Bechukotai: A Path to Follow

“Clearing Out the Old” You shall eat old grain long stored, and you shall have to clear out the old to make room for the new. — Leviticus/Vayikra 26:10 Meant to suggest plenty lasting from one harvest to the next, perhaps to connect with the promise of a sufficiency for the sabbatical year. But also, […]

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Behar: A Path to Follow

“Proclaiming Liberty throughout the Land,” an essay on the portion Behar by then rabbinical students Sharon Brous and Jill Hammer,* includes a section entitled “The meaning of Ge’ulah for feminists.” (See p. 242ff in The Women’s Torah Commentary.*) They ask Jews to consider their responsibility to help free agunot, women chained to marriage by husbands […]

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Emor: A Path to Follow

The story [of the blasphemer, Leviticus/Vayikra 24:10-23] is noteworthy in that it is one of only four incidents in the Torah in which Moses is shown asking God how to decide an issue (the others are Numbers 9:6ff, 15:32ff, and 27:1ff). Moses sought God’s judgment because the punishment for blasphemy had not yet been detailed. […]

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Kedoshim: A Path to Follow

A college friend and sailing fan once told me a story about a sailor who was about to win a ’round-the-world-solo race when he tacked away from harbor and, returning to open ocean, headed around again. On May 20, 2009, I had a kind of fit and decided to launch “Torah: Opening the Book” on […]

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Acharei Mot: A Path to Follow

How is writing “with four pens between five fingers” related to the Day of Atonement? There are many paths to follow from Chapter 16, which describes the ancient Yom Kippur service and has become the Torah reading for Yom Kippur morning and the basis for the Avodah Service. To start, it can be very interesting […]

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Shemini: A Path to Follow

“And Moses said to Aaron and to his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not bare your heads [rasheichem al-tifra’u] and do not rend your clothes, lest you die and anger strike the whole community. But your kin, all the house of Israel, shall bewail the burning that [YHVH] has wrought.”

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Tzav: A Path to Follow

When is “taking out the ash” as simple as clearing up the remains of a fire? As often, perhaps, as a cigar is just a cigar. And when — in musing on “musings,” or sins of the heart — does “Mah nishtanah?” simply mean “What’s changed?” Musings: or Sins of the Heart “This is the […]

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Vayikra: A Path to Follow

And the Lord called unto Moses, and spoke unto him [Leviticus/Vayikra 1:1], why does Scripture mention the call before the speech? — The Torah teaches us good manners: a man should not address his neighbour without having first called him. This supports the view of R. Hanina, for R. Hanina said: No man shall speak […]

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Pekudei: A Path to Follow

Speaking of weaving and women’s work… SERAKH BAT ASHER THE HISTORIAN ADDS: Since we were principally a sheepherding people in ancient times, Israelite women mostly wove wool. Some even say that it was we women of Israel who first introduced colored wool garments into Egypt. For did not Joseph have a splendid “coat of many […]

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