Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Divrei Torah

Five Rashis, Tazria: It’s Mostly About Tsara’at

Parashat Tazria deals with fairly technical issues, the rituals around a woman’s recovery from childbirth, and tsara’at, is commonly (and, likely, inaccurately) translated as leprosy. I tried for Rashis that wouldn’t be too detail-oriented, but that also wouldn’t misrepresent the parsha. I hope you find them productive.

The Suffering of the Righteous

Not unlike stock market analysts trying to explain the reasons behind the recent volatility, Chazal posits at least six suggestions for why tzaraas manifests itself (Arakhin 16a). Whenever multiple reasons are given for a phenomenon it’s a good indicator that no single reason is entirely satisfactory. (See, for example, chazal’s attempt

Getting Out of Egypt: What It Would Have Taken

I start here with a dark side tradition saw in the Exodus story. By investing a little time and discomfort, I believe we can find our way to a relevant and uplifting message, a comforting way forward fully within our reach, if we choose to take advantage of it.

He Wouldn’t Have Gotten

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.

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