Parsha Shemot: Removing our Shoes

The continued relevance of G-d’s one-liners never cease to impress me, and this week’s parsha (torah portion), Shemot (“names”), is no exception. Shemot tells the story typically spoken of during Passover. The Egyptians have enslaved the people of Israel, and Pharaoh has commanded the midwives to put newborn baby boys to death in the Nile […]

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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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Parsha Mishpatim

This week’s parsha, or weekly Torah portion, is called Mishpatim, meaning “rules” or “ordinances.” The majority of the parsha consists of 53 commandments that G-d informs the Israelites they must follow if they are to truly be G-d’s people. Of these commandments, 23 are mitzvot, instructing the Israelites on how they should behave, and 30 […]

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Parsha Va’era

This week’s parsha, or weekly Torah portion, Va’era, is the second parsha in Exodus, the book detailing the Israelites’ exodus from slavery under Pharaoh to freedom. “Va’era” means “I appeared” or “I let Myself be seen.”  God says “Va’era” to Moses, as in, “I let Myself be seen by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” and by this, God means something […]

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Shemot: Driving Out Fear and Self-Doubt

This week’s parsha, Shemot (“Names”), might be a familiar one, as it’s the beginning not only of the book of Exodus but of the story we tell every year at Passover. A lot happens in this parsha; the Israelites are enslaved in Egypt by a fearful Pharaoh who orders all newborn Hebrew boys thrown into […]

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Creating Community – Parsha Ki Tavo

The last few paragrahs of this week’s parsha, “Ki Tavo” (in English: “when you enter”) are rather off-putting. Following a discussion of four rituals that the Israelites must obey upon entry into Promised Land, Moses reviews a litany of horrible, horrible curses that the Israelites face if they fail to comply. Numbering in the dozens, […]

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Having a Conversation with the Universe – Parsha Tzav

The parsha deals with the offerings and sacrifices that G-d has deemed necessary for Aaron and his sons to become holy and prove their worth as priests to the Israelites. Moses receives and delivers the message of G-d, an intermediary.  When Moses was born and cast into the Nile, he was retrieved by Pharaoh’s daughter […]

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Re’eh – See!

Parsha Re’eh – ראה – Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17 This week’s parsha, Re’eh, begins with the line “See (re’eh), I place before you today a blessing and a curse.” Basically, Moses is offering the Israelites two options: follow the rules and be blessed; abandon God and be cursed. Moses instructs the people on the laws of the […]

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