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Parsha Ponderings – Shemini

IT’S ALL RELATIVE ויקרא משה אל מישאל ואל אליצפן בני עוזיאל דד אהרן ויאמר אליהם קרבו שאו את אחיכם מאת פני הקדש אל מחוץ למחנה ויקרבו וישאם בכתנתם אל מחוץ למחנה וגו‘ And Moshe called to Mishael and to Elizafan, sons of Uziel uncle of Aharon, and he said to them, “Approach, carry your brothers […]

Parsha Ponderings- Vayakhel

LIFE- IT’S WHAT THE HAVES HAVE NOT ולא יכל משה לבוא אל אהל מועד כי שכן עליו הענן וכבוד ד’ מלא את המשכן. ובהעלות הענן מעל המשכן יסעו בני ישראל בכל מסעיהם And Moshe could not enter the Tent of Meeting for the cloud rested upon it, and the Glory of God filled the Tabernacle. […]

PARSHA PONDERINGS-KI SAVO SELF-DE”NILE”

והשיבך ד’ מצרים באניות בדרך אשר אמרתי לך לא תוסיף עוד לראותה And God shall return you to Egypt in boats, on the way of which I [Moshe] told you, “You shall never again see it!” It is the climax, the horrifying crescendo of a horrifying admonition: Moshe foretells of an entire litany of calamities […]

Parsha Ponderings – Eikev – “Mine”ing Mettle

ארץ אשר לא במסכנות תאכל בה לחם, לא תחסר כל בה, ארץ אשר אבניה ברזל ומהרריה תחצב נחשת A land in which not in impoverishment shall you eat bread, you shall lack for nothing in it; a land whose stones are iron and from whose mountains you shall mine copper In contrasting the conditions of […]

Parsha Ponderings – Va’eschanan + = – (so I failed math…)

לא תוסיפו על הדבר אשר אנכי מצוה אתכם ולא תגרעו ממנו You shall not add to that which I command you, nor shall you subtract from it In a perplexing introduction to a forthcoming cautionary address, Moshe, who had communicated God’s Torah to the Jewish nation for decades, now warns them not to add or […]

Parsha Ponderings – Parshas Devarim – Breaking Mountains into Molehills

ויאמר ד’ אלי לאמר: רב לכם סב את ההר הזה, פנו לכם צפונה: And God spoke to me [Moshe] saying: Enough of your circling around this mountain [Mt. Sa’ir], turn yourselves northward. Nearing his final days among the living, Moshe delivers a marathon pep talk to the Jewish nation, better known to us as the […]

Parsha Ponderings – Bamidbar

 OF HUES AND “DO”S After assigning the Tribes to their respective spots in the Israelite encampment, the Torah goes on to describe the process of disassembling the Tabernacle and preparing its vessels for travel. While each vessel was packed in unique fashion, the general process was the same for all; each vessel was covered with two […]

Parsha Ponderings – Bechukosai

SWIPE YOUR VISA, NOT YOUR MASTERCARD והארץ לא תמכר לצמיתות כי לי הארץ כי גרים ותושבים אתם עמדי The land shall not be sold in perpetuity for the the land is mine, for you are sojourners and citizens with Me The Land of Israel is unique. Each tribe is assigned a region, each family a […]

Parsha Ponderings – Metzora – Alternative Medicine is an Oxymoron

זאת תהי’ תורת המצורע ביום טהרתו והובא אל הכהן This shall be the law of the Metzora on the day of his purification; he shall be brought before the Kohein Having thoroughly discussed the detailed laws of Tzoraas itself, the Torah finally turns to the purification process through which the Metzora, or Tzoraas-sufferer, is reintroduced […]

Parsha Ponderings- Tazria- Allergen Information: May Contain Traces of Sin

אשה כי תזריע וילדה זכר A woman who shall conceive, and give birth to a male Parshas Tazria begins with the birth of a Jewish boy, and a discussion of the laws of impurity which accompany that occasion. Midrash Tanchuma, in an apparent attempt to explain the proximity of this discussion and that of the […]

