The Power of Words

Parshat Tetzaveh: The Good Words

Clothes Make the Man As Mark Twain says, “clothes make the man.” Clothes can indicate social status or community affiliation, and can even have an impact on our own self awareness. Parshat Tetzaveh describes the special outfits that Kohanim wore while carrying out their service in the Mishkan. According to the Midrash, the clothes of […]

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Controlled Puppets

Parshat Terumah: The Puppet Theater of God

Parshat Terumah opens with the verse “Speak to the people of Israel and take [for] Me a contribution from every person whose heart moves him…” Sefer HaBahir, an ancient kabalistic work, offers a bold interpretation of this pasuk. On the simplest level, it is a command to contribute toward the building of the mishkan. But […]

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Scales of Justice

Parshat Mishpatim: Who Deserves Justice?

Everybody is talking about peace, nobody is talking about justice.” Contrary to the Israeli rock singer Muki’s complaint, the Torah, at least, is very concerned with justice. Parshat Mishpatim is dedicated to the values of justice and law, and its location in the biblical story indicates the subject’s centrality and importance. The previous parsha, Parshat […]

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Israeli Lawyer

Parshat Mishpatim: Does Halakha Permit Recourse to Israeli Civil Courts?

In recent years, the relationship between segments of the religious community and Israel’s civil courts has been fraught with tension over rulings by the Supreme Court perceived by some as antagonistic to religious values or institutions. This friction stems partly from those in the judiciary who are determined to preserve the democratic nature of the […]

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Ten commandments in Marble

Parshat Yitro: The Balancing Act

The encounter with the Divine is often frightening and awesome (in the original sense of the rather than its use in modern day teenager slang). As described in the Bible, it often overwhelms the person physically, emotionally and psychologically. Similar descriptions of divine encounters are found in other cultures and in the literature of religious […]

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Help yourself and help others

Parshat Yitro: The Limits of Giving

Yitro, Moshe’s father-in-law, is one of the most positive characters in the Torah. In the portion which bears his name, we see that even Moshe has something to learn from him. The portion begins with a joyous family reunion. Yitro reunites Moshe with his wife and his children, Yitro’s daughter and grandsons, and the Torah […]

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Painting of Horse

Parshat Beshalach: Life as Art

Once there was a painter who decided the time had come to create his masterpiece. Shunning the accepted trend of his time, he decided that rather than paint a portrait of the king, as all great artists did, he would create something more interesting: A life-size portrait of the king’s horse. For many years he […]

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Choosing Good or Bad

Parshat Beshalach: Amalek and Moral Relativism

וַיִּבֶן מֹשֶׁה מִזְבֵּחַ וַיִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ ה’ נִסִּי: וַיֹּאמֶר כִּי יָד עַל כֵּס יָ-הּ מִלְחָמָה לַה’ בַּעֲמָלֵק מִדֹּר דֹּר (שמות יז, טו-טז) “Then Moses built an altar, and he named it The Lord Is My Miracle. And he said, “For there is a hand on the throne of the Eternal, [that there shall be] a war […]

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Boy Reading Torah

We Need to Offer Halachically Acceptable Bar Mitzvah Celebrations for Children With Mental Disabilities

The Beit Hillel rabbinic organization has initiated a public campaign within the religious communities to encourage bar mitzvah celebrations in synagogues across the country for children with mental disabilities and developmental issues. For years, Orthodox synagogues in Israel rarely offered disabled children the opportunity to enjoy a bar mitzvah celebration. Now, Beit Hillel wants to […]

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Prayer of Jews at Western Wall

Parshat Va’era – The Unity of Moshe and Aharon

There are many intriguing facets of Moshe’s life story. Our earliest introduction is his being sent away by his biological family. Not much later, we read about him fleeing his adopted family. Perhaps, then, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we find him employed as a shepherd, wandering alone through the wide expanses of Midian, […]

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