Skip links

Main navigation

Posts by David Ackerman

Parashat Mattot-Masei (Numbers 30:32-36:13)

“For the western boundary you shall have the coast of the Great Sea; that shall serve as your western boundary.” (Numbers 34:6) 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 Jewish year (including … Continued

Parashat Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1)

“Take a census of the whole Israelite community from the age of twenty years up, by their ancestral houses, all Israelites able to bear arms.” (Numbers 26:2) Parashat Pinchas is a real law-and-order parasha, or portion. Pinchas, so to Elazar the High Priest (remember, Aaron, his grandfather is dead), is incensed when he sees an … Continued

Parashat Balak (Numbers 22:2:5:9)

“He replied, “I can only repeat faithfully what the Lord puts in my mouth.” (Numbers 23:12) Here’s Parashat Balak in a nutshell: a xenophobic ruler (Balak) fears the foreigners approaching his borders (the Israelites) and plots their destruction by hiring a wizard (Bilaam) to curse them (the wizard is a clue it’s not “ripped from … Continued

Parashat Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1)

“They journeyed from Kadesh and the Children of Israel arrived- the entire assembly-at Mount Hor.” (Numbers 20:22) Parashat Chukat commands the Israelites to find a parah adumah, a free and perfectly red cow, to be used for ritual purification (Num. 19:2-10). Classic commentators call this mitzvah, or commandment, THE paradigmatic law of the Torah, beyond … Continued

Parashat Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32)

“When Moses heard it he fell on his face.”  (Numbers 16:4)   Korach is a trouble maker.  That’s why God warns the Israelites to stay away from him: “Separate yourself from the midst of this eidah, or community.”  (Num. 16:20) We know an eidah means at least ten people, because last week, the ten spies … Continued

Parashat Sh’lach L’cha (Numbers 13:1-15:41)

“I the Lord am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I, the Lord your God.” (Numbers 15:41) Sh’lach L’cha is a parable of imagination and faith. Moses sends twelve spies to reconnoiter Canaan to determine whether or not it’s a good land (Num. 13:17-20). They bring … Continued

Parashat B’ha-alot’cha (Numbers 8:1-12:16)

“You shall place the Levites in attendance upon Aaron and his sons, and designate them as an elevation offering to the Lord.” (Numbers 8:13) Parashat B’ha-a lot’cha describes the Israelites’ departure from Mt. Sinai. With much ceremony and fanfare, Moses announces, “…Kuma adonai, …Advance, O Lord! May your enemies be scattered and may your foes … Continued

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

“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying,’ Take a census of the sons of Gershon, as well, according to their fathers’ household, according to their families.’” (Numbers 4:21) Parashat Naso contains the three-fold blessing Aaron uses to bless the Israelites. It is also known as birkat hakohanim, or priestly blessing and is included in the daily … Continued

Parashat Bamidbar (Numbers 1:1-4:20)

“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying,’ Advance the tribe of Levi and place them in attendance upon Aaron the priest to serve him.’” (Numbers 3:5) Parashat Bamidbar (in the wilderness), opens the fourth book of the Torah (with the same name). Like the book of Exodus, it opens with a list of names. Exodus lists … Continued

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

“The land will give its fruit and you will eat your fill; you will dwell securely upon it.” (Leviticus 25:19) Parashat B’har – B’chukotai mandates a shmita, or Sabbatical Year, when the land lies fallow and debts are cancelled (Lev. 25:2-5). After seven cycles of shmita, the 50th year is a yovel, a Jubilee, in … Continued