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In leap years, parshat Behar and Bechukotai are separated and read over a two-week period. Otherwise, they are read as a double portion, and when read together, as they are this year, we look for some connection between the two narratives.

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Parshah Emor delineates the special laws regulating how the high priest conducts himself. He must live according to a higher standard of sanctity than the “ordinary” Jew. For example, he is prohibited from coming in contact with a dead body.

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The voices that speak from the etched tablets Moses carried down Mt. Sinai harmonize in their dissonance. That is to say, what makes Judaism whole is our internal, intergenerational dialogue that values and canonizes multiple perspectives. Torah boldly models this by placing conflicting view…

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The titles given to Torah portions by the Rabbis do more than distinguish one from another, they reflect the theme and overall content of each.

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There has been much emphasis during this pandemic on staying away from one another, keeping our hands clean and not touching public doors or surfaces.

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Heralding the foundational narrative of the Jewish people, the Grand Shabbat is born upon the evolutionary arc of a mountain top. Shabbat HaGadol calls upon us to remember our origins as an ancient mountain people, who cultivated a socio-cultural hierarchy that mirrored the shape of elevated earth.

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This week we begin Sefer VaYikra, the book of Leviticus where sacrifices are a central topic and theme. The nature of sacrifices and their application to our daily lives is of major import and can teach us life-altering lessons.

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Following the catastrophic events of Ki Tisa, last week’s parshah, we begin this week with the final construction of the portable Mishkan in the wilderness.

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On Thursday night we begin our celebration of the most irreverent of Jewish observances — Purim. During this holiday, we read the scroll of Esther, exchange gifts of food, mishloach manot, with friends, acquaintances and family and also offer gifts to the poor. Furthermore, it is considered …

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Throughout history, due to governmental or societal pressure, Jewish values and culture were usually at odds with the surrounding environment, and so Jews always had to make one of two choices: defiance or compliance.

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Mishpatim (Rules), is a miscellaneous collection of laws relating to slavery, homicide, theft, agriculture and many other matters. As interesting as these specific regulations are, they have none of the energy and drama of the Ten Commandments, which we read last week. But the Torah understa…

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The Children of Israel marched out of Egypt among a myriad of miracles. They were finally free after many years of bitter slavery. But that is hardly the end of the story. Freedom is, by itself, not a goal. It merely allows one the opportunity to define and strive towards a goal. For our mis…

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Transitions of any kind are difficult, and we must consider the best way to make it through them while still being true to who we are.

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In the cycle of stories presented in this week’s parshah, Moses and Aaron engage in a series of confrontations with a Pharaoh to secure the freedom of the Israelites from bondage. In their corner is God, who uses the opportunity to demonstrate God’s great power and spread God’s fame in the world.

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The gabai at the synagogue approached Mr. Goldfein to give him the honor of an aliyah at the Torah.

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Jacob is going to die. He puts his affairs in order, conveys his wishes and breathes his last. The Age of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs is over.

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This week’s parshah gives us a glimpse into the passion and strength that flows through our nation.

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In the cycle of the yearly Torah reading, we are in the midst of the Joseph narrative which tells the amazing story of Jacob’s favorite son, Joseph. In last week’s parshah, Joseph was imprisoned on false charges by Potiphar’s wife. 

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As parents, one of the most important things we could ever do is raise our children to be well-rounded, mature and productive members (even leaders) of society.

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The candles. The oil. The darkness. The Light. For the Jewish people, the symbols of Chanukah remind us that when times seem the bleakest, there is always an escape.

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Continents have been ravaged by tyrants. Countries have been decimated by despots. People have been led like sheep to slaughter. They have been tortured, maimed, executed and controlled in a cruel, phlegmatic manner — all so that someone could garner power.

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This week’s parshah tells the story of Yitzhak approaching the end of his life. He summons his older son Esav “so that my soul can bless you before I die.”

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There is no institution which is more significant for the preservation of civilization than the family. The well-being of society and the ideal of human progress is dependent on a firm and stable family unit. Judaism revolves around the sanctity of the family as it is absolutely vital to the…

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In the year 1054, there was a huge supernova explosion, an explosion that eventually became the crab nebula. Astronomers in places as far flung as China, Japan, Arabia and even the Americas recorded the event. Yet strangely, there is no record of this gigantic event anywhere in Europe. How c…

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Once a renowned cardiologist visited the Chabad Rebbe. “You should devote your attention to treating healthy people, not only the sick,” the Rebbe told him.

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How many of us have experienced times when things we created or desired were upended or destroyed through calamity or nefarious forces? Think for a moment how that felt. Then imagine the Creator’s experience knowing that the “good” world (yetzer ha tov) introduced in B’reishit was corrupted …

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It seems like an opening replete with sin.

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The holidays of Tishrei are there to set in motion the events of the next year. Rosh Hashanah is the grand entrance of greatest joy, Yom Kippur is the solemn day of repentance where we ask for forgiveness for our transgressions, Sukkot gives us the space to reflect on the struggles of our an…

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There is no doubt that of all the holidays on the Jewish calendar, Sukkot is the one most associated with happiness. There are so many joyous actions that are affiliated with the holiday — from building and living in the sukkah to shaking the four species — it is of little surprise that this…

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A major facet of the Jewish holidays is the element of rejoicing. At first glance, we do not associate religious observance with “having a good time.” We differentiate between the realm of religion and that of personal gratification.

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Two men walk a dusty path. One is just setting out on the great adventure of life. The other has more road behind him than ahead.

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“You are standing today, all of you, before Hashem your God: the heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers — all the men of Israel; your small children, your women and your immigrant who is in the midst of your camp, from the hewer of wood to the drawer of water, for you to pass i…

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The most hallowed memories of youth are invariably filled with firsts: your first bicycle, first car, first paycheck. As we travel the road of life, those firsts serve as milestones of joy and sometimes heartache like a child taking his first step or the loss of a loved one.

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I know it’s a bit premature (both in terms of calendar and the pandemic), but this week’s Torah portion, Ki Teitzei, has me thinking about ushpizim, the fantasy guests that we invite into our sukkah each year.

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In the last decade, Marvel Studio’s Marvel Universe series of superhero films has broken box office records and redefined its genre with the adventures of Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk. Marvel’s competitor, DC Comics, with its own pantheon of equally famous characters like Superman,…

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Annually we read the challenge of parshah Re’eh and repeat it to our kids and each other often. The text of Deuteronomy 11 begins, “Hey, look (see)! I have set before you blessing and curse: blessing if you obey the rules … and curse if you do not obey the rules.” (Interpretation is mine.)

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In this week’s Torah portion of Eikev, Moses continues his closing address to the Jewish people, prior to his passing.

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In this week’s Torah portion, the Israelites in the desert relive the moment from 40 years earlier, when their parents and grandparents stood at Sinai and received Aseret ha-Dibrot, the ten fundamental principles of being in a covenantal relationship with God.

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To truly respect another requires a healthy dose of humility — a misunderstood word, yet an incredibly freeing character trait. To be humble, one should not take credit for their gifts and talents but view them as a gift from G-d. We may be aware of these gifts, yet understand that if someon…

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The journey is nearly complete; the Israelites are now poised to enter the Holy Land. Only one task remains before the Promise can be fulfilled: to dispossess the native people so that the Hebrews can settle there.

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There’s no inherent evil attribute. Everything has utility for good, even cruelty. The reverse is also true. Everything has utility for evil, even kindness. That is to say that properly placed cruelty is kindness. Misplaced kindness is cruelty.

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Torah reflects the human condition in a multitude of ways. Lest we forget what is real, the cycle of life is often repeated, and lessons about living in the space between birth and death are highlighted.

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It was the most devastating and audacious of rebellions.

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The three chapters of parsha Sh’lach are challenging, detailing the drama that ties the People of Israel to the Almighty, in very different ways.

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French journalist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr’s aphorism, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” is expressed in Rashi’s commentary on the ancient Israelites’ departure from Mount Sinai.

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Many years ago, I was surprised and saddened at once when my husband said, “I don’t want to bring a child into this violent world.” A year earlier, the same man expressed the desire for several children. Was this invasion of the body snatchers? What happened? Although I reminded him of his p…

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On Thursday evening (May 30th) this week we begin the second of the Shalosh Regalim for the holiday of Shavuot. For the past seven weeks we have been counting the Omer, each day focusing our attention on another aspect of our emotions, to improve, sharpen and focus them to be ready to celebr…

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