Parashat K’doshim (Leviticus 19:1-20:27)

“Do not go about betraying your countrymen. Do not profit by the blood of your fellow; I am the Lord.”  (Leviticus 19:16) The book of Leviticus is considered the heart of the Torah because it’s the middle book. Parashat K’doshim is considered the heart of Leviticus and is the parasha (portion) you’ve been waiting for.  Instead […]

Shabbat Chol Hamoed Pesach (The Intermediate Shabbat of Passover)(Exodus 33:12-34:26)

“God descended in a cloud and stood with him there, and he called out with God’s name.” (Exodus 34:5) We read a special selection from the Torah on each day of Pesach (Passover). This custom interrupts the weekly cycle of parashot (portions) on Shabbat. The selection is an odd pastiche of topics: Moses’ request for […]

Parashat Acharei Mot (Leviticus 16:1-18:27)

“My rules alone shall you observe, and faithfully follow My laws: I, the Lord am your God.” (Leviticus 18:4) Parashat Acharei Mot begins with a lengthy description of the Yom Kippur ritual for purifying the mishkan (Tabernacle) and ends with a list of forbidden sexual relationships. The concept of k’dusha, or sanctity, connects these two […]

Parashat Metzora (Leviticus 14:1-15:33)

“And the purifying priest shall set the man to be purified, and those things, before God, at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.” (Leviticus 14: 11) Parashat Metzora describes what happens when someone has tzara-at (a variety of erupting skin diseases). The immediate response is to separate the person from the community. This makes sense, […]

Parashat Tazria (Leviticus 12:1-13:59)

“All the days that the affliction is upon him he shall remain contaminated; he is contaminated. He shall dwell in isolation; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.” (Leviticus 13:46) Parashat Tazria is a tough read for two reasons: the skin diseases it describes sound gross and the idea of someone being either tahor or […]

Parashat Tzav (Leviticus 6:1-8:36)

“Moses took the anointing oil and anointed the Tabernacle and all that was in it, thus consecrating them.”  (Leviticus 8:5) Parashat Tzav adds more details to the instructions for performance of the sacrifices introduced in last week’s parasha (portion).  It concludes with Aaron’s and his sons’ ordination as kohanim (priests). Sacrificial worship is the norm […]

Parashat Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1-5:26)

“He shall lay his hand upon the head of the burnt offering, that it may be acceptable in his behalf, in expiation for him. ” (Leviticus 1:4) Parashat Vayikra (And he called) opens the third and central book of the Torah (also called Vayikra). It describes the sacrificial rite in great detail: how the animals […]

Parashat P’kudei (Exodus 38:21-40:38)

“On the first day of the month you shall set up the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting.”  (Exodus 40:2)  Parashat P’kudei  opens with an accounting of the materials used to build the mishkan (Tabernacle) and describes again the priestly garments, repeating God’s instructions to Moses. Finally, it closes the book of Exodus with Moses […]

Parashat Vayakhel-P’kudei (Exodus 35:1-40:38)

“And all the skilled women spun with their own hands, and brought what they had spun, in blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and in fine linen.” (Exodus 35:25) Parashat Vayakhel triggers a sense of déjà vu because Moses repeats the instructions for constructing the mishkan (Tabernacle) to the entire Israelite people. Big chunks of the […]

Parashat Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-34:35

“Moses stood up in the gate of the camp and said, ”Whoever is for the Lord, come here!…“(Exodus 32:23) Parashat Ki Tisa opens with a census and a tax on the Israelites to finance the construction of the mishkan (Tabernacle). Moses appoints artists to oversee the project and relays God’s instructions for a few more […]

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