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Posts by Yael Warach

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

“You shall not act at all as we now act here, every man as he pleases.” (Deuteronomy 12:8) Classic rabbinic thought presumes every letter, word, and verse of the Torah is equally sacred. Still, some verses seem to carry more punch than others. Parashat R’eih opens with one such verse: “R’eih, see, this day I … Continued

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

“Further, the Lord spoke to me, saying, I have seen this people and behold, it is a stiff-necked people.” (Deuteronomy 9:13) August 2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the establishment of the slave trade in the US, the 100th anniversary of the US Congress’ failed debate to ratify the Treaty of Versailles (and the League … Continued

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

“For what great nation is there that has a god so close at hand as is the Lord our God whenever we call upon Him?” (Deuteronomy 4:7) In Parashat Va-etchanan, Moses continues to prepare the Israelites to enter the land of Canaan by recapitulating the Torah’s commandments. He tells them, “Be sure to keep the … Continued

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

“Do not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who will battle for you.” (Deuteronomy 3:22) D’varim, or Deuteronomy, the fifth and last book of the Torah documents Moses’ final words to the Israelites (comprising five long speeches) in the last year of their desert wandering. They are encamped on the steppes of … Continued

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

“So Moses, at the Lord’s bidding, instructed the Israelites, saying: ‘The plea of the Josephite tribe is just.’” (Numbers 36:2) “The Torah has seventy faces” is an essential building block of the Jewish interpretive tradition. Commentators invoke it to assign multiple (and even contradictory) meanings to the same verse. However, it also can mean the … Continued

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

“He laid his hands upon him and commissioned him— as the Lord had spoken through Moses.” (Numbers 27:23) Moses is such a towering Biblical personality it’s surprising when commentators portray him as a regular human being. In Parashat Pinchas, God informs Moses he will die after gazing out into Canaan from the heights of Avarim … Continued

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

“He perceived no iniquity in Jacob and saw no perversity in Israel. The Lord his God is with him and the friendship of the King is in him.” (Numbers 23:21) Privacy is much in the news these days. The digital behemoths’ financial models are based on their ability to track your digital footprint and sell … Continued

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

“The Kohen shall immerse himself and immerse himself in water, and afterwards he may enter the camp; and the Kohen shall remain contaminated until evening.” (Numbers 19:7) Parashat Chukat fast-forwards the Israelites 38 years to the ending of their desert journey. When the Israelites complain there is no water, God commands Moses to speak to … Continued

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

“And Moses said: From this you shall know the Lord sent me to do all these deeds; they are not from my heart.” (Numbers 16:28) Parashat Korach might be the most significant leadership case study in the Torah, but you have to read all the way to the end to understand the beginning. Korach, a … Continued

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

“And God said, “I have forgiven, because of your words.” (Numbers 14:20) The foundation of the Jewish interpretive tradition is the belief the words of the Torah are spoken by God. This endows them both with sanctity and with infinite meanings to discern (since God is infinite). Thus, every letter, word, and verse of the … Continued