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Posts by David Ackerman

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

“Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water.”  (Leviticus 8:6) Parashat Tzav provides very detailed instructions for performing each of the sacrifices listed in Parashat Vayikra last week.  It’s puzzling, then, to read, “For when I freed your fathers from the land of Egypt, I did not speak with them … Continued

Parashat Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1-5:26)

“If your offering is a grain offering in a pan, it shall be made of choice flour in oil.”  (Leviticus 2:7) A Sefer Torah, or Torah scroll, is written without any punctuation or markings for sentences, paragraphs, or chapters.  So it’s a bit surprising to encounter several lines of blank space between the end of … Continued

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

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