Balak - weekly Torah portion

How fair are you tents, O Jacob, Your dwellings, O Israel. מַה-טֹּבוּ אֹהָלֶיךָ, יַעֲקֹב; מִשְׁכְּנֹתֶיךָ, יִשְׂרָאֵל. This ancient reading from this week’s portion of the Torah is found in some of the earliest known prayer books, as early as the ninth century Seder Rav Amram Gaon, and later on, by Rashi at the eleventh century. The siddur was not a static creation and it developed over time and even orthodox prayer books have changed over time. One obvious change was the addition of the prayer for peace and safety of the State of Israel. Yet another, somewhat earlier, was Lecha Dodi of the sixteenth century. Still, it is fair to say that the orthodox Sidur is a slow moving document, with li

CHUKKAT - weekly Torah portion

When wondering in the desert it is no wonder that when one reaches a well it is a reason to rejoice. This is certainly the case in this week’s portion of the Torah where the Israelites arrive at “Beer, that is the well where the Lord said to Moses, ‘Assemble the people, that I may give them water.’” Certainly water is a reason to celebrate and therefor “Israel sang this song: Spring up, O well! Sing to it! / The well, which the leaders sank, / Which the nobles of the people dug, / With the scepter and with their staffs.” Without water there is no life, there is no reason for living. Once water is available attitudes change, there is a reason to celebrate, one can sing, and then can also cont

Korach - weekly Torah portion

Complaints, complaints and even more complaints. Moses and Aaron must contend with all of these and still continue to lead the People towards the Promised Land. It begins with a statement by Korah and his people who proclaim, “You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” It continues when Moses call for “Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab” and they respond dismissingly, “We will not come up. Is it not enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to have us die in the wilderness, but you would also lord it over us? Indeed, you ha

Shelach Lecha - weekly Torah portion

They Toured the Land The tale about the men who were sent by Moses with an instruction to “Go up there into the Negev; then go up into the hill country. See what the land is like, and whether the people who live in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many. How is the land in which they live, is it good or bad? And how are the cities in which they live, are they like open camps or with fortifications? How is the land, is it fat or lean? Are there trees in it or not? Make an effort then to get some of the fruit of the land.” The end result is a fiasco. On one hand they report, “We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its

IMPJ Chairperson’s Speech – Biennial 2018

Dear members of the IMPJ and its congregations, guests and dignitaries, In this week’s portion of the Torah we read, “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you mount the lamps, the seven lamps will give light in the front of the lampstand.’” This was a magnificent Menorah, it was a “hammered work of gold; from its base to its flowers it was hammered work; according to the pattern which the Lord had shown Moses, so he made the lampstand.” This Menorah later became the state symbol of the State of Israel, and in its very modern and up to date form, also the logo of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, which we have adopted in our convent

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