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Posts by David Ackerman

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

“Bezalel made the Ark of acacia wood, two and a half cubits long; a cubit and a half wide; and a cubit and a half tall.” (Exodus 37:1) We read two parashot (portions) this week because of how the Jewish calendar is calculated. A Jewish year can have from 50 to 55 weeks because the … Continued

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

“When God finished speaking on Mt. Sinai, He gave Moses the two Tablets of Testimony, stone tablets inscribed by God’s finger.  (Exodus 31:18) Everything is going so nicely: God reveals the Torah on Mt. Sinai and follows up with specific instructions for building the mishkan, or Tabernacle.  Moses appoints artists and craftsmen to create the … Continued

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

“You shall make a headband of pure gold, and you shall engrave upon it, engraved like a signet ring, “Holy to Adonai.” (Exodus 28:37) Parashat T’tzaveh opens with straightforward instructions to use pure olive oil to keep the menorah, or candelabrum in the mishkan, or Tabernacle, lit continuously (Ex. 27:20, 21). These two simple verses … Continued

Parashat T’rumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19)

“It is there that I will set my meetings with you, and I shall speak with you from atop the cover, from between the two cherubs on the ark of the pact…” (Exodus 25:22) Nechama Leibowitz, (1905-1997; scholar who revolutionized the teaching of the weekly Torah portion worldwide) teaches the importance of looking at the … Continued

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

“Do not side with the majority to do wrong and do not yield to the mighty to pervert the law.” (Exodus 23:2)   If Parashat Yitro is the awe-inspiring and aspirational keynote address, Parashat Mishpatim is the practical application workshop that follows.  The revelation at Mt. Sinai is followed by a much-longer set of laws … Continued

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

“You saw what I did to Egypt; and how I carried you on wings of eagles, and brought you to me.” (Exodus 19:4) Parashat Yitro is named for Moses’ father-in-law, Yitro, a Midianite priest. It contains two well-known events: the creation of the Israelite judicial system and the revelation at Mt. Sinai. It also provides … Continued

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

“He did not move away from the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire at night from before the people.” (Exodus 13:22) Parashat B’shalach describes a moment of exultation.  The Israelites are free from slavery, yet are pursued by Pharaoh’s army. In response to the miracle of the splitting of the sea, Moses (and … Continued

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

“The length of time that the Israelites lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years.” (Exodus 12:40) Parashat Bo describes the final two plagues, darkness and the slaying of the Egyptian first-born, the last of which causes Pharaoh to capitulate, finally, and release the Israelites from slavery. As they prepare to leave, they follow … Continued

Parashat Va’era(Exodus 6:2-9:35)

“Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God…’” (Exodus 8:19) Parashat Va’era pits God’s might against Pharaoh’s stubbornness.  The first several plagues convince Pharaoh’s sorcerers to give up their wands (Ex. 8:19), but Pharaoh remains resolute. Moses tries to warn Pharaoh of God’s power.  He and Aaron go to the palace … Continued

Parashat Sh’mot (Exodus 1:1-6:1)

“God said to Moses in Midian, “Go, return to Egypt, for all the people who seek your life have died.”  (Exodus 4:19) Parashat Sh’mot is the first parasha, or portion, in the book of Exodus.  It describes the abrupt change in status of the Children of Israel while in Egypt and narrates the precipitating event: … Continued