Vaetchanen- weekly Torah portion

I am far from being objective about anything that has to do with the celebration of the 15th day of the month of Av. Thirty six years ago my wife, Ahuva, and I got married. An orthodox rabbi officiated in our wedding, he was the military rabbi at the base where I served as an officer. It was a moving day to get married in Netanya while up north the War in Lebanon, little did we know it will be known as the First, was raging. For me the selection of that date was meaningful, even though little known to the Israeli public at the time and certainly a far cry from today’s equivalent of Valentine’s Day. The rabbi was actually surprised that I knew anything about it but kind of accepted the fact t

Devarim - weekly Torah portion

This Shabbat we begin reading the last book of the Torah, Deuteronomy, where in its first portion Moses details the wanderings of the Israelites in the desert for four long decades. Insertions into the geographic information discuss principles of law, order and structure, and a repeated demand from judges, “Hear the cases between your fellow countrymen, and judge righteously between a man and his fellow countryman, or the alien who is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not fear man…” All of this ends in tragedy. After all of Moses efforts, toil, sweat, begging and pleading, difficulties, and disappointment, when he was

Mattot-Mase'ei - weekly Torah portion

Moses is furious when the representatives of the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad approach him and suggest, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession; do not take us across the Jordan.” He responds angrily, in surprise and in shock, “Shall your brothers go to war while you yourselves sit here? Now why are you discouraging the sons of Israel from crossing over into the land which the Lord has given them?” They quickly regroup and respond, “We will build here sheepfolds for our livestock and cities for our little ones; but we ourselves will be armed ready to go before the sons of Israel, until we have brought them to their place, while our

Phinehas - weekly Torah portion

The “Phinehas” portion of the Torah is interesting because seemingly it contains many disjoint topics. There is a reference to the zeal of Phinehas who kills two to stop a plague that has killed twenty four thousand. This zeal of Phinehas is so shocking that God, in return responds, “Behold, I give him My covenant of peace; and it shall be for him and his descendants after him, a covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the sons of Israel.” There is a dividing of land between the tribes of the Israelites, and it is done in a manner such that “the larger group you shall increase their inheritance, and to the smaller group you shall diminish

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