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Posts by David Ackerman

Parashat T’rumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19)

“They shall make an ark of acacia wood, two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high.” (Exodus 25:10) Survey after survey report American Jews are proud to be Jewish and have a strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people. Parashat T’rumah offers a … Continued

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

“You shall be holy people unto me…” (Exodus 22:31) Parashat Mishpatim includes the first set of specific “Torah” laws beyond the general principles of Aseret Hadibrot and is referred to as Sefer Habrit (the Book of the Covenant). Two of these laws include, “The choice first fruits of your soil you shall not bring to … Continued

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

“Let them be ready for the third day; for on the third day the Lord will come down, in the sight of all the people, on Mount Sinai.” (Exodus 19:11) Parashat Yitro is the Torah’s peak moment. The Israelites are gathered around Mt. Sinai and Moses instructs them how to prepare for God’s revelation, which … Continued

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

“Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand and all the women went out after in dance with timbrels.” (Exodus 15:20) Parashat B’shalach describes the parting of the Red Sea, the Israelites’ escape, and the destruction of Pharaoh’s army. In awed gratitude, Moses leads the Israelites in Shirat Hayam, the Song … Continued

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

“Pharaoh hurriedly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ‘I stand guilty before the Lord your God and before you.’” (Exodus 10:16) The war of wills between God and Pharaoh continues in Parashat Bo, with the plagues of locusts and darkness. Then God informs Moses of the awful final plague: the death of the firstborn. But … Continued

Parashat Va’era (Exodus 6:2-9:35)

“I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage – I am Adonai.” (Exodus 6:8) Parashat Va’era is an epic battle of wills between God and Pharaoh played out through the first seven plagues: will Pharaoh let … Continued

Parashat Sh’mot (Exodus 1:1-6:1)

“And the Lord said to him, ‘Who gives man speech? Who makes him dumb or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?’” (Exodus 3:11) Parashat Sh’mot opens the book of Exodus (also called Sh’mot in Hebrew) with the Israelite’s descent into misery and slavery. Sh’mot also introduces Moses, one of the Torah’s … Continued

Parashat Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26)

“Then Israel saw Joseph’s sons and he said, “Who are these?” (Genesis 48:8) Parashat Vayechi is the last parasha (portion) in the book of Genesis. It concludes the story-cycle of Joseph and his brothers and includes Jacob’s deathbed blessings to his children. Before he does so, though, he formally adopts Menashe and Ephraim, Joseph’s two … Continued

Parashat Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27)

“God has sent me ahead of you to ensure your survival on earth, and to save your lives in an extraordinary deliverance.” (Genesis 45:7) Parashat Vayigash describes the culmination of Joseph’s extended manipulation of his brothers. Judah begs Joseph to take him as a slave instead of Benjamin for stealing Joseph’s silver goblet. Joseph can … Continued

Parashat Miketz (Genesis 41:1 – 44:17)

“And Pharoah said to his courtiers, ‘Could we find another like him, a man in whom is the spirit of God?’” (Genesis 41:38) TV and movies often use flashbacks. They interrupt the chronological narrative by introducing an earlier event which often explains plot and character development. Rabbi Stephen Cohen (Reform Rabbi at Congregation B’nai Brith … Continued