Parsha Ponderings – Tzav

ASPIRE, NEVER TIRE, AND YOU’RE SURE TO CATCH FIRE זאת תורת העלה היא העולה על מוקדה על המזבח כל הלילה עד הבקר ואש המזבח תוקד בו This is the matter of the elevation-offering; it is the elevation-offering [which stays] on the flame upon the altar the entire night until morning, and the fire of the altar […]

Parsha Ponderings-Vayikra

DON’T PASS ON SALT FOR THIS MEAL! וכל קרבן מנחתך במלח תמלח, ולא תשבית מלח ברית אלקיך מעל מנחתך, על כל קרבנך תקריב מלח Your every meal-offering you shall salt with salt, you shall not rest the salt of your God’s covenant from upon your meal-offering; upon all your sacrifices you shall bring salt The […]

Parsha Ponderings – Pekudei – To Darken the Light and Brighten the Night

כי ענן ד’ על המשכן יומם ואש תהי’ לילה בו לעיניכל בית ישראל בכל מסעיהם For the cloud of God would be on the Tabernacle by day, and [His] fire would be in it by night, before the eyes of all of the House of Israel, in all their travels. The parting verse of the […]

Parsha Ponderings – Teruma – of Planting Trees and Transplanting Godliness

  ועשית את הקרשים למשכן, עצי שטים עומדים And you shall make the planks for the Tabernacle, of acacia wood, standing upright. Having concluded its instructions for crafting the vessels of the Tabernacle, the Torah finally arrives at the construction of the Tabernacle itself. “You shall make the planks for the Tabernacle”, commands God, “of acacia […]

Parsha Ponderings – Mishpatim – The State of Our Union

ויבא משה ויספר לעם את כל דברי ד’ ואת כל המשפטים, ויען כל העם קול אחד ויאמרו כל אשר דבר ד’ נעשה: ויכתב משה את כל דברי ד’ וישכם בבקר ויבן מזבח תחת ההר, ושתים עשרה מצבה לשנים עשר שבטי ישראל And Moshe came, and told the people all the words of God and all […]

Parsha Ponderings – Mishpatim

OF CAPTIVATION AND CAPTIVITY ואלה המשפטים אשר תשים לפניהם: כי תקנה עבד עברי וגו’ These are the laws you shall place before them: If you shall acquire a Hebrew slave etc. With the Revelation behind them, it was now time for the Israelites to become acquainted with the laws of the Torah they had accepted. […]

Parsha Ponderings – Ki Seitzei – Forget-Me-Not or I’ll-Be-Your-Lot

זכור את אשר עשה לך עמלק בדרך בצאתכם ממצרים. אשר קרך בדרך ויזנב בך כל הנחשלים אחריך ואתה עיף ויגע ולא ירא אלקים. והי’ בהניח ד’ אלקיך לך מכל אויביך מסביב בארץ אשר ד’ נותן לך נחלה לרשתה תמחה את זכר עמלק מתחת השמים לא תשכח Remember that which Amalek did to you, on the […]

Parsha Ponderings – Naso – Taking Up the Quill, and Prescribing the Pill

‘דבר אל בני ישראל ואמרת אלהם איש או אשה כי יפלא לנדור נדר נזיר להזיר לד       Speak to the Israelites and you shall say to them: A man or woman who shall do something fascinating and take a Nazarite vow of abstinence for the sake of Hashem       In presenting […]

Parsha Pondering – Emor

WONDERLAND ISN’T AT SEE-WORLD עד ממחרת השבת השביעית תספרו חמשים יום והקרבתם מנחה חדשה לד’ ממושבותיכם תביאו לחם תנופה שתים שמי עשרונים וגו’ Until the morrow of the seventh week you shall count, fifty days, and you shall offer a new meal-offering to God. From your dwelling places you shall bring bread to be waved, […]

Parsha Ponderings – Tetzaveh – Digging for Oil

ואתה תצוה את בני ישראל ויקחו אליך שמן זית זך כתית למאור להעלות נר תמיד And you [Moshe] shall command the Israelites, and they shall take to you pure olive oil, pressed for illumination, to kindle the lights continually. In conveying to