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 […]

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

“And they shall know that I the Lord am their God, who brought them out from the land of Egypt that I might abide among them, I the Lord their God. “ (Exodus 29:46) Parashat T’tzaveh concludes the instructions for building the mishkan (Tabernacle), with particular attention to the oil for the menorah, or candelabrum. […]

Parashat T’rumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19)

“Exactly as I show you—the pattern of the Tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings—so shall you make it.” (Exodus 25:9) Parashat T’rumah introduces the instructions for building the mishkan, or Tabernacle. The mishkan’s importance is manifest by the level of detail included; the Torah devotes three times the space to the creation of […]

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

“You shall not ill-treat any widow of orphan.” (Exodus 22:21) Parashat Yitro provides drama. Parashat Mishpatim provides details. It begins a section of the Torah known as sefer habrit, the Book of the Covenant and presents laws necessary for a just society. One section of sefer habrit lists punishments for causing bodily harm: “…the penalty […]

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

“So the people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was.” (Exodus 20:15) Parashat Yitro is the moment the Torah was written for. The Israelites are camped around the base of Mt. Sinai. The priests and the elders climb partway up the mountain, but no farther. Moses alone ascends to […]

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

“The Lord will battle for you; you hold your peace!” (Exodus 14:14) Parashat B’shalach describes Israel’s hasty departure from Egypt, Pharoah’s fevered pursuit, and God’s miraculous splitting of the sea and destruction of the Egyptian army.  In response, Moses leads the people in Shirat Hayam, the Song of the Sea.  (That is why this Shabbat […]

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

 “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a festival of the Lord.” (Exodus 13:6) Parashat Bo rachets up the drama of the plagues with locusts, darkness, and Pharoah’s continued intransigence.  Then God informs Moses of the final, awful plague.  But something curious happens: God interrupts the narrative […]

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