End of Pesach – April 27, 2019 – 22 Nisan 5779

April 25th, 2019|Comments Off on End of Pesach – April 27, 2019 – 22 Nisan 5779

The end of Pesah Torah reading includes the verse, “All of the ailments with which I afflicted Egypt, I will not afflict you, for I am the Lord your healer” (Shemot/Exodus 15:26). This verse gave rise to the question, “If we won’t be getting sick, why will we need healing?” The answer to this question is [...]

Shabbat Pesach I – April 20, 2019 – 15 Nisan 5779

April 18th, 2019|Comments Off on Shabbat Pesach I – April 20, 2019 – 15 Nisan 5779

The Haggadah begins with a declaration inviting all those in need to join in for the Seder meal. This welcoming the stranger is not only a display of sensitivity and welcoming the hungry is not simply an expression of charity. Regard for the vulnerable among us at the Seder is closely linked to the theme of [...]

Shabbat HaGadol – April 13, 2019 – 8 Nisan 5779

April 11th, 2019|Comments Off on Shabbat HaGadol – April 13, 2019 – 8 Nisan 5779

‘Tis the season of freedom, and an undeniable sense of freedom accompanies the relief of being done with taxes prior to sitting down to our Seder. Some folks think real freedom would be no imposition of taxation at all. On this, our talmudic rabbis expressed some ambivalence. Taxes in rabbinic times meant paying one’s dues to [...]

Parashat Tazria – April 6, 2019 – 1 Nisan 5779

April 4th, 2019|Comments Off on Parashat Tazria – April 6, 2019 – 1 Nisan 5779

The Torah instructs the one afflicted with a skin affliction traditionally translated as “leprosy” to repeatedly call out “Impure! Impure!” and to “dwell alone outside the camp.” (Lev. 13:45-46) It seems odd that one who is alone should be obliged to call out anything. Who is supposed to hear it? “Leprosy” was considered a sign of [...]

Parsha Parah 3/30/2019 – 23 Adar II 5779

March 28th, 2019|Comments Off on Parsha Parah 3/30/2019 – 23 Adar II 5779

Adherents and detractors alike sometimes confuse religion with magic. The power (or powers) behind the universe may be manipulated by means of the correct execution of rituals or prayers as surely as with a propitious incantation. The rabbis encountered this view. On at least one occasion they recognized its appeal but dismissed it as sophomoric. The [...]

Parashat Tzav – March 23, 2019 – 16 Adar II

March 21st, 2019|Comments Off on Parashat Tzav – March 23, 2019 – 16 Adar II

Twice in this week’s parasha we are told that the elevation-offering must be sacrificed in the same place in the Temple as the sin- offering. Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish explains that holding both types of sacrifice in the same area of the Temple made it impossible for an onlooker to know the true purpose of a [...]

Purim – March 16, 2019 – 9 Adar II 5779

March 14th, 2019|Comments Off on Purim – March 16, 2019 – 9 Adar II 5779

A striking fact about Purim is that it is a made up Jewish holiday. That is, if you asked a Jewish person in Mordecai and Esther’s day to name the Jewish holidays, they would be expected to simply recite the holidays listed in the Torah. Purim isn't there. It was instituted, according to the Story of [...]

Parashat Pekudei – March 9, 2019 – 2 Adar II 5779

March 7th, 2019|Comments Off on Parashat Pekudei – March 9, 2019 – 2 Adar II 5779

This week’s Torah Portion, P. Pekudei, includes the completion of the building of the Tabernacle. Moses saw the entire work and blessed the people, but there is no mention of God’s response to the completion of this awesome project, which God had commanded. What’s that about? A midrash tells us that God did have a response. [...]