Archive | Divrei Torah

Shavuot holiday

Shavuot: Beyond Symbols

The Torah teaches that upon completing the count of the Omer, the Festival of Shavuot is celebrated (Deut. 16:9–10). In addition to commemorating the conclusion of the counting of the weeks of the Omer, Shavuot also celebrates the wheat harvest (Ex. 23:16), and is therefore known as “Ḥag HaKatzir,” the Harvest Festival. The shetei haleḥem, […]

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Opposing forces

Parshat Bamidbar: Joy and Fear

Our parsha describes the encampment of B’nei Yisrael in the wilderness. Not a detail goes by unaccounted for: the number of fighting men and the layout of the camp, tribe by tribe; the Levites, their roles and encampment. By the end of our parsha we have received a detailed blueprint of the plans for the […]

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Do the right thing.

Parshat Behar: Preserving our Spirit

In Parshat Behar, the Torah codifies a story of human tragedy. When an Israelite is sold into slavery, having to leave behind him not only his home and family but his people and his faith, the Torah commands that his family has the right and obligation to redeem him: He shall have the right of […]

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Parshat Emor: When Does The Omer Begin? National Historical Memory and Contemporary Society

וַיְדַבֵּר ה’ אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר: דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם כִּי תָבֹאוּ אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי נֹתֵן לָכֶם וּקְצַרְתֶּם אֶת קְצִירָהּ וַהֲבֵאתֶם אֶת עֹמֶר רֵאשִׁית קְצִירְכֶם אֶל הַכֹּהֵן: וְהֵנִיף אֶת הָעֹמֶר לִפְנֵי ה’ לִרְצֹנְכֶם מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת יְנִיפֶנּוּ הַכֹּהֵן… וּסְפַרְתֶּם לָכֶם מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת מִיּוֹם הֲבִיאֲכֶם אֶת עֹמֶר הַתְּנוּפָה שֶׁבַע שַׁבָּתוֹת תְּמִימֹת תִּהְיֶינָה: עַד מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת […]

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Spring Renewal

The Exodus and the Awakening of Nature

:שָׁמוֹר אֶת חֹדֶשׁ הָאָבִיב וְעָשִׂיתָ פֶּסַח לַה’ אֱ-לֹהֶיךָ כִּי בְּחֹדֶשׁ הָאָבִיב הוֹצִיאֲךָ ה’ אֱ-לֹהֶיךָ מִמִּצְרַיִם לָיְלָה :וְזָבַחְתָּ פֶּסַח לַה’ אֱ-לֹהֶיךָ צֹאן וּבָקָר בַּמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יִבְחַר ה’ לְשַׁכֵּן שְׁמוֹ שָׁם (דברים טז, א-ב) Keep the month of spring, and make the Passover offering to the Lord, your God; for in the month of spring, the Lord, […]

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Passover Seder Plate

The Role of Karpas at the Pesach Seder

What is the reason behind the “Karpas” at the Pesach Seder, and what is the significance of its name? A number of Rishonim (see Rashbam), based upon the Gemara (Pesachim 114), imply that the karpas is meant to stimulate the children to ask questions. It is not clear, however, whether that is the entire reason, […]

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Lust and Other Emotions

Parshat Tzav: Thoughts of Sin

This week’s Torah portion opens with a description of a sacrificial offering called olah, which is entirely consumed by fire. The Sages have a tradition which explains the purpose of this offering: Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai taught: The olah is brought for hirhur halev, “contemplation of the heart.” (Vayikra Rabbah 7:3) This idea is further […]

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Body and Soul in Balance

Parshat Vayikra: The Animal Within Us

People are often offended when they are compared to animals. Practically speaking, however, even one who does not believe we evolved from monkeys, recognizes that we are not different from animals in every regard. In each of us there resides an animal side. Sifra D’tzinuta – one of the oldest and most important sections of […]

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Woman Lighting Shabbat Candles

Parshat Vayakhel: Shabbat Here and Now

Six days shall you do your work and the seventh day shall be holy unto you, a Sabbath of resting to God. (Shmot 35:2) Sleeping and Waking Up If the goal of the spiritual journey is to awaken the self, then it would seem that, spiritually speaking, many people go through life “asleep.” We live […]

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Silhouettes of People Waving the Flag of Israel

Parshat Vayakhel: Connecting Jews to Judaism

I’m sure you’ve suffered it many times before: you’re at a Shabbat meal, enjoying the company of others, and then, it comes to a “pause” when someone announces: “Let’s hear a D’var Torah” / “Time for a speech” and so forth. I can’t think of anything more annoying, let alone out of place, then hearing […]

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