Parashat Balak

Parshat Balak was the Torah portion read on my first Shabbat as rabbi of the congregation I would go on to serve for 35 years.  I observed then that there must be something instructive — and maybe cautionary — to be gleaned from the coincidence of assuming this new pulpit on the Shabbat when we read a Torah portion that prominently features a talking ass. My new congregation laughed – with me rather than at me, thankfully.  But the truth is, that among the insights found in this complicated Torah portion, is this:  what we say reveals a great deal about who we are.

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Set Aside for Faith Based Living | Parashat Korach

“And the LORD said unto Aaron: ‘Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any portion among them; I am thy portion and thine inheritance among the children of Israel.” — Numbers 18:20
You are set aside, for a special purpose and destiny. Your “portion” now and forever more shall be the Eternal. Which really means your portion is 100 percent rooted in your faith that God and the people will care for you and your family.

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Parashat Shelach Lecha

Twelve men, representative from each tribe, have been sent to reconnoitre the land of Israel, and they come back with the same report but with two different conclusions. The land is very good and fertile, but the inhabitants are strong. Ten believe that it would be impossible to take the land and it is better not to try, two insist that trusting in God and refusal to be afraid will mean that they will indeed succeed.

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A Woman Accused | Parashat Naso

I am an avid reader. I enjoy most genres and love to get suggestions from my colleagues and friends. I will start a novel just because a trusted friend recommended it, without researching its topic or other reviews. I also enjoy rereading the classics. Occasionally, when rereading a story, an image or a plot twist will seem different or raise a conflict which feel new to me. When I have that reaction to the new information, I push myself to continue and figure out why.

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When it Rains, it Pours: Parashat Behukotai

With Pesach the rain in Israel generally ends. But this past week we had quite a storm! The Hebrew language has multiple words for rain. Geshem is the most general word. Yoreh refers to the early rain. And malkosh the late rain. This week’s Torah portion, Behukotai, is one of many traditional Jewish sources that views rain as a reward to the Jewish people for obeying the commandments:

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Parashat Acharei Mot-K’doshim 5778

Virtually, the entire book of Leviticus imagines God speaking to Moses.  It is all instruction and no action.  One significant departure into narrative is a striking little tale begun in Chapters 9 and 10, the ordination of Aaron and his four sons as priests (kohanim) for the people Israel, and the disastrous action of two of the sons that lead to their fiery death. The story concludes six chapters later, with the Torah portion, Acharei Mot.  Depicted here—almost hidden among the thicket of priestly laws and regulations—is one of the most dramatic scenes in Torah: the first Day of Atonement.

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