Torah Commentaries

Chukat – Three Children of Amram, Two Strange Cows, and A Perpetual Living Stream

June 19, 2018
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Chukat – Three Children of Amram, Two Strange Cows, and A Perpetual Living Stream

Listen to an audio version Parashat Chukat is among the most enigmatic in all of Torah. While it gives closure to the lives of Moses siblings, it opens three new mysteries in the fabric of Israel’s, story, a peculiar ordinance, an odd deliverance, and a strange brand of justice. Though I won’t discuss them...
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Korach – You Say You Want a Revolution

June 12, 2018
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Korach – You Say You Want a Revolution

Do you ever have a really bad day, when it seems like everyone and everything is working against you? Moses sure did.  In fact it must have seemed to him like he had fourteen thousand and six hundred days like that and most of them are recorded in the book of Bamidbar.  This week’s...
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Shelach Lecha – Monsters, Giants and Other Formidable Obstacles

June 4, 2018
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Shelach Lecha – Monsters, Giants and Other Formidable Obstacles

 In the spring of 2002 I went to an art exhibit that was featuring a grouping of pictures painted by a good friend who was beginning the process of leaving the safety of a career as a commercial artist and pursuing an art form that was uniquely his own.  The collection was entitled quite...
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B’halot’kha – Salvation On Trial

May 29, 2018
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B’halot’kha – Salvation On Trial

This week parsha will introduce a theme that will characterize much of the remaining narrative of Bamidbar. Chapters 11-25 contain a series of refusals on the part of Israel to accept authority. In chapter 12 even Miriam challenges Moses’ authority. In chapter 11 the people grumble about the unpleasantness of their journey contrasting it...
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Nasso – Bless is More

May 22, 2018
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Nasso – Bless is More

Listen to an audio version… This week’s parasha contains one of only two prescribed blessings in all of Torah, the Birkat Kohanim. This blessing is so familiar to us, it is part of the morning shacharit, and is traditionally chanted by the Kohanim on Yom Kippur. Parents also say it over children on Erev...
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Shavuos all Over Again

May 17, 2018
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Shavuos all Over Again

Yankee Hall of Famer Yogi Berra was renown for his unique and often comical manner of turning a phrase. One phrase that has become part of the American lexical tradition is “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” Déjà vu of course is that sensation we sometimes get that we’ve been here before –...
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Bamidbar – Wildfire, Water and the Wilderness

May 14, 2018
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Bamidbar – Wildfire, Water and the Wilderness

Listen to an audio version This week we embarked upon our annual reading of Bamidbar.  The fourth book of the Torah is so named since it begins “Vay’daber Adonai el-Mosheh b’midbar Sinai (And the LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai).” Midrash Rabbah Bamidbar both asks and answers, “Why does Hashem gift...
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Bechukotai – Peace Within and Without

May 10, 2018
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Bechukotai – Peace Within and Without

Listen to an audio version “…you will dwell securely in your land. I will provide peace in the land…” (Vayikra 26:5-6)   After the Torah guarantees that we will dwell in our land safely if we observe the mitzvot, it states redundantly, “I will provide peace in the land.” Some commentators explain that the...
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Emor – Kiddush Hashem

May 3, 2018
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Emor – Kiddush Hashem

Listen to an audio version It is no wonder that Americans grow ever more cynical regarding organized religion. I think few people are totally surprised by the recently exposed sexual abuses that have been going on within Catholic parishes, since the rumors have flown around for years. But I believe that which appalls most...
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The Lamb of God; Dayenu

March 24, 2018
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The Lamb of God; Dayenu

Listen to an audio version At the each Passover Seder just prior to the second cup of wine we sing Dayenu (lit. It would have been enough) a song that recognizes each of God’s beneficent gifts to Israel. After the enumeration of each gift we respond by singing Dayenu! It would have been enough!...
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