Terumah - Weekly Torah Portion

There is a lot of symbolism when a structure is erected. This week we read about two such projects. From the Torah we read, “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it.” We read about another structure in the Haftarah from Kings 1, “Now it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord.” Two very different ways of raising t

Mishpatim - Weekly Torah Portion

Next week we begin the month of Adar and the Shabbat before that is known as Shabbat Shekalim, which coincidentally is when I celebrated my Bar Mitzvah. Five decades have passed and still the readings of this Shabbat echo in my ears. It is a Shabbat were we begin to remind the people of the importance of making contributions. In the case of the Maftir it is a required contribution at a given amount for the purposes of a census. The donation is “half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as a contribution to the Lord. Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to the Lord. The rich shall not pa

Yitro - Weekly Torah Portion

This week we read probably the most known portion of the Bible, the Ten Commandments. Starting with “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” all the way to “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” The reading of the Haftarah is from the sixth chapter of the prophet Isiah, with the Ashkenazi tradition adding readings from the seventh and ninth chapters. When actually reading them there seems to be at best a remote connection to these great words given on Mount Sinai. Isiah, for example,

Beshalach - Weekly Torah Portion

This week we get the chance to read two pieces of poetry, the Song on the Sea and Deborah’s Song. In the first song, “Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the Lord” and they were answered by, “Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing. Miriam answered them, ‘Sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted; The horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea.’” In the second song, “Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying”. The first piece of poetry is all praise to the Lord, the One who rescued the Sons of Israel from slavery in Egypt. “I will sing to the Lord, for He is hi

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