Parashat T’tzaveh (Exodus 27:30-30:10)

“And you shall take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the Children of Israel.” (Exodus 28:9) When Shakespeare has Polonius advise his son Laertes, “Clothes make the man, “(Hamlet, 1:3), he contradicts Rabbi Meir’s dictum, “Don’t look at the container, rather what is inside it.” (Pirkei Avot 4:27). We know we […]

Parashat T’rumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19)

“You shall place in the ark the testimonial tablets that I shall give you.” (Exodus 25:16) If you’ve ever assembled a piece of Ikea furniture you know that moment when you you’ve finished the job but then notice two screws still lying on the floor. It looks complete, but you’re left with a nagging feeling: […]

Parshat Mishpatim (Exodus 21:1-24:18)

“Do not oppress a stranger, as you know the soul of a stranger, because you were strangers in the Land of Egypt. “ (Exodus 23:9) Parashat Mishpatim follows the “Big Ten” (commandments, not football colleges) with a list of 52 additional mitzvot, or commandments. Most commentators view this list as a continuation of the revelation […]

Parashat Yitro (Exodus 18:1-2:23)

“Moses came and summoned the elders of the people, and put before them all these words that God had commanded him.” (Exodus 19:7) Parashat Yitro is the peak moment in the Torah: God reveals the Torah to the Israelites, who are camped around the base of Mt. Sinai. This revelation is not only the reason […]

Parashat B’shalach (Exodus 13:17-17:16)

“Adonai will reign for all eternity!” (Exodus 15:18) Parashat B’shalach is all about God’s might and miracles: it describes the parting of the Reed Sea and the destruction of Pharaoh’s army. In awed gratitude, Moses leads the Israelites in Shirat Hayam, the Song of the Sea. But B’shalach is also about personal faith and celebration. […]

Parashat Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16)

“Take even your sheep and even your cattle, as you have spoken, and go—and bless me, as well!” (Exodus 12:32) Parashat Bo is about awesome and majestic power: God sends the last three plagues (locusts, darkness, and the death of the first-born), which finally break Pharaoh’s spirit so he frees the Israelites to worship God. […]

Parashat Va’era (Exodus 6:2-9:35)

“But Pharaoh made his heart stubborn even this time and he did not send out the people.” (Exodus 8:28) Parashat Va’era is arguably one of the best known parashot, or portions, in the Torah. It describes the first seven plagues God inflicts upon Pharaoh and Egypt, an episode recalled each year at the Passover seder. […]

Parashat Sh’mot (Exodus 1:1-6:1)

“Moses replied to God, ”Who am I that I should go to Pharoah and that I should take the Children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11) Parashat Sh’mot opens the second book of the Torah by describing Pharoah’s enslavement of the Children of Israel and God’s choice of Moses to lead them to freedom. […]

Parashat Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26)

“Then Joseph adjured the children of Israel saying, “When God will indeed remember you, then you must bring my bones up out of here.” (Genesis 50:25) Parashat Vayechi is the last parasha, or portion in the book of Genesis. It also is a parasha of “firsts: ” the first time someone is aware of impending […]

Parashat Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27)

“He then kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; afterwards his brothers conversed with him.” (Genesis 45:15) Parashat Vayigash brings the dramatic moment you’ve been waiting for: Joseph reveals himself to his brothers. They return to Canaan to bring Jacob and the rest of the clan down to Egypt where Joseph and Jacob are […]

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