Vayikra: Time to Reflect

When making reference to biblical verses, we tend to identify them by chapter and verse. This most convenient system is of non-Jewish origin and occasionally deviates from the division of texts as understood by our Sages. While one might be tempted to say that a more traditional approach would divide the text according to parshat hashavua, the weekly Torah reading cycle, that, too, is of later origin. Our division into 54 parshiot...
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Vayakhel/Pekudei: ReCreation

The Netziv, in his introduction to Sefer Shemot, notes that there is Gaonic tradition that refers to Shemot as chumash sheni, the second chumash. While Sefer Breisheet details the creation of the world, humanity, and the Jewish people, the creation story concludes only at Sinai, as the purpose of creation is manifest. The Sinaitic experience was preserved as the Divine Presence rested in the Mishkan (the Tabernacle). It should thus not...
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Shushan Purim: United People, Divided Holiday

“And Haman said to King Achashverosh: There is a certain nation scattered and divided amongst the nations” (3:8). Haman was well aware of the Achilles heel of the Jewish nation, the divisiveness that so often characterizes our community. As a small nation, lacking (at that time) a homeland, such unity is much more crucial for our survival than for that of other nations. When we are divided, we are weak; and when we are weak, we are vulnerable....
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Zachor: History Revisited

“Remember what Amalek did to not forget.” Such memory is more than a biblical command, it is a historical reality. While the Torah may have been written 3,500 years ago, it is—almost by definition—a book of current events. Our Sages note that only 55 of the thousands of prophets who spoke the word of G-d had their words recorded for posterity, as only these 55 spoke words that are relevant for all time. While the names, dates and places...
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Terumah: Golden Surroundings

February 24, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman Category: Parsha Thoughts: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the fiercest debates amongst medieval biblical commentaries was the extent to which parts of the Torah might be allegorical. The Ramban (Breisheet 18:1) does not take too kindly to the position of the Rambam (Guide 2:42) that the visit of the three angels to Abraham, or Jacob's struggle with an angel, was a prophetic vision that does not reflect physical reality. In more recent times, a related issue has arisen regarding the understanding...
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