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Posts by David Ackerman

Parashat Tazria-Metzora (Leviticus 12:1-15:33)

“As long as the disease is upon him, he will be ritually impure. He should remain isolated. His place should be outside the camp.” (Leviticus 13:46) We read two parashot (portions) this week because of the Jewish calendar’s nature. The moon’s cycle determines the months, but the sun’s cycle determines the year. Therefore, a Jewish … Continued

Parashat Sh’mini (Leviticus 9:1-11:47)

“Moses said, “When this thing which God has told you to carry out is done, then the glory of God will appear to you.” (Leviticus 9:6) Parashat Sh’mini describes the eighth day of Aaron and his sons’ ordination as Kohen Gadol (High Priest) and kohanim (priests), respectively. They then offer the very first sacrifices on … Continued

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

“Aaron and his sons did everything that God commanded through Moses.” (Lev. 8:36) Parashat Tzav adds more details to the instructions for performance of the sacrifices introduced in last week’s parasha (portion). It concludes with Aaron’s and his sons’ ordination as kohanim (priests). Tzav commands the kohanim, “You should not leave the entrance of the … Continued

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

“When any of you presents an offering of cattle to the LORD, you shall choose your offering from the herd or from the flock.” (Leviticus 1:2) Vayikra (“And he called”) is the name of this week’s parasha (portion) and the entire third (and central) book of the Torah. It gives detailed instructions to the kohanim, … Continued

Parashat Vayakhel-P’kudei (Exodus 35:1-40:38)

“So the whole community of the Israelites left Moses’ presence.” (Exodus 35:20) If Parashat Vayakhel were happening this week, it would have been cancelled last week. Vayakhel begins with, “And Moses assembled kol, the whole, Israelite community…” (Exodus 35:1) In a period of social distancing, quarantine, and sheltering in place, a gathering of 603,500 Israelites, … Continued

Parashat T’tzaveh (Exodus 27:20-30:10)

“Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron, for glory and splendor.” (Exodus 28:2) Every verse in the Torah is sacred, but some verses pack more punch than others. Parashat T’zaveh opens with, “V’ata t’tzaveh, Now you shall command the children of Israel to take for you pure olive oil, katit lamaor, beaten for illumination, l’haalot … Continued

Parashat T’rumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19)

“Place the cover on top of the Ark, after depositing inside the Ark the Pact that I will give you.” (Exodus 25:21) Parashat T’rumah introduces a complicated building project: the mishkan, or Tabernacle. It requires a variety of sumptuous materials. Most are familiar (gold, silver, copper, wood, wool, linen, ram skins) but one is a … Continued

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

“Three times a year you shall hold a festival for Me.” (Exodus 23:14) Parashat Mishpatim follows the revelation of the Torah at Mt. Sinai with a list of 52 mitzvot, or commandments, defining personal responsibility. Moses then erects an altar, offers a sacrifice, and reads the covenant to the people one more time. They respond, … Continued

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

“All the people answered as one, saying, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do!’ And Moses brought back the people’s words to the Lord.” (Exodus 19:8) Parashat Yitro (named for Moses’ father-in-law, Yitro, a Midianite priest) describes the revelation of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, affirming the brit, God’s covenant with Abraham, with … Continued

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