Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Divrei Torah

Why Ask Why?

Pesach (Passover) is filled with the ponderous joys of ancient rituals. After the initial Kiddush follows the ritual of washing our hands, cutting Matzah, having it stolen by kids, having them hold us hostage, refusing to return it until they get what they want. Somewhere in all of this is also dipping a vegetable in salt water, uncovering

Dead Bread

Most of our Jewish holidays have formal names used in biblical texts and a more colloquial name used in rabbinic literature and conversations. For example, the Torah calls the first day of the seventh month (Tishrei), Yom Hazikaron or the Day of Remembrance, of course we call that day Rosh Hashanah. Similarly, the holiday which we call

Elijah Eternities - Shabbat Hagadol-5775

Here in southwest Connecticut, Rabbi Daniel Cohen created a beautiful atmosphere a few months back with a campaign called Elijah Moments. Together with a local minister, Pastor Gregory Doll of Noroton Presbyterian Church, Rabbi Cohen turned visits to a local bakery and coffee shops into spiritual experiences by paying for another’s cup of

Give Me Your Blemished, Your Dedicated, Your Uneducated, Your Assigned and Your Grateful

A project in memory of Baruch Leib haKohen b. Mordechai Yidel ve-Dobba Chaya.

The Blemished

Our parasha continues the discussion of sacrifices, and 6;11 mentions that every male among Aharon’s descendants can eat the parts of the menachot, the flour

Tzav - Pulling Back the Curtain

The book of Vayikra began with a detailed listing of the different sacrifices that a person could bring, and the laws that pertain to them. Somewhat surprisingly, then, the Torah seems to repeat itself in this week’s parsha, listing once again all of the sacrifices and how they are to be brought. What is the point of

A Broadway Exodus

Our story opens after Joseph was given an Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He was then sold to the Midianites and taken to Egypt. Potiphar wanted a slave and one of the lshmelites said, I Can Get It for You Wholesale.  Joseph soon became second to the King of Egypt, or as the King put it,

Time of One: Vayakhel-Pikudei-5775

To Chasidim, Shabbat is much more than just a time for recharging batteries. It is central to their lives and their philosophy. Over the years I’ve come to love trying to unravel the Torah thoughts of the Sfat Emet, the second Rebbe of Gur, and one of the things I’ve noticed is how many of these divrei Torah move inexorably towards a

Five Rashis: Building the Mishkan in the Right Time, With the Right Contributors

A project in memory of Baruch Leib HaKohen b. Mordechai Yidel ve-Dobba Chaya.

Fire on Shabbat

Early in this week’s parsha, Moshe reminds the people of the obligation to keep Shabbat, including abstaining from melacha, creative labor, and

The Enemy

It’s sort of cool when the Torah reading of Titzave coincides with the special reading of Zachor, which reminds us of the obligation to obliterate the nation of Amalek. That’s because there’s a famous Midrash at the beginning of Titzave which reminds us of the symbolism of making extremely pure olive oil for use in the holy Temple.

Parashat Tezaveh: To Carry the Names Before God

The Kohanim hold a lofty position among the Jewish People. They are the ones who serve before God in the Beit HaMikdash, who protect the Temple, and who administer and execute all of its functions. As such, they are a permanent part of the Temple. When one enters the Temple, what he or she expects to see is the glorious structure itself,

Five Rashis, Tetzaveh: It All Comes Together

A project in memory of Baruch Leib HaKohen b. Mordechai Yidel ve-Dobba Chaya

Three times in this parsha, the Torah uses the word tamid which means always but, as Rashi points out, has various connotations. In 27;20, the Torah speaks of using pure oil for a Ner Tamid a permanent light,

Rabbi’s Musings and Amusings

Music of the Soul

Background music; it’s practically everywhere. You can hardly go shopping anywhere without music playing overhead as you browse through the merchandise in a store. In fact, you can probably learn a lot about a store, like what kind of clientele it hopes to

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