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Posts by David Ackerman

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

“And the chieftains of Israel, the heads of their ancestral homes, those who were in charge of enrollment, drew near.” (Numbers 7:2) Parashat Naso (Hebrew for “lift up”) is the longest portion in the Torah. Its 176 verses include three of the Torah’s most recognized: “God bless you and safeguard you. God’s face shine upon … Continued

Parashat B’midbar (Numbers 1:1-4:20)

“Do not on any account enroll the tribe of Levi or take a census of them with the Israelites.” (Numbers 1:49) Parashat B’midbar opens the fourth book of the Torah, also called B’midbar, in the wilderness of… In B’midbar, God orders Moses to prepare the Israelites for their wilderness trek by conducting a census of … Continued

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

“For it is the Jubilee, it shall be holy to you; you shall eat the increase of the field. (Leviticus 25:12) The Torah relies heavily on the power of memory and empathy. It commands us, repeatedly, to remember the experience of slavery in Egypt to ensure we never become indifferent to the pain and suffering … Continued

Parashat Emor (Leviticus 21:1-24:23)

“You shall observe My commandments and perform them; I am Adonai.” (Leviticus 22:31) The Book of Leviticus is known generally as Torat Kohanim, the Laws of the Priests, because of its many laws governing the sacrificial rites. Technically, Torat Kohanim refers to the first part of Parashat Emor, specifically, which focusses on issues of priestly … Continued

Parashat Acharei Mot-Kedoshim (Leviticus 16:1-20:27)

“You shall not copy the practices of the land of Egypt where you dwelt, or of the land of Canaan to which I am taking you; you shall not follow their laws.” (Leviticus 18:3) We read two parashot (portions) this week because of how the Jewish calendar is calculated. The moon’s cycle determines the months, … Continued

Parashat Tazria-Metzora (Leviticus 12:1-15:33)

“You shall put the Israelites on guard against their impurity, lest they die through their impurity by defining my Tabernacle which is among them.” (15:31) We read two parashot (portions) this week because of how the Jewish calendar is calculated. The moon’s cycle determines the months, but the sun’s cycle determines the year. Therefore, a … Continued

Parashat Sh’mini (Leviticus 9:1-11:47)

“In order to distinguish between the sacred and the profane, and between the impure and the pure.” (Leviticus 10:10) Parashat Sh’mini describes Aaron’s ordination as kohen gadol (High Priest) and his sons’ as kohanim (priests) on the eighth day of the dedication ceremony of the mishkan, or Tabernacle. It closes with the Torah’s first of … Continued

Shabbat and Eighth Day of Pesach (Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17)

“Oh, shout for joy, You who dwell in Zion! For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 12:6) Pesach in Israel ends Friday night, even as it continues everywhere else through Saturday night (Reform communities follow the Israeli custom.) This means synagogues in Israel will read a regular parasha (Torah portion) … Continued

Shabbat and Pesach (Exodus 12:21-51)

“The Lord said to Joshua, “This day, I will exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they shall know I will be with you as I was with Moses.” (Joshua 3:7) Because the first day of Pesach falls on Shabbat, the weekly cycle of parashot (Torah portions) is interrupted by a special holiday … Continued

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

“Gather the entire assembly to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.” (Leviticus 8:3) Parashat Tzav describes the rituals for performing each of the sacrifices listed in last week’s parasha (portion): the olah (burnt offering), mincha (meal offering), chatat (sin offering), asham (guilt offering), and zevach sh’lamim (peace offering). But Tzav is more than just … Continued