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torah commentary
Why is this Shabbat Different from All Other Shabbatot?
Parshat Acharei Mot/Shabbat haGadol – Leviticus 16:1-18:30 One of the primary features of this week’s parshah, Acharei Mot, is the description of the rituals by which Aaron, the high priest, would ...
Apr 10, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend
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You changed my sackcloth into robes of joy
For more than half my lifetime I have done my best to help victims of violent crimes in their struggle to recover. I have counseled rape, murder, terrorist and abuse victims spiritually, emotionall...
Apr 03, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend
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New moon, new months
Tazria Leviticus 9:1-11:47 The first Passover Seder is nearly upon us. How do we know? No need to look at the calendar; go outside and look at the moon. As our ancestors did, we too can look at the...
Mar 27, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend
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That last bite of matzah has a special message
Shemini, Leviticus 9:1-11:47 The countdown to Passover is on. With that in mind, what will we do this year to make Passover less about food — especially decadent chocolate cakes preceded by a multi...
Mar 19, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend
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The Purim paradox: Now more than ever
Shabbat Zachor, Leviticus 6:1-8:36 One of my rabbis in seminary told this story: While serving as an Army chaplain, a soldier professed to him, “I believe every word in the Bible!” The rabbi replie...
Mar 12, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend
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Little alephs need our help
Vayikra, Leviticus 1:1-5:26 In this week’s parshah, which is the beginning of the book of Leviticus, we have something very unusual in the Torah scroll.  The first word, Vayikra, which means “And H...
Mar 06, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend
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Archives
Wearing tzitzit a suka of peace
by Cantor Michal Gray-Schaffer, Congregation B’nai Abraham, Butler
May 30, 2013 | 0 0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend
Shelach Lecha, Numbers 13:1–15:41 This week’s parsha contains the well-known story of the 12 spies sent into Canaan to assess the strength of the indigenous people and the productivity of the land....
No inconsequential kindness
by Rabbi Nosson Sachs, UPMC Shadyside
May 23, 2013 | 0 0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend
Beha-Alotekha, Numbers 8:1-12:16 When Miriam the prophetess sinned and was afflicted with tza’raas [a spiritual ‘leprosy-like’ disease], she was required to remain outside the camp. During her reco...
Broken promises addressed by Torah
by Rabbi Martin William Shorr, Temple Hadar Israel, New Castle
May 17, 2013 | 2 2 comments | 45 45 recommendations | email to a friend
Naso, Numbers 4:21-7:89 Parsha Naso is interesting. While a great deal of the sedra refers to its name, identifying the offerings and count of the leaders of each tribe, or nasiam, there are isolat...
Our firstborn no longer belong to God
by Rabbi Alex Greenbaum, Beth El Congregation of the South Hills
May 09, 2013 | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend
Bamidbar, Numbers 1:1-4:20 Once upon a time, a long time ago, every firstborn belonged to God. We were always supposed to give the first of all “our fruits” to God, literally. Now, let’s go way bac...
Shabbat as a utopian ideal
by Rabbi Aaron Bisno, Rodef Shalom Congregation
May 02, 2013 | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend
Behar-Behukotai, Leviticus 25:1-27:34 This week’s Torah reading is drawn from a double portion, Behar-Behukotai. Behar is associated with the laws of sabbatical; that is, we are instructed to allow...
You kiss your mother with that mouth? Blasphemy then and now
by Rabbi Scott Aaron, Agency for Jewish Learning
Apr 25, 2013 | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend
Parshat Emor, Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23 This week’s portion ends with a troubling story of blasphemy, social isolation and death.  (I know … a lot of our Torah portions have troubling stories of blasp...
‘Can’t we all just get along?’
by Rabbi James Gibson, Temple Sinai
Apr 18, 2013 | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend
Achare Mot–Kedoshim, Leviticus 16:1-20:27 Those famous words, “Can’t we all just get along?” were plaintively said by Rodney King, whose beating at the hands of the Los Angeles Police more than 20 ...
Getting it together
by Rabbi Joe Hample, Tree of Life Congregation, Morgantown, W.Va.
Apr 10, 2013 | 1 1 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend
Tazria-Metzora, Leviticus 12:1-15:33 Just between you and me, I feel a lot of ambivalence.  I’m full of faith and doubt, calm and stress, gloom and hope.  I’m an introverted extrovert, a sloppy per...
That which enters your mouth is also important
by Rabbi David Novitsky, Beth Israel Congregation, Washington, Pa
Apr 04, 2013 | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend
Shemini, Leviticus 9:1-11:47 There are those who believe that the Jewish dietary laws were given to the people of Israel primarily for health concerns.  They maintain that the unclean animals enume...
A lingering lesson
by Rabbi Jessica Locketz, Temple Emanuel of South Hills
Mar 29, 2013 | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend
Chol Hamoed Pesach Without a doubt, Passover is my favorite holiday. Food was always at the center of my family’s celebration and remembrance of our people’s journey from slavery to freedom (yours ...