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Tag: Parsha

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  • Look Wendy, I can fly!

    By Marcus J Freed

    August 15, 2014 | 5:59 pm

    What happens when the funniest man on earth kills himself? We rush to make sense of out of the seemingly nonsensical. Humans like things to fit into a logical order. Tragedies confuse us. We ask ‘why?’, as if the entire universe should fit into our limited understanding.

    Can...

  • The cure for anger: Parashat Emor (Leviticus 21:1-24:23)

    April 24, 2013 | 5:05 pm

    Life is not easy. In fact, at times it’s downright infuriating. Our natural tendency is to want to blame someone, and the easiest target is God. We may carry anger at HaShem for our entire lives. As a result, we miss out on decades of spiritual connectedness and comfort. 

    There...

  • On equal footing

    February 6, 2013 | 11:09 am

    I watched President Barack Obama’s second inauguration from the hospital room of my 92-year-old friend Harriet. She was having an EKG during it, even though we all agreed the numbers would not provide an accurate assessment of her condition — her medical condition, that is. 

    “You...

  • Power of ten

    By Rabbi Daniel Bouskila

    January 30, 2013 | 3:55 pm

    Sometime during the 13th century, in a private study in Barcelona, an anonymous author sat and composed “Sefer HaChinuch” (“The Book of Education”). This systematic study of the Torah’s 613 commandments was beautifully written as a gift from a father to his son. In his...

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  • Opportunity of a setback

    By Rabbi Dov Fischer

    January 16, 2013 | 1:49 pm

    This week’s parasha is one of the most central to the Jewish narrative. We read of the final plagues, the storm brought by God’s mighty hand and outstretched arm gathering on the border of Egypt, the Divine command to prepare for the Exodus by baking the matzot and eating the...

  • Are you awake?

    January 9, 2013 | 11:47 am

    There is an old midrash to explain how Moshe discovered his Jewish identity and woke up to his calling as a teacher and prophet. Yocheved, Moshe’s mother, used to sing him lullabies and feed him familiar foods. As she weaned him and led him into the embrace of his surrogate family,...

  • What is in a Name?

    January 2, 2013 | 12:28 pm

    This week we begin a new book of Torah — Shemot in Hebrew and Exodus in English. While the word “exodus” means “going out,” the word “shemot” means “names.” So, it should not be surprising that we are sent through a maze of names and journeys in this week’s parasha.

    The portion...

  • Never alone

    By Rabbi Dov Fischer

    November 20, 2012 | 9:46 am

    In this week’s parasha, Yaakov flees for his life, departing from Beersheva back to Charan — back to the beginning. How optimistic it had been when Avraham came to Israel two generations earlier, abandoning Charan presumably forever (Genesis 11:32-12:6). Avraham “went, took and...

  • Let Heaven and Earth Hear

    September 27, 2012 | 10:14 am

    If each spoken word is a droplet of water, then each voice that utters is a wind that brings forth rain.

    Though, the wind has no shape. Though, water comes in all shapes and sizes. Though, no mortal power can divine the weather even a few days hence, words turn patterns as surely...

  • Here on Earth

    By Rabbi Yonah Bookstein

    September 12, 2012 | 11:40 am

    “The Torah that I am prescribing to you today is not too mysterious or remote from you. It is not in heaven ... it is something that is very close to you” (Deuteronomy 30:11-13).

    A great illustration of this passage is contained in the Yiddish story by I.L. Peretz titled “If Not...

  • First Fruits

    September 5, 2012 | 12:35 pm

    Earlier today I bit into a crisp, bright green plum. The plum, a new variety at my local farmers’ market, showed up for the first time this week. It is hard to believe

    that after months of stone fruit wonders, there are still different varieties appearing. In the simple act of...

  • Call to war

    By Rabbi Daniel Bouskila

    June 6, 2012 | 2:11 pm

    There are powerful moments when life’s experiences bring deeper meaning to the Torah and her classic commentators.

    It was Shabbat, June 5, 1982.

    I was nearing the end of my first year abroad in Israel, and I spent that Shabbat in Haifa with my family. A few days earlier, on June...

  • Lessons My Grandfather Taught Me

    By Rabbi Elazar Muskin

    April 11, 2012 | 11:18 am

    Every Passover, as I sit with my family at our seder, I inevitably think of my paternal grandfather, after whom I was named. I never met him. He died five years before I was born, and I was born on the anniversary of his burial. But from earliest childhood, I felt that my grandfather...

  • Holy Sanctuaries or Golden Calves

    February 23, 2012 | 9:48 am

    As human beings, can we know precisely what God wants from us? It might seem, from the beginning of this week’s parasha, that we can: “Bring Me gifts. You shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart is willing. And these are the gifts you shall accept from them”...

  • Déjà Vu, all over again

    January 11, 2012 | 6:55 pm

    It’s a new year and we are beginning a new book of the Torah — Exodus. Unfortunately, we are dealing with the same old problem. Anti-Semitism, the oldest hatred, rears its ugly head.

    Pharaoh, the Egyptian ruler, scapegoats the Jews and turns them into the enemy, a pattern that...

  • Unloading the emotional U-Haul

    By Rabbi Lisa Edwards

    January 4, 2012 | 1:02 pm

    A funeral director once said, “In all the funerals I’ve attended, I have yet to see a hearse with a U-Haul trailer attached.” But while it’s true that “you can’t take it with you,”meaning material possessions, I’m not so sure about emotional possessions. How many of...

  • Parashat Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1-17:27)

    By Rabbi Laura Geller

    November 1, 2011 | 8:29 pm

    Last week’s Torah portion ends with a genealogy, a long list of names of who begot whom and how long they lived. It is one of many genealogies in the Torah. It used to be that when I encountered those lists, I tuned out; I found them boring. But then I read a book by Thomas Cahill...

  • Back to School

    By Rabbi Elazar Muskin

    August 31, 2011 | 10:48 am

    With a new school year upon us, I found the following story, “What Teachers Make,” revealing.

    “The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to discuss the current problems with education. He argued, ‘What’s a kid going to learn...

  • From Pain to Peace

    By Rabbi Anne Brener

    August 17, 2011 | 10:33 am

    “Remember the long way that YHVH your God made you travel in the wilderness these past 40 years, that he might test you, by hardships, to learn what is in your hearts: whether you would keep his commandments or not” (Deuteronomy 8:2).

    My daughter just returned from Vietnam. When...

  • Real Spirituality: Parashat Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1)

    By Rabbi Elazar Muskin

    June 28, 2011 | 3:48 pm

    Spirituality, kabbalah and meditation are buzzwords in today’s religious lexicon. But do they really describe religion?

    A number of years ago, my mother, who lives in Cleveland, received a call from the major local paper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The paper was doing a feature...

  • Engraved Ideas

    By Rabbi Elazar Muskin

    May 17, 2011 | 5:55 pm

    In 2008, the Los Angeles Times ran an op-ed written by Marisol Leon, a young woman who graduated from Yale in 2007 and returned to teach in the same public middle school she had attended:

    “‘Think Ivy League,’ pleaded Mrs.  Anderson, my English teacher. ‘Ivy League? What is...

  • Ears, Toes and Thumbs

    By Rabbi Elazar Muskin

    April 5, 2011 | 6:09 pm

    Author Hillel Halkin, reviewing the Koren Sacks Siddur in the spring 2010 Jewish Review of Books, recounts a charming story that he heard from his father:

    “My father, who prayed with great kavanah [concentration] yet was adamant about having no religious beliefs whatsoever …...

  • Egypt: Tabernacle or Golden Calf?

    By Rabbi Isaac Jeret

    February 22, 2011 | 6:19 pm

    As Jews, our character and faith are defined essentially by the story of our ancient liberation from slavery in Egypt, informing our concern for the welfare of those who are similarly oppressed. But as a minority often vulnerable to the whims of tyrannical victors, we are also keenly...

  • Old But New

    By Rabbi Elazar Muskin

    April 22, 2009 | 2:02 am

    A number of years ago, when my two daughters were 8 and 6, we had the pleasure of spending a family summer vacation in Israel. We stayed at my mother-in-law’s home right near Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan. One day while eating breakfast we heard a truck pass outside with a...

  • The power of speech

    By Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky

    July 9, 2008 | 10:38 pm

    The Torah records that the human being was the final item created by God. But the Mishna (Avot 5:8) proposes that a variety of mysterious things were actually created just a little bit later.

    As the sixth day was ending, but not quite over, and as Shabbat was arriving, but had not...

  • Gift of unanswered prayers

    By Rabbi Dov Fischer

    June 12, 2008 | 2:33 pm

    Not many people among Irvine's pedestrians and shoppers wear yarmulkes -- yet.

    The city's Orthodox Jewish community indeed has expanded in recent years to four Orthodox congregations -- including our own Young Israel, two Chabad congregations, and a fourth where I previously served...

  • Discovering the Name

    By Rabbi Mordecai Finley

    January 11, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    The first Torah portion in Exodus is Shemot, Hebrew for "names." "These are the names of the Israelites coming to Egypt..." (Exodus 1:1).

    That might be where we got the name of the parsha, but that is not where the parsha takes us. Namings take place throughout Shemot. Moses gets a...

  • Letters to Mom

    By Rabbi Haim Ovadia

    November 2, 2006 | 7:00 pm



    Dear Mother,

    Here we are again on the plains of Bethel. We're in the 10th month of our 10th year in Canaan. Sorry I haven't written. There were so many things happening, but none of them so important to justify my negligence. The famine, Pharaoh, Avimelech, the war -- they all...
  • Power of Vows

    By Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater

    July 19, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    I have twins who are almost 5 years old. One of the things that my wife and I are trying to teach them is the power of words, both for the positive and the negative.

    They are learning that words can inspire, motivate and excite a situation, as they discover new and innovative ways...

  • The Ultimate Enigma

    By Rabbi Steven Weil

    July 6, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    Zot chukat haTorah begins this week's parsha, telling us that the subject of the Red Heifer is the chok of the Torah. A chok is a law that is simply incomprehensible. It makes no sense to us whatsoever.

    When I tell you that a person who had become ritually defiled by close contact...

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