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Posts by David Ackerman

Parashat D’varim (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22)

“I said to you at that time, saying, ‘I cannot carry you alone.’” (Deuteronomy 1:9) Parashat D’varim opens the Torah’s fifth and final book. Moses no longer speaks with a “heavy tongue” (Ex. 4:10) and he now delivers five speeches, powerfully and poetically. He reminds the Israelites of their lack of faith and complaining during … Continued

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

“Moses, Elazar the Priest, and all the leaders of the assembly went out to meet them outside the camp.” (Numbers 31:13) July 9, 2018 is the 150th anniversary of the adoption of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. Section 1 promises all people in the US (not just citizens) the right to both due … Continued

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

“These are the ones counted by Moses and Elazar the Priest, who counted the Children of Israel in the plains of Moab, by the Jordan, near Jericho.” (Numbers 26:63) God commands Moses in Parashat Pinchas to conduct another census of the Israelites (Num. 26:2). This will serve as the basis for the allocation of land … Continued

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

“Bilam raised his eyes and saw Israel dwelling according to its tribes, and the spirit of God was upon him.” (Numbers 24:2) Parashat Balak is one of only six parashot, or portions, named for a person. Balak is a Moabite king who fears the wandering Israelites and therefore hires Bilam, a local prophet, to curse … Continued

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

“And Moses did as the Lord had commanded; and they went up to Mount Hor before the eyes of all the congregation.” (Numbers 20:27) Parashat Chukat contains the fateful episode when Moses strikes the rock to bring forth water (Num. 20:11). Because God had commanded him only to speak to the rock, God decrees Moses … Continued

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

“Moses then brought out all the staffs from before the Lord to all the Israelites; each identified and recovered his staff.” (Numbers 17:24) Parashat Korach opens with Korach, a Levite, accusing Moses of vanity and of setting himself above the community (Num. 16:3). Despite Moses’ efforts to forestall the rebellion, Korach and his 250 grumblers … Continued

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

“So Moses, by the Lord’s command, sent them out from the wilderness of Paran, all the men being leaders of the Israelites.” (Num. 13:3) Sh’lach l’cha is a fateful parasha (portion). God tells Moses, “Sh’lach l’cha anashim, send for yourself men to scout the land of Canaan…” (Num. 13:1). While they bring back positive reports … Continued

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

“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Take the Levites from among the Israelites and purify them.’” (Numbers 8:5) Parashat B’ha-alot’cha describes the final preparations for leaving Sinai: the purification of the Levites, the order of the tribes, and the trumpet calls to signal the people (Num. 10:11-28). Then it presents a brief, puzzling interlude: Moses asks … Continued

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