Khokat - Weekly Torah Portion

Making promising is pretty easy, making good on one’s promises is an entirely different business. We learn about one such promise made by Jephthah on the eve of war that we read about in the Haftarah of this week from the book of Judges. “Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” Like is a good tragedy we know how this story shall end, but we shall not read about that this week. The price of the not fully thought about vow is high, “When Jephtha

Korah - Weekly Torah Portion

“As he finished speaking all these words, the ground that was under them split open; and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with their possessions. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. All Israel who were around them fled at their outcry, for they said, “The earth may swallow us up!” Fire also came forth from the Lord and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense.” This is the end of the infamous story of Korah and those who joined him, “two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregati

Shlach-Lecha - Weekly Torah Portion

What a difference forty years can make and certainly two different stories of espionage. The first incident we read about in this week’s portion of the Torah, God commands Moses, “Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, every one a leader among them.” The second time, as described in the book of Joshua, things are completely different. “Then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, ‘Go, view the land, especially Jericho.’” The first time around we get a detailed list of everyone sent on the tour of duty, “from the tribe of R

BeHa’alotecha - Weekly Torah Portion

Our overseas friends reading or listening to my sermon this Shabbat may be wondering what is going on here. From their perspective we are rushing the Torah reading and getting ahead of ourselves. We are reading today the portion of BeHa’alotecha while they are still in Nasso which we read last week. Rabbi Oded Mazor, the rabbi of Kol HaNeshama Congregation of Jerusalem, has addressed it in his newsletter to the community explaining what has happened and the reason for it. Last Friday we celebrated the Festival of Weeks, Shavuot, on Friday, for only one day, while outside of Israel there was also a second day to the festival. On e the second day a special reading from the Torah takes place, a

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