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Shabbat Tzav (Lev. 6:1-8:36)

This weeks’ portion begins saying “This is the Ritual (Tzav) of burnt offering.”. However, various interpretations give the meaning of tzav as “commandment”, “law” or even “Torah”. One commentator explains that the word “Torah” does not always apply to the 5 books of Moses. It can mean the 5 books plus Talmud. Or all the official holy books together (Torah, Prophets, Writings, etc). Then there’s “the... read more

Shabbat Vayikra (Lev. 1:1-5:26)

The book of Exodus was completed and that of Leviticus opened under a blanket of silent white purity. Hope, faith and trust in the world and God lead me to believe that by the time Leviticus is done, the world will be renewed with life and color. Metaphorically speaking, Exodus created the external structure for Judaism – creating a people out of a few ragtag tribes, giving them an identity first as “the... read more

Shabbat Pikudei (Ex. 38:21 – 40:38)

“When Moses had finished the work, the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the Presence of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting, because the cloud had settled upon it and the Presence of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. When the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the Israelites would set out, on their various journeys; But if the cloud did not lift, they would... read more

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

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