Parsha Naso: How Am I Different?

This week’s Torah portion, or parsha, is Naso, which means “take up” and refers to taking a census of the Gershonites, a clan of the Israelite tribe of Levi, who will be responsible for certain tasks in the Tabernacle, the sanctuary they can pack up and carry along with them. In our parsha, there is […]

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Parsha Pekudei: Finding G-d in the Details

The name of this week’s Torah portion, Pekudei, means “accounts,” and refers to the listing of the materials used to build the Tabernacle, the portable sanctuary in which G-d will dwell while the Israelites are in the wilderness. This week’s Torah portion is the last in the book of Exodus, and in it, the Tabernacle […]

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Parsha Chayei Sarah: Chesed in Brooklyn

This week’s Torah portion, or parsha, is called Chayei Sarah, meaning “the life of Sarah”, is so named because its first few words tell us that Sarah lived 127 years. The Torah portion then proceeds with the story of Sarah and her husband Abraham’s family. One section of the portion tells us that Abraham sent […]

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Balak: Seeing Things More Clearly

This week’s parsha, or Torah portion, comes from the book of Numbers and is called Balak, so named for the king of Moab who features prominently in this particular story. The Israelites had settled in Moab and Balak, intimidated and disgusted by their numbers, sent for the prophet Balaam to come to Moab and curse the Jews. […]

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Parsha Tzav: Jumping In

This week’s parsha, or weekly Torah portion, is Tzav, which means “command.” In this parsha, G-d provides Moses with instructions, or commandments, to impart to Aaron and Aaron’s sons, who will officially become the kohanim, or priests, of the community after their ordination. These commandments include making sure that the altar’s flame is perpetually burning, and […]

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Vayakhel & Pekudei: The Clothing of Intention

This week’s Torah portion is a double dose of wisdom. We read both Vayakhel and Pekudei. With that, we complete the book of Exodus. In these two portions, Moses assembles the Jewish people and gives them G-d’s directions for making the mishkan, or tabernacle. At the outset, Moses reminds them of the commandment to observe […]

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Parsha Vayigash: Letting go of Resentment

Vayigash, Hebrew for “and he drew near”, recounts the story of how Joseph was reunited with his brothers in Egypt. Many years after they sold him into slavery, Joseph has risen to be the second most powerful man in Egypt, behind only Pharaoh himself. His brothers have traveled from Canaan to Egypt to bring back […]

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Parsha Vayishlach: Re-naming Ourselves

This week’s parsha, or weekly Torah portion, is Vayishlach, which means “and he sent.” In this parsha, Jacob sends messengers to his estranged brother Esau because he wants to reconcile. The messengers return with the terrifying news that Esau will soon arrive with four hundred men, and that Jacob has reason to be worried. Jacob takes various precautions […]

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Parshat Eikev: On Metaphorical Consequence

Parshat Eikev is a fundamental parsha [Torah portion], as it sets out the basis for what binds our people together. The foundations of our practice begin with the Shema, “Hear O Israel, the Eternal is our G-d, the Eternal is One”. The full Shema is more than those six words. The opening declaration is followed […]

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God’s face: Loving-kindness meditation and the Birkat Kohanim (Priests’ Blessing)

I grew up calling it “dukhening”, the Yiddish term. Formally, it’s the Birkat Kohanim, in Hebrew, or Priestly Blessing, in English. I can’t think of any other moment in a synagogue service that feels anything like the Birkat Kohanim. For me as a kid, it was melodramatic and powerful and mysterious and that drama was […]

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