Parashat Tzav

It’s wonderful having an office overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem. When the weather is nice I sometimes skip lunch in favor of exploring the winding alleys of Jerusalem. It’s an opportunity for a bit of much needed exercise in addition to amazing people watching and window shopping. During one of these recent lunchtime outings […]

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This Shabbat has a special name. It is called Shabbat Ha-Chodesh, the Sabbath of The Month, the month being Nissan when we will celebrate the beginning of Jewish history, as we participate in the celebration of Passover, two weeks from now.  According to Tractate Rosh Hashanah of the Mishna Rosh Chodesh Nisan is one of […]

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There seems to be a growing gap between Israeli and Diaspora Jews – whether the issue is controversy over the egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, or over the attempts of the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate to gain a monopoly over conversions, or over the growing racism among sectors of the population. Was there ever a time […]

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Parashat Ki Tisa 5778

This Torah portion is known for its story of the Golden Calf, built when Moshe failed to return from the mountain on exactly the 40th day as expected. The people panicked, thought Moshe was dead, and that God had abandoned them. Aaron, ever the peace-lover, reasoned that the people needed a visible symbolic representation of God […]

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Dvar Torah Parashat Tetzaveh

My brother-in-law has many talents. In addition to playing the banjo, he’s a builder and carpenter; attorney specializing in environmental issues; and all around good guy. But his passion is olive farming. This year, with the help of volunteers from around the world as well as extended friends and family from our home at Kibbutz […]

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Dvar Torah Parashat Terumah

“Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” (Exodus 25.8) Synagogue building projects owe much to this week’s Torah portion, Terumah, which begins by outlining the principle that everyone is invited to donate freely to the construction of the Tabernacle. Moses is instructed by God to let all the Israelites give […]

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Face to face with an eye for an eye

This week’s Torah portion, Mishpatim, abounds in legal statements.  No wonder – its very name can be translated as legal ordinances. Legal norms in Mishpatim cover a wide spectrum of topics, ranging from treatment of slaves and socially disadvantaged individuals to observance of Shabbat and festivals. According to Sefer HaHinuch, a medieval treatise enumerating and […]

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Thoughts on Parashat Yitro

Moral norms: objective, conventional or subjective? One by now classical problem of Western philosophical thought is the dispute regarding the nature of moral norms – whether they are in essence objective or perhaps conventional – that is established based on a social contract – or if maybe they are something utterly subjective. Various thinkers have […]

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Dvar Torah Beshalach

The Sidra this week starts with a violent expulsion – something which many translations don’t really make clear and even the Hebrew seems to make milder than it really was. ”Beshallach” means ”’On his sending away” and the full sentence is ”When Pharaoh sent away the people, God did not lead them through the land […]

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