5/20/2013 12:07 PM
The association of Aharon, and of all later High Priests of Israel, with the task of the daily lighting of the menorah/candelabra in the Temple is significant. In our current technologically advanced era, turning on the lights in a home or a room is hardly considered to be a difficult or especially meaningful event. The flick of a switch floods the area with light and illumination. However,...
5/13/2013 01:46 PM
Every holiday is dependent, so to speak, on memory for its observance to be meaningful and uplifting. The specific commandments, customs and rituals that accompany the Jewish holidays of the year are the memory aids that trigger our emotional and spiritual responses. Just sitting in a succah or eating matzo is sufficient to open the floodgates of memory that enhance our observance of that...
5/13/2013 01:42 PM
The term that the Torah uses for counting the Levite family of Gershon is nasso – to raise and lift up. The word can also mean to carry and bear a burden. It can also mean to lead. When such words appear in the Torah with multiple, differing meanings – and Hebrew is replete with so many of them – the commentators remark that all of the possible meanings of that word are nuanced and meant...
5/6/2013 12:35 PM
I have always been fascinated as to why this book of the Bible and this week’s Torah reading is called Bamidbar – in the desert. The rabbis of Midrash have stated that the lesson involved here is that the Torah only remains in a person who empties all other causes from one’s midst, and is as open and unoccupied as is the desert. Nevertheless, there may be other insights that may be...
THE BOOK OF RUTH
5/6/2013 12:03 PM
With the holiday of Shavuot lurking joyfully just around the corner, I have spent some time reviewing the holy book of Ruth. Traditionally read in many synagogues on the holiday, the narrative quality of this book itself is masterful and its delineation of the main characters is sharp and arresting. But it is the moral and idealistic quality of the book, especially as it is reflected through...
BHAR – BECHUKOTAI
4/29/2013 03:21 PM
The book of Vayikra concludes with a description of Jewish destiny and a foretelling of dire events that that will befall the Jewish people. The clear message in this parsha, and as repeated later in the book of Dvarim and in the words of the prophets of Israel over the next millennium, is that the Jewish people and its behavior and society are held to a high standard of loyalty and piety. ...
ACHREI MOS – KEDOSHIM
4/16/2013 03:22 PM
To a great extent, reaction to defeat and tragedy is the true defining moment of one’s inner strength and faith. Aharon’s silence in the face of the loss of his two older sons is reckoned in Jewish tradition as an act of nobility and sublime acceptance of the unfathomable judgment of Heaven. Contrast Aharon’s silence and humble acceptance of fate with the response of Iyov to his...
THE AMBIVALENT COUNT
4/7/2013 06:02 AM
We are currently in the season of the counting of the days of the Omer that will lead us to the grand holiday of Shavuot. In the tradition of rabbinic commentary regarding this process of counting the days between Pesach and Shavuot, the emphasis has always been on the countdown towards Shavuot – towards the revelation at Sinai and the granting of the Torah to Israel. Tradition forced us...
4/7/2013 06:00 AM
We, in our current milieu and society, find it difficult to intimately relate to the facts, descriptions and rituals outlined for us in the subject matter of the parshiyot of this week. The laws and rituals of negaaim are addressed to those of past generations that were on a far different spiritual level than ours. Even the Talmud Bavli did not assign any specific volumes in its vast compendium...
4/3/2013 06:01 AM
After the seven days of excitement and joy upon the consecration of the Mishkan and the installation of Aharon and his sons as the priests of Israel devoted to the service of God and humans, tragedy strikes the family of Aharon and all of Israel. The commentators to Torah as well as the Talmud itself searched for the causes that created this sad situation. They attempted to answer the...