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Posts by David Ackerman

Parashat R’eih (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:12)

“Everyone according to what he can give, according to the blessing that Adonai, your God, gives you.” (Deuteronomy 16:17) Entering “Sigmund Freud” into your web browser yields over 13 million sites. But Freud’s theory of personality can be summarized in just five words: Life is a mixed bag. That insight is not original to Freud, … Continued

Parashat Eikev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25)

“You will eat and you will be satisfied, and bless Adonai, your God, for the good land He has given you.” (Deuteronomy 8:10) Parashat Eikev is sneaky. On the surface it’s all about reward and punishment. Underneath, though, it’s really about human nature. Eikev presents the Israelites with a choice: follow the Torah and be … Continued

Parashat Va-etchanan (Deut. 3:23-7:11)

“You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor shall you subtract from it, to observe the commandments of Adonai, your God, that I command you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2) In Parashat Va-etchanan, Moses prepares the Israelites to enter the land of Canaan by teaching the laws of the Torah. He begins by repeating … Continued

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

“Get, from each of your tribes, wise men, understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them heads over you.” (Deuteronomy 1:13) Parashat D’varim reunites the Jewish people. Not the Israelites in the desert; they’ve been together since leaving Egypt. Rather, today’s Jewish people. Two different calendars for reading the weekly parasha, or … Continued

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

“This shall be for you a decree of justice for your generations, in all your dwelling places.” (Numbers 35: 29) August 25, 2016 is the centennial anniversary of the Organic Act, creating the National Park Service. National parks, of course, predate the act (Yellowstone National Park is the oldest, dating to 1872). The National Park … Continued

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

“God said to Moses, ”Take to yourself Joshua, son of Nun, a man in whom there is spirit, and lean your hand upon him.” (Numbers 27:18) Parashat Pinchas is when God confirms to Moses he will get a glimpse of the Land of Canaan before he dies but will not enter it (Num. 27:12-13). Moses … Continued

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

“It is God who brought them out of Egypt according to the power of his loftiness.” (Numbers 23:22) Parashat Balak combines high drama and farce: Balak, king of Moab, hires Bilaam, the local seer, to curse the Israelites. Along the way, Bilaam’s donkey sees what Bilaam doesn’t (God’s angel blocking the way) and bests him … Continued

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

“When the entire assembly saw that Aaron had perished, they wept for Aaron thirty days, the entire house of Israel.” (Numbers 20:29) Parashat Chukat inspires a startling rabbinic statement about God. In the wake of Miriam’s death, Moses must provide water for the Israelites and hits a rock to do so. Since this violates God’s … Continued

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

“Moses laid the staffs before God in the Tent of the Testimony.” (Numbers 17:22) Parashat Korach is perhaps the juiciest leadership parable in the Torah, but you have to dig a little to get the deeper messages. Korach, a Levite, accuses Moses of vanity and of setting himself above the community (Num. 16:3). Despite Moses’ … Continued

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

“And Caleb stilled the people before Moses and said, ‘Let us go up at once and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.’” (Numbers 13:30) Shlach L’cha introduces the mitzvah, or commandment of tzitzit, or ritual fringes (Num. 15:38). On the surface, it’s pretty straightforward: make tzitzit and attach them to the … Continued