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Rabbi’s Shabbat Message

Rabbi Ariel’s Shabbat message is delivered to the congregation in our weekly e-newsletter. You can also use the links below to visit the Rabbi’s blog, Torah for the 21st Century.

Torah for the 21st Century

This too is Torah, and I need to learn it

Shabbat Shelakh L’kha: There Are People Living There

Posted: June 10, 2018, 9:56 pm
Once again, the scouts of Sh’lakh-L’kha are left holding the bag. Every year around this time we Jews who engage in weekly Torah study again reach this story, of the moment when our ancestors stood at the verge of the land they had traveled to find, the land of their ancestral home. Scouts sent ahead … Continue reading

Shabbat BeHa’alot’kha: Lift It Up

Posted: June 1, 2018, 8:33 pm
Last week the parashah began with the command to lift up every face; this week, the word beha’alot’kha, “in your lifting up” refers to raising up the lights of the menorah, the seven-branched lamp designed by G*d, according to Jewish tradition, to illuminate the holy place. To lift up the face is to see the … Continue reading

Shabbat Naso: Look Me In The Eye

Posted: May 29, 2018, 3:50 pm
The word that identifies this week’s Torah text is naso, part of the idiom naso et rosh, is correctly translated “take a census,” or, more simply, “count heads.” The actual Hebrew wording is more beautiful; it literally says “lift up the head.” In other words, for our ancestors, to count someone was to look that person in the eye, and to … Continue reading

Shabbat BaMidbar and Shavuot 5778: Into The Wilderness

Posted: May 18, 2018, 6:35 pm
Our parashat hashavua is called after the name of the book it opens, BaMidbar, “in the wilderness.” The first verse is both simple and completely mysterious: וַיְדַבֵּר ה’ אֶל-מֹשֶׁה בְּמִדְבַּר סִינַי G‑d spoke to Moshe in the wilderness of Sinai (1:1) This is the Shabbat before Shavuot, the Festival on which we commemorate the day when the … Continue reading

Shabbat BeHar-BeHukotai: Love Your Mother

Posted: May 11, 2018, 9:29 pm
This week we finish reading the Book VaYikra, Leviticus, with another double parashat hashavua. The name of the first of the two, BeHar, offers already a nice little learning. The word behar, actually three words in English, means “at the mountain” and refers to Mount Sinai. The first verse goes on to specify: וַיְדַבֵּר ה’ אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, … Continue reading

Shabbat Emor: Against the Cruelty

Posted: May 4, 2018, 10:04 pm
In this second year of the Triennial Cycle of Torah reading, our congregation, like many others throughout the Jewish world, begins to read not at the beginning of parashat Emor but with chapter 22, verse 17. This is about one-third of the way in, since the Triennial Cycle makes its way through one third of each … Continue reading

Shabbat Akharey Mot-Kedoshim: In All This Death, Where Is Holiness? Right Here at the Door

Posted: April 27, 2018, 9:31 pm
How often does Torah arouse human beings, how often does she raise her voice in every direction to awaken them! Yet they all sleep, with slumber in their sockets, neither observing nor caring….Woe to them, woe to their souls! For Torah admonishes them, saying, “Whoever is a fool let him turn aside here, the one … Continue reading

Shabbat Tazria-Metzora: Lift Every Voice

Posted: April 20, 2018, 9:29 pm
Why does the mind so often choose to fly away at the moment the word waited for all one’s life is about to be spoken?  (Alice Walker, The Temple of My Familiar) This week we have a Torah double-header. Our parashat hashavua (Torah text for this week) is two: both Tazria and Metzora. Both refer to … Continue reading

Shabbat Shemini: Not Why. How.

Posted: April 13, 2018, 7:51 pm
Our parashat hashavua this week brings us back to our regularly scheduled Torah text after two weeks devoted to special Pesakh Torah. We are back to the Book VaYikra, or Leviticus, and expect nothing more or less than the initiation of the mishkan (the sacred space the Israelites created in the wilderness) with the first … Continue reading

Shabbat and Pesakh and more, oh my!

Posted: April 6, 2018, 8:26 pm
Hag sameakh! Today and tomorrow are hagim, holy days that end our Pesakh Festival. Jewish offices are closed today and tomorrow, and Passover ends tomorrow evening at sundown with the end of Shabbat. On this Shabbat, the Shemini or 8th day of the holiday, we depart from our usual Torah parashat hashavua (reading of the week) and read … Continue reading

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