Parashat Mattot-Masei (Numbers 30:32-36:13)

“Do not defile the land which you inhabit, in the midst of which I dwell; for I, the Lord, dwell in the midst of the Children of Israel.” (Numbers 35:34)   Judaism is often described as a religion of deed, not creed. That is, the Torah commands us (mostly) to do things rather than believe things, and […]

Parashat Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1)

“God said to Moses, “Go up this Mount Avarim and see the land I have given the Children of Israel.”  (Numbers 27:12) Parashat Pinchas marks the beginning of a transition.  The Israelites have completed their wandering in the desert and are camped out on the border of Moab near Jericho.  God orders a census of […]

Parashat Balak (Numbers 22:2-25:9)

“He spoke up and said, ”Is it not so that whatever God puts in my mouth, I must take heed to speak?” (Numbers 23:12) Parashat Balak is a good example of distinguishing between the Torah’s message and the Torah’s method.  The parasha (portion) tells the story of the Moabite king Balak’s fear of the Israelites.  […]

Parashat Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1)

“Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as He had commanded him.”  (Numbers 20:9) Parashat Chukat contains a most fateful episode.  The Israelites complain there is no water (as usual).  Moses consults with God (as usual).  God instructs Moses (as usual).  And then unusual happens:  Moses apparently doesn’t follow God’s instructions.  Instead of speaking […]

Parashat Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32)

“All the best of the new oil, wine, and grain-the choice parts that they present to the Lord-I give to you.”  (Numbers 18:12) Parashat Korach is a “mashup” of four separate rebellions:  the Levites against Aaron; Datan and Aviram against Moses; the tribal chieftains against Aaron, and; the entire community against Moses and Aaron.  Korach, […]

Parashat Sh’lach L’cha (Numbers 13:1-15:41)

“Thus shall you be reminded to observe all my commandments and to be holy to your God.”  (Numbers 15:40)   Sh’lach L’cha is a fateful parasha (portion).  Moses sends twelve men to scout the land of Canaan.  When they bring back positive reports, but fear they cannot conquer the land (only two disagree), the people […]

Parashat B’ha-alot’cha (Numbers 8:1-12:16)

“When the ark was set out to move, Moses would say:  Advance, O Lord! May your enemies be scattered, and may your foes flee before you!’ (Numbers 10:35) Parashat B’ha-alot’cha records how the Israelites leave Sinai on the twentieth day of the second month of the second year since the Exodus (Num. 10:11).  It describes […]

Parashat Naso (Numbers 4:21-7:89)

“So, too, any gift among the sacred donations that the Israelites offer shall be the priest’s.” (Num. 5:9)   Parashat Naso (Hebrew for “lift up”) is the longest parasha (portion) in the Torah with 176 verses.  It covers a lot of territory:  the responsibilities of the Levite clans for transporting the mishkan (sanctuary), maintaining the […]

Parashat Bamidbar (Numbers 1:1-4:20)

“As the Lord had commanded Moses, so he recorded them in the wilderness of Sinai.”  (Num. 1:19) This week’s Torah perspective comes from Mark Horowitz, JCC Association Vice President for Early Childhood and Family Engagement.   This week we begin the book of Bamidbar (literally, in the wilderness) or Numbers.  God speaks to Moses and […]

Parashat B’har-B’chukotai (Leviticus 25:1-27:34)

“In this year of jubilee, each of you shall return to his holding.”  (Lev. 25:13) Parashat B’har describes both the sh’mita (Sabbatical year) and yovel (Jubilee year) when land reverts to the original owner, slaves are set free, and debts are cancelled.  These practices demand both a certain amount of personal sacrifice as well as […]