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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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Use these 40 days to rebuild
Shoftim, Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9
by Rabbi Barbara AB Symons
Temple David, Monroeville
Aug 12, 2010 | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend
The Jewish world just entered into the month of Elul, the final month before Rosh Hashana.  In this portion, we read: “Judges and officers you shall appoint to you (emphasis mine) ... and they shal...
On recognizing the significance of Jerusalem
Re’eh, Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17
by Rabbi Aaron Bisno
Rodef Shalom Congregation
Aug 05, 2010 | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend
The Torah portion we read this week, Re’eh, opens with God setting before the people both “blessing and curse;” the one we receive is based on how we respond to God’s commandments. How then to meri...
The everyman’s (and woman’s) Torah
Vaetchanan, Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11
by Rabbi Nosson Sachs
UPMC Shadyside Hospital
Jul 22, 2010 | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend
In synagogues everywhere we raise the Torah after we finish reading it and recite a verse from this week’s parsha: “V’zot hatorah asher sam Moshe” (This is the Torah that Moshe presented before the...
Here to hear, hear to do
Devarim, Deuteronomy 1:1 - 3:22
by Rabbi Mark Joel Mahler
Temple Emanuel of South Hills
Jul 15, 2010 | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend
As the Book of Deuteronomy begins this Shabbat, Moses and the people of Israel stand on the far side of the Jordan River. As rivers go, the Jordan is not nearly as impressive as the three rivers th...
All for one?
Mattot-Masei Numbers 30:2-36:13,28:9-15
by Rabbi Sara Rae Perman
Congregation Emanu-El Israel
Jul 08, 2010 | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend
We are at the end of the Book of Numbers. In fact, this Shabbat is a double portion. The children of Israel are preparing to enter the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. B...
God’s compassion extends to men and women alike
Pinchas, Numbers 25:10-30:1
by Rabbi Ronald B.B. Symons
Temple Sinai
Jul 01, 2010 | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend
This week’s Torah Portion, Pinchas, tells the precedent-making story of Zelophehad’s daughters. It reads: “The daughters of Zelophehad, of Manassite family — son of Hepher son of Gilead son of Mach...
Sticks and stones
Parshat Balak Numbers 22:2-25:9
by Rabbi James A. Gibson
Temple Sinai
Jun 24, 2010 | 1 1 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend
You all know the chant from our childhood: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” And when we think about it, we realize that not all childhood wisdom rings true. This ...
When a fruit is more than just a fruit
Shelach, Numbers 13:1-15:41
by Rabbi Eli Seidman
Jewish Association on Aging
Jun 03, 2010 | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend
On the ship over from Hungary to America, my wife’s grandmother encountered a banana for the first time. It may seem strange to us, but she did not even know to remove the peel before eating the fr...
Who is blessing whom?
Naso, Numbers 4:21-7:89
by Rabbi Ron Symons
Temple Sinai
May 20, 2010 | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend
May God bless You and keep You. May God enlighten you and be gracious unto you. May God’s presence be upon you and grant you shalom. The Torah ear knows no more spiritually poetic a passage, no mor...
Bamidbar, Shemot, Bereshit — what’s in a name?
New Castle Bamidbar, Numbers 1:1-4:20
by Rabbi Martin Shorr
Temple Hadar Israel, New Castle
May 13, 2010 | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend
I always bring to my congregants’ attention that the actual definitions of the names of each of the Five Books of Moses are not correct. Beginning with Bamidbar. The book is identified as Numbers i...