Shabbat Vayakhel (Ex> 35:1 – 38:20)

In the portion this week we re-read the plans plans for the Mishkan as Moses tells them to the Israelites. The Israelites donate to the project with such fervor that finally Moses has to tell them to stop. And the contributions of women figure prominently in the descriptions. One line caught my eye this year: “He made the laver of copper and its stand of copper, from the mirrors of the women who... read more

Shabbat Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11 – 34:35)

Ki Tisa – one of the seminal moments in Jewish history. Moses, who has been up on the mountain for 40 days, begins his descent with the tablets of the law. Meanwhile, back at base camp, the children of Israel display both their lack of faith and their inability to count (it was day 39 but they thought it was 40) by demanding that Aaron make them a golden idol. God gets mad, Moses gets mad, and about... read more

Shabbat Tetsaveh (Ex. 27:20-30:10)

Last week, we read about how the Israelites “clothed” the Mishkan, the Tent of Meeting. In fact, if you look at it you can see that they actually built a person and then clothed it – the Ark of the Covenant as the heart (with the Divine spark of life – the Tablets of Law – inside), the sacrificial altar as the head, the framing as a skeleton and the skins and fabrics as… well, skins and fabrics that... read more

Shabbat Terumah (Exodus 25:1 – 27:19)

Moses is up on the mountain, and we begin to hear about building the Tent of Meeting. People are (or will be) asked to bring gifts – whatever their heart moves them to bring. These gifts engage the senses – they have specific textures, colors and aromas. While the instructions make sense in their literal interpretation, they are also a fantastic metaphor for people bringing whatever gifts and... read more

Shabbat Mishpatim (Ex. 21:1-24:18)

Mishpatim, or “judgements” takes the 10 commandments from last week and begins to elaborate on them. Detailed rules are given concerning slaves, crimes punishable by death, how to deal with the behavior of your ox, theft and lending, how to handle first fruits and firstborn animals, the sabbatical and jubilee years, the festivals of gathering and on giving just punishments that do not exceed the crime... read more