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Jewish Journal

Tag: Torah Portion

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  • Ultimate fighting strategies

    September 7, 2011 | 11:45 am

    This week’s Torah portion seems to begin and end with “politically incorrect” recommendations for war, death and destruction. Starting with, “When you will go out to war” (Deuteronomy 21:10), the portion ends with, “You shall wipe out the memory of Amalek from under the...

  • 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...

  • Seeing with the sixth sense

    August 23, 2011 | 6:09 pm

    Do we have a sixth sense?

    There is a commandment: “Ye shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). But how do we know we are on the right path? Some of us might run through a checklist: “I gave charity; check. I loved my neighbor today; check. I lit...

  • Listening More Than We Speak

    By Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater

    August 10, 2011 | 10:32 am

    Having just come off Tisha B’Av, not only do we focus on the parasha, Va’etchanan, but this is also Shabbat Nachamu, the healing Shabbat of Comfort, so named because we read the words of Isaiah, “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God” (Isaiah 40:1).

    Having spent the...

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  • Revisionist History: Parashat Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22)

    August 2, 2011 | 5:37 pm

    My grandmother loved to tell family stories in which key details were changed. Sometimes she swapped out one time period or location for another. Sometimes key characters were replaced or motivations recast. More than slips of memory, these alterations were her way of putting the...

  • Double down

    July 26, 2011 | 5:49 pm

    If we measure time using the weekly Torah portions, then we can safely say, as we finish the last parasha in the book of Bamidbar, that we are approaching the end of the yearly Torah reading cycle; that means the holiday season is not far away.

    Inevitably, during the holiday season,...

  • Silence is consent: Parashat Matot (Numbers 30:2-32:42)

    By Rabbi Laura Geller

    July 19, 2011 | 4:22 pm

    I recently received an e-mail with the subject line “The Arab Mentality.” It described a Palestinian woman who had been badly burned and successfully treated in Israel, only to be arrested later for attempting to infiltrate Israel’s borders as a suicide bomber. The sender...

  • Courage to Lead: Parashat Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1)

    By Rabbi Dov Fischer

    July 12, 2011 | 6:27 pm

    We ended last week’s parasha with the Jewish nation crying as quasi-leaders sinned publicly with Midianite women, who had come into our camp at the Moabites’ behest.

    We would have no rest from these Midianites, nor from their Moabite agitators. God ultimately would warn us to...

  • Did I recognize your soul?

    July 5, 2011 | 5:40 pm

    Um, excuse me, have we met? I’m sorry. There was a faint bell in the recess of my … are you sure we haven’t? I thought perhaps we were once together. I remember a sturdy tent, with desert flowers outside the door, glowing coals inside, a shadow moving toward the door. Was that...

  • 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...

  • Korach: The Spiritual Narcissist

    By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

    June 24, 2011 | 10:37 am

    This week’s Torah reading deals with the rebellion of Korach, a cousin of Moses, who contends that he is just as deserving of leadership as the great lawgiver. Korach claims that Moses has usurped power for reasons of self-aggrandizement. Moses, whom the Bible declares to be the...

  • Prophecy vs. Ego

    By Rabbi Anne Brener

    June 21, 2011 | 4:50 pm

    Shavuot, unlike many Jewish holidays, does not take place on the full moon. This celebration, when we study all night to commemorate receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai, precedes the night of the moon’s peak brightness by about a week. So, along with the gift of Torah, we are given...

  • Truth matters

    June 14, 2011 | 5:39 pm

    I love Moses. I am a Jew, after all, because of Moses. If we Jews pursue justice, help the poor, feed the hungry and clothe the naked, it is because Moses taught us to do so. Moses is the foundation of our people. Our first and greatest prophet.

    When I love people, I tend to defend...

  • Laud the lay leaders

    By Rav Yosef Kanefsky

    June 7, 2011 | 5:20 pm

    It is often mumbled or even overlooked altogether. But it’s part of our liturgy every Shabbat morning, and it expresses the most deserved words of praise and thanks that we recite the whole day. “May God bless all of those who faithfully involve themselves in the needs of the...

  • Me and my shadow

    May 31, 2011 | 6:31 pm

    Do a little exercise as you are reading this. Put the paper down on a table. Now, slowly and with intention, take your hands and hold them in front of you. Hold them palms up toward the sky and contemplate how it feels. Now slowly rotate your hands and hold them with your palms...

  • Burden of Change

    May 24, 2011 | 5:22 pm

    We are taught that each change we encounter in life results in an experience of loss. Our transitions are stored in our beings. They are what make us human and blessedly unique.

    Our lifetime of experiences with change link us to our ancestors. Besides tired bodies and tested faith,...

  • 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...

  • Share the wealth

    May 10, 2011 | 5:47 pm

    Dara Frimmer is associate rabbi at Temple Isaiah, a Reform congregation in Los Angeles.

    Imagine having acquired a piece of property. Truly investing in it. Maybe building a new house, planting trees, landscaping. And then, one day, you and all your neighbors who bought and developed...

  • Blasphemers No More

    May 3, 2011 | 6:28 pm

    My sister just touched down in Israel. I can feel her elation way over here in California. Time stood still; there was silence. The land and the woman were one. She had returned home.

    My sister made aliyah 22 years ago, with her then-husband and 1-year-old daughter. After building...

  • Give until it hurts

    By Rabbi N. Daniel Korobkin

    April 26, 2011 | 4:46 pm

    Two Jewish philanthropists were overheard disagreeing about how to give charity.

    “I only support Jewish causes — the Jewish people need our help more than anyone else in the world,” Cohen said.

    “But what about the tsunami in Japan, the earthquake in Haiti? What about all...

  • The unblessed cup

    April 20, 2011 | 1:37 pm

    As we finish our Passover preparations, let’s take a moment to ponder: What has sustained us this past year and enables us to join a seder table? What has kept and nourished you and your family through the continued difficult economic climate and the other vicissitudes of life?...

  • Becoming a Kingdom of Priests: Achrei Mot (Leviticus 16:1-18:30)

    By Rabbi Anne Brener

    April 12, 2011 | 6:00 pm

    I want to recruit you into an order to which all Jews belong: the Mamlechet Kohanim, the Kingdom of Priests. I begin my campaign as we read of Aaron, the priest, and the instructions given him when he is, according to 12th century commentator Nachmanides, “in the most severe stage...

  • Reaching Out

    March 30, 2011 | 10:12 am

    In our postmodern age, it’s fascinating to note that Jews still widely observe several biblical-era practices. Two among them stand out: brit milah (ritual circumcision) and Pesach (Passover). It’s also worth mentioning that Elijah the prophet plays major roles during both....

  • Refining Our Souls

    By Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater

    March 22, 2011 | 6:18 pm

    The aphorism “you are what you eat” first appeared in French and then in German in the 1800s, and was then brought into English in the 1920s by nutritionist Victor Lindlahr, the inventor of the “catabolic diet.” Hippie foodies later adopted the phrase in the 1960s.

    But the...

  • Parashat Tzav (Leviticus 6:1-8:36

    By Rabbi Laura Geller

    March 15, 2011 | 5:18 pm

    In some prayer books, the opening verses of this week’s Torah portion serve as a preparation for prayer. The verses repeat over and over again that a perpetual fire shall continue to burn on the altar. Why the focus on the need to keep the fire burning? And what does it mean to us...

  • Calling Moses

    By Jeffrey Hensiek

    March 8, 2011 | 5:35 pm

    Jewish tradition instructs that young children should begin their Jewish education by studying the book of Leviticus. Even a cursory reading of the blood and gore that make up the sacrificial rites described in the third book of the Torah would lead most teachers to conclude that...

  • Recognizing a Community

    By Rabbi N. Daniel Korobkin

    March 1, 2011 | 6:00 pm

    When looking for biblical themes on the importance of community, one needs look no further than those portions at the end of Exodus that deal with the construction of the mishkan (Tabernacle). This special structure represents the collective spiritual power of the Jewish people,...

  • 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...

  • A new direction

    February 16, 2011 | 10:42 am

    Idolatry. Sexual immorality. Murder. The description of the events of the Golden Calf in this week’s portion sounds like the outline for a new cable television series. By the end of the portion, the main characters of Aaron and the Hebrews are forgiven and allowed to keep going on...

  • Offering Appreciation

    February 8, 2011 | 3:36 pm

    It is written that Rabbi Simeon asked Elijah: “What does the Holy One, blessed be God, study in the firmament?” Elijah said to him: “God studies the sacrificial offerings.”

    The bulk of our Torah portion, Tetzaveh, is devoted to rituals concerning sacrifice. A vast amount of the 613...

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