Bechukotai: Great Source(s)

“…if you reject My laws and spurn My rules, so that you do not observe all My commandments and you break My covenant, I in turn will do this to you…”–Leviticus/Vayikra 26:15-16 “…You shall not prolong Your anger with Your sorrowing people to all generations…,” an anonymous author — dated somewhere between the 9th and […]

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Emor: Great Source(s)

One great bunch of reflections on the omer… And you shall count from the morrow of the sabbath, from the day you bring the elevation sheaf [omer], seven whole weeks shall they be. Until the morrow of the seventh sabbath you shall count fifty days, and you shall bring forward a new grain offering to […]

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Kedoshim: Great Source(s)

“Be holy, etc.!” Vayikra Rabbah 24,9, considering the words: [ki kadosh ani], “For I am holy,” asks whether it is possible that the Torah demands that we, the Jewish people, are to be as holy as He is? the Midrash’s answer is that, on the contrary the words [ki kadosh ani], indicate that true sanctity […]

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Tazria: Great Source(s)

We can also consider a connection between menstruation and covenant. The prophet Zechariah speaks to “daughter Jerusalem” and “daughter Zion” about “your covenant of blood” as that which releases prisoners from the dry pit (9:9-11).* It does not say “the covenant of blood,” as most translations render it, but rather emphasizes that blood is the […]

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Metzora: Great Source

Leviticus 15 is a tightly constructed essay on genital pollution, arranged chiastically but not along gender lines. In what may be an added verse to the otherwise tightly constructed chapter (v.31) all Israelites, men and women, are warned to be on guard against uncleanness. In case we have any doubt above the overall structure of […]

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Shemini: Great Source(s)-2

This may not seem immediately related to the portion, Shemini, in anyone else’s head. But Louis Armstrong — both voice and trumpet — has always sounded to me like a man who has experienced strange crossings with their share of harrowing times and losses…not unlike what the families of Aaron/Elisheva and Moses/Zipporah — and the […]

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Tzav: Great Source(s)

“People of the book”? — “People of the table,” too. With the repeated destruction of local and central sanctuaries, the power of the sacrificial system necessarily diminished. The decline of sacrifice did not end Jewish concern with food, but channeled it in a different direction. Meat-eating became separated for sacrifice, and non-sacrificial forms of worship […]

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Vayikra: Great Source(s)

By allowing laypersons to make their own sacrifices, under the auspices of the priests, the sacrificial laws gave people a degree of control over their spiritual lives. Inviting people into the sanctuary for the sacrifice, people felt themselves personally invited into God’s earthly home. In essence, the system of sacrifice provided a metaphor, a method, […]

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Pekudei: Great Source(s)

As Exodus comes to a close, this poem seems appropriate: “Exodus” by Charles Reznikoff …But there came a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph and set us building treasuries and cities, set us making brick for him and building cities: we who had been masters of our days and daylight, free to wander, free to stay. […]

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