Time is truly sacred.

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Terumah 5780-2020

“The Centrality of Torah”
(updated and revised from Terumah 5762-2002)

The Holy Ark was the central furnishing of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), which housed the Torah. Since Torah is the elixir of life for the Jewish people, the Ark, with its non-removable staves, always traveled with the people whenever they moved. This ancient practice marked indelibly on all Jews, that at the very core of our lives must be the Torah.

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Pekudei 5779-2019

"Honesty and Integrity in Public Life”
(Revised and updated from Pekudei 5760-2000)

In parashat Pekudai, the Torah portion provides an exact accounting of the amount of gold, silver, and copper that was contributed to the construction of the Tabernacle. Honesty and integrity play a major role in the Jewish religion. Especially leaders, who are meant to serve as role models for the rest of the community, are expected to live up to the highest standards of probity.

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Vayakhel 5779-2019

"Jewish Women and Jewish Destiny"
(Revised and updated from Vayakhel 5760-2000)

We are told in parashat Vayakhel that the Jewish women responded immediately to the appeals that were made by Moses for gold for building the Tabernacle, swiftly removing their precious jewelry and rushing them to the Tabernacle. This was only one of the many heroic actions that the women of Israel performed. The key role that the women of Israel played in the redemption of the people of Israel is confirmed by the remarkable rabbinic statement asserting that “only in the merit of the righteous women, were our ancestors redeemed from Egypt.” It is quite likely that this is true, not only of the generation of Egypt, but for all subsequent generations as well.

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Terumah 5779-2019

“The Mishkan: Underscoring the Centrality of the Home in Jewish Life”

The Mishkan–the Tabernacle–is very much like a home, and has all the furnishings that are found in a home. The fact that our synagogue is called a Beit Kinesset, a house of coming together, underscores the importance of the home. Unless our homes serve as dwelling places for G-d, there will be little chance that our religion will be effectively communicated in our synagogues or in our temples.

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Tazria-Metzorah 5777-2017

“Insights to be Gleaned from the Metzorah, the Person Stricken with the Tzaraat Disease"

The Tzaraat disease and its accompanying rituals, appear at first blush, rather primitive. However, Tzaraat, like many other obscure concepts that appear in the Torah, when studied carefully, is deeply insightful and conveys a message of timeless importance to all of humankind.

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Terumah 5777-2017

“ זִיכּוּי הָרַבִּים - Meriting the Broader Jewish Community”

The commandment to build a Mishkan, a temporary, portable Tabernacle for G-d, also includes the mitzvah to build “miniature Temples”--local synagogues. The operating principle which expands the command to build a Temple to include local synagogues, known as זִיכּוּי הָרַבִּים --“Zee’kuy ha’rah’bim” reflects the intent to bring merit to the broader Jewish community.

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Sukkot II 5777-2016

“Why is Sukkot Celebrated in the Fall rather than in the Spring?”

Why is Sukkot celebrated in the fall rather than in the spring?

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B’ha’a’lot’cha 5776-2016

“Moses Realizes that His Dreams Were Not Going to be Fulfilled"

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik provides new insights into a well-known narrative in parashat B’ha’a’lot’cha, explaining why Moses’ dreams of entering the Promised Land were not realized.

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Tzav 5776-2016

“Dressing Properly for Special Occasions”

The Kohanim (priests) are required to change their priestly garments when performing menial parts of the service, such as removing the ashes from the altar. Tradition teaches us to respect our garments and to dress properly for each occasion

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Pekudei 5776-2016

“The Mishkan--the Tabernacle, as Collateral”

The Mishkan, the Tabernacle, is not only the home of the Divine Presence. It also serves as critical collateral to ensure the survival of the Jewish people.

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Vayakhel 5776-2016

“The Wise-Hearted Person”

The Torah’s understanding of wisdom is a far cry from the contemporary understanding of wisdom and the measurement of Intelligence Quotients. The Al-mighty did not want His “house” to be built by the most skilled workmen or the most intelligent workmen. The house of G-d needed to be built by “Chachmei lev,” by wise-hearted people who were warm-hearted and prepared to invest their very hearts and souls into the dwelling place which would be the focus of the Divine Presence.

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Tetzaveh 5776-2016

"Feeling the Pain of Others who are in Need"

Just as the Torah instructs the High Priest to wear the Breastplate on his heart, so must each Jew feel the pain of those who are in need.

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Bamidbar 5775-2015

“Finding Value in Every Task”

The Torah and the commentators note that every Levite had a specific task in the Tabernacle. Apparently, it was necessary to convince the Levites who served in the Temple, that each task was of great importance. It is an important lesson that we today would do well to appreciate.

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Emor 5775-2015

“Distractions, Distractions!”

Just as the ancient priests were bidden to singularly focus on their work in the Sanctuary, so too must all Jews today endeavor to focus on our peoples’ mission to become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

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Vayakhel-Pekudei 5775-2015

“Bringing Heaven Down To Earth”

The Biblical narrative describing the final erecting of the Tabernacle teaches that human beings can indeed build an earthly dwelling place for the Divine Presence, and they can even bring the Divine Presence down to earth.

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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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Tzav 5774-2014

“The Perpetual Fire”

There is only one place for the fire of Torah. It is to be found in the perpetual flame that burned continuously on the Earthen Altar. It is from there that one must kindle all the other fires in the Sanctuary.

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Pekudei 5774-2014

“Moses Retires from Center Stage”

Despite the superhuman efforts invested by Moses in the construction of the Tabernacle, Moses himself is prevented from entering the Tabernacle when the Divine cloud hovered over the Sanctuary.

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Vayakhel 5774-2014

“Lip Service is Hardly Enough”

The Torah commentators point to the subtle but profound differences between the charitable giving of the People of Israel to the Golden Calf and their donations of varied materials that were used to build the Tabernacle.

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Terumah 5774-2014

“The Shulchan--Much More Than Just a Table”

The “Shulchan”–the Table of Showbread, one of the central furnishings in the Tabernacle and the Temple, was much more than just a table.

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Chayei Sarah 5774-2013

"Yitzchak Establishes a Home with His New Wife"

The betrothal of Isaac and Rebecca can serve as a most valuable case study for finding a mate and establishing a successful home environment.

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