Parashat Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32)

“But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall enter the ark; you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.” (Gen 6:18) Noah, famous for building an ark to save humanity, is a tzaddik, a righteous person. We know because the Torah says so (Gen. 6:9). In fact, Noah is […]

Parshat B’reishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8)

“The Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a fitting helper for him.’” (Genesis 2:18) On Simchat Torah we read V’zot Habracha, the closing parasha, or portion, of the Torah and then return to B’reishit, the opening parasha, immediately. B’reishit describes the origins of the world: the […]

Shabbat Chol Hamoed Sukkot (Intermediate Shabbat of Sukkot) (Exodus 33:12-34:26)

“God said, My presence will go and provide you rest.” (Exodus 33:14) The Torah reading for Shabbat Chol Hamoed describes the aftermath of the episode of the golden calf. It’s a curious selection for a holiday known as z’man simchateinu, the time of our rejoicing. After all, the golden calf represents the Israelites’ ultimate betrayal […]

Yom Kippur (Leviticus 16:1-16:34)

“And should I not care about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people…?” (Jonah 4:11) Jonah is unique among the Biblical prophets; only he gets an entire city to repent with one warning. It makes sense, then, for the rabbis to choose Jonah for the prophetic […]

Parashat Ha-azinu (Deuteronomy 23:1-32:52)

“For the name of the Lord I proclaim; Give glory to our God!” (Deut. 32:3) On each day of Rosh Hashana we recite the phrase, hayom harat olam, today the world is created, three times. Parashat Ha-azinu reminds us this is not only the beginning of history, but also an ongoing, daily and dynamic process. […]

Parashat Nitzavim-Vayelech (Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30)

“That day, Moses wrote down this poem and taught it to the Israelites.” (Deut. 31:22) We read two parashot (portions) this week because of how the Jewish calendar is calculated. Months are determined by the moon’s cycle, but the year is determined by the sun’s. Therefore, a Jewish year can have from 50-55 weeks. Since […]

Parashat Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8)

“This day, Adonai your God, commands you to perform these decrees and the statutes, and you shall observe and perform them with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deut. 26:16) Parashat Ki Tavo continues the description of rituals to be performed once the Israelites make their way into the land of Canaan: the […]

Parashat Ki Teitzei (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19)

“When you go out as a troop against your enemies, be on your guard against anything untoward.” (Deut. 23:10) Parashat Ki Teitzei contains laws regarding individuals and their obligations to their families and neighbors around them. One such law is to build a parapet on the roof of a new house to prevent someone falling […]

Parashat Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9)

And you shall not erect for yourselves a pillar, which the Lord your God hates.” (Deut. 16:22) Parashat Shoftim opens with the command, “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your cities-which God gives to you-for your tribes…” (Deut. 16:18). It turns out this is the most observed of all the Torah’s commandments…but not […]

Parashat R’eih (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:12)

“Bear in mind that you were slaves in Egypt, and take care to obey these laws.” (Deut. 16:12) Parashat R’eih is the Torah’s response to anyone who says, ”I have no choice.” It opens by declaring, “See, I present before you today a blessing and a curse, “(Deut. 11:26) and continues to explain following the […]

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