The Paradox of the Life and Death of Sarah | Parashat Chayei Sarah

Sarah’s social status - and its impact on the future of her family and the people - was so great and significant, that not only…

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Finding Strength in the Small Aleph | Parashat Vayikra

Rabbi Becky Hoffman | Temple Ahavat Shalom, California, USA Some might say that this week’s Torah portion, Vayikra, is not the most interesting stuff we read in the Torah. As it is presented, it does not necessarily meet the sensibilities of modern progressive Jews. Sacrifice, as presented in this Torah portion, could be viewed as […]

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Finding Strength in the Small Aleph | Parashat Vayikra

Rabbi Becky Hoffman | Temple Ahavat Shalom, California, USA Some might say that this week’s Torah portion, Vayikra, is not the most interesting stuff we read in the Torah. As it is presented, it does not necessarily meet the sensibilities of modern progressive Jews. Sacrifice, as presented in this Torah portion, could be viewed as […]

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Aligning Financial Intent with Accountability | Parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei

The Torah declares: “These are p’kudei haMishkan, the records of the Tabernacle, the Tabernacle of the Pact, which were drawn up at Moses’ bidding…” (Exodus 38:21). The types and amounts of materials that went into the Mishkan, the priestly garments, and the sacred tools are listed in detail. While not an engaging narrative, this section sets a vital precedent for financial accountability and transparency among our public and private sector leaders from ancient times through today.

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A Reflection of Self(ies) | Parashat Ki Tisa

The selfie with a cell phone might seem quintessentially 21st Century but Midrash on our parasha would suggest that there is an ancient precursor to this life-affirming use of self-reflecting imagery.

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From Many, One | Parashat Tetzave

While modern readers associate Exod. 27:20-21 with the eternal lamp (ner tamid), when the sixth century CE poet Yannai set out to compose a liturgical poem (piyyut) for the week when the parashah began with these verses, he drew his inspiration from a different lamp: the seven-branched lampstand (menorah) that would become an emblem of the Temple and, to many, of Judaism as a whole.

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Building God’s Presence | Parashat Teruma

Hanging in my office is a framed verse from this week’s Torah portion, Terumah – “They shall make a sanctuary for Me, and I will dwell in them”.  (Exodus 25:8) 

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Doubled Outcry, Doubled Listening | Parashat Mishpatim

All of the different translations of the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, have a philosophy, a way of going about their task. And part of that philosophy is wrestling with an important dilemma: How “smoothly” should you try to convey what the Bible, or in our case, the Torah, is trying to say?

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Moses, Jethro, and Asking for Help | Parashat Yitro

Our Torah portion, parshat Yitro, finds Moses exhausted and overwhelmed. Can we blame him? He has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, having to deal with every single problem experienced by each Israelite. One can only imagine the mishegas he had to sort out over the course of an average day.

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The Long Way | Parashat Beshalach

In parshat Beshalach, our people are about to cross the sea. We’re on the verge of freedom but before the story continues, we read that God has a plan to minimize our fear, our anxiety and even our regret. God will lead us on the slow path, through dry land, into and through the wilderness and eventually, to the Promised Land. God has a plan to try to minimize our trauma.

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