A Brief Note on an All to Familiar Dialogue – Parsha Behaalotecha

The Torah, beginning from the Book of Exodus, is the story of the budding relationships that developed between God and His People, the Children of Israel. It is a tense dynamic, fractured and fractious. The Israelites are only months removed from their sudden liberation from slavery, and, God was not patient with what He viewed as their ingratitude and profound lack of enthusiasm. Continue reading

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A Brief Note on the Past – Parsha Naso

Parsha Naso is very long; one hundred and seventy-six verses. It records a number of very distinct subjects. Some now obscure; other still relevant to the conduct of our daily lives. Some unsophisticated and others unrefined, meant for a time now long passed. An exemplar of the latter is the law dealing with a “wayward wife”, the Sotah. Continue reading

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A Brief Note on Actions and Consequences – Parshot Behar and Bechukotai

This week the two portions that complete Sefer VaYikra, are read: Parsha Behar and Parsha Bechukotai. They offer a simple premise: obey God’s laws and be blessed, disobey His commandments and be cursed. Continue reading

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A Brief Note on Expectations – Parshot Achrei Mot and Kedoshim

This week’s Torah reading consists of two parshas: Achrei Mot and Kedoshim. These texts record the last of the laws relating to the sacrificial rite and then the focus returns to the special social and cultural weal that God expected the Israelites to abide. To truly sanctify God’s name, the Israelites were required to engage in socially beneficial conduct and live their lives in a very moral manner. Continue reading

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A Brief Note on Fear and its Isolation – Parshot Tazria and Metzora

This week’s double reading is the combined Parashot of Tazria-Metzora, literally to conceive and to be afflicted with a tzara’at, a word that has no known meaning but represented some sort of foreign growth that would settle on the skin, clothes or the walls of a house. Continue reading

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A Brief Note on Going off the Script – Parasha Shemini

Parsha Shemini records two major narratives. The first is the story of the macabre deaths suffered by two of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu; the other is a rather dry listing of which wildlife, from the land, air and sea, may and may not be consumed by the Israelites.  Continue reading

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A Brief Note on Original Sin – Parsha Ki Tisa

In the third month of their freedom, the Children of Israel stood at the foot of Mount Sinai. There, they were to hear the Word of God, when He uttered the Ten Commandments. The Torah reports that when the people saw the thunder the flames the smoke rising up to the mountain and heard the sounds of the Shofar they “trembled stood from a far”. They turned to Moses and pleaded: “you speak to us and we shall hear; let God not speak to us lest we die”. Continue reading

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A Brief Note on Clothes that Make the Man – Parsha Tezaveh

Parsha Tezaveh introduces the priesthood. The priests of Israel – the Kohanim – were a dedicated hereditary cadre of men to serve both God and man in the Mishkan. Only they were allowed to offer the various sacrifices to God. The Torah declared that one man and his family, and their descendents, would serve as the Priests of Israel. That honour was bestowed on Aaron, the brother of Moses, and his four sons. Continue reading

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A Brief Note on the Pot and the Kettle

The text of Parsha Mishpatim, the Book of the Covenant, records a series of laws, which on first glance, appear as a disjointed compilation of decrees that cover a myriad of unrelated subjects. Some describe the actions of one man killing another and differentiate the lesser crime of manslaughter from capital murder. There are laws that speak to the quantification and types of damages that were to be awarded consequent to occurrences which we now label as torts. Continue reading

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A Brief Note on Parsha Yitro

Parsha Yitro speaks to four of Judaism’s main pillars: the belief in one God, the primacy of God’s the Law [a term which encompasses morality and ethics], the Sabbath and, the worship of God. The focus of the Parsha is naturally on [what is colloquially called] the Ten Commandments which are often thought of as the Basic Law of the Torah and which impart the theological base for the entire corpus of Jewish law and beliefs. Continue reading

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