Bechukotai: Something to Notice

“To the last, Parashat Bechukotai challenges us,” writes R. Elizabeth Bolton in “Mir Zaynen Do — We Are Here,” an essay in the The Women’s Torah Commentary:* If the text excludes us when we are not named, then should we include ourselves in such passages as blessings and curses? Surely contemporary Jewish praxis would look […]

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Emor: Something to Notice

And he who invokes the LORD’s name shall be doomed to die; and the community shall surely stone him, sojourner and native alike; for his invoking the Name he shall be put to death. And should a man mortally strike down any human being [adam], he is doomed to die. And he who mortally strikes […]

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Kedoshim: Something to Notice

In the biblical world, there was no separation of ethical and ritual behaviors. Purity, in the physical sense, was inseparable from morality, for both the individual and the group. Holiness presumed a special state of being that included both symbolic purification through ritual and ethical behavior. In addition to its lengthy regulations about purification, Leviticus […]

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Acharei Mot: Something to Notice

“Acharei mot [after the death].” This expression refers to the deaths of Nadav and Abihu after they “came near” (elsewhere: “brought strange fire”) before the Lord (see parashat Shemini). For some readers, I imagine, it’s a relatively simple chronology-determining statement: this happened after that. For people who have experienced a cataclysmic loss — the early […]

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Metzora: Something to Notice

Elaine Goodfriend, who edited the commentary to accompany the portion Metzora in The Torah: A Women’s Commentary,* notes a number of reasons that menstruation was probably less common for ancient women compared with contemporaries: sparser diet and later onset of menstruation; earlier marriage and more pregnancies; breast-feeding for 3 years (based on biblical stories). I […]

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Shemini: Something to Notice

“Now about the hairy-goat of hattat,* Moses inquired, yes, ** inquired [darosh ** darash]…” (Vayikra/Leviticus 10:16). *Fox leaves this untranslated; usually rendered “sin offering.” ** According to those who count such things — the Masoretes, for example — the word “darosh” appears in the first half of the Torah, word-wise, and “darash” appears in the […]

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Tzav: Something to Notice

“‘And he shall put off his garments, and put on other garments,’ (Lev. 6:4). Sages in the School of R. Ishmael taught: The Torah teaches you good manners. The garments in which one cooks a dish for his teacher, he should not wear when he mixes a cup of wine for him.”

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Pekudei: Something to Notice

The colors. Before we complete the Tabernacle and leave Exodus/Shemot, I must pause to consider the oft-mentioned color trio: “tekhelet, v’argaman v’tolaat shani.” These colors are central in the tent instructions/construction and appear throughout the priestly garments. The same colors are, of course, prominent in contemporary Jewish textiles and other arts. Tekhelet — Blue, Sky […]

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Vayakhel: Something to Notice

“…but the materials were more than enough [vehoter] for all the work that had to be done.” — Exodus/Shemot 36:7 Construction of the Tabernacle in the desert was an act that paralleled the creation of heaven and earth and corresponded to all known aspects of the order in which G’d created the universe, (B’rachot 55). […]

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