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Posts by David Ackerman

Parashat Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18)

“They called Rebecca and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.” (Genesis 24:58) The Torah is typically parsimonious with words, so why is Parashat Chayei Sarah so gabby? Abraham sends his servant, Eliezer, to find a wife for Isaac, his son. First, Eliezer devises his plan (Gen. … Continued

Parashat Vayera (Genesis 18:1-22:24)

“Avraham journeyed from there to the land of the Negev, and he lived between Kadesh and Shur.” (Genesis 20:1) If “honesty is the best policy” why does God fudge the truth in Parashat Vayera? Abram and Sarai are visited by three strangers (angels, actually). When Sarai overhears one of them tell Abram she will have … Continued

Parashat Lekh Lekha (Genesis 12:1-17:27)

“And Abram moved his tent and came an dwelled in the plains of Mamrei which are in Hebron; and he built there an altar to Adonai.” (Genesis 13:18) In Parashat Lekh Lekha, God picks Abram out of obscurity, sends him on a quest to some unspecified location, and commits to an enduring relationship. Abram (renamed … Continued

Parashat Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32)

“Noah was six hundred years old when the flood came, waters upon the earth.” (Genesis 7:6) Yehuda Kurzer (President of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America) says we read our ancient texts for the light they shed on contemporary life. Parashat Noach is a good example. It is only the second parasha, or portion, … Continued

Parashat B’reishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8)

“The Lord God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to till it and tend it.” (Genesis 2:15) Here we go again. Parashat B’reishit begins the annual cycle of Torah reading by describing the origins of the world. God places Adam and Eve in Gan Eiden, the Garden of Eden, a … Continued

Parashat Ha-azinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52)

“And Moses came and spoke all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he and Hoshea, son of Nun.” (Deuteronomy 32:44) Parashat Ha-azinu is the next-to-last parasha, or portion, in the Torah. Moses informs the people he is about to die and bids them farewell. He tells them they will abandon the … Continued

Parashat Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy) 26:1-29:8

“You are to guard the tenets of this covenant and fulfill them, in order that you succeed in everything that you do.” (Deuteronomy 29:8) Parashat Ki Tavo opens with the ritual of offering bikkurim, the first fruits of the land, and continues with yet another listing of the blessings the Israelites will receive by following … Continued

Parashat Ki Teitzei (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19)

“Do not despise the Edomite, for he is your brother; do not despise the Egyptian, for you were a stranger in his land.” (Deuteronomy 23:9) Parashat Ki Teitzei incudes the case of the ben sorer umoreh, the wayward and rebellious son who is brought before the town elders, accused, convicted, and executed (Deut. 21:18-21). It … Continued

Parashat Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9)

“You must be wholehearted with the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 18:13) The Torah is a blueprint for an ideal society. Parashat Shoftim asserts an ideal society must be a just society and then outlines what that means. Shoftim commands the Israelites, “Judges and officers titein l’cha, shall you give (or appoint) yourself… … and they … Continued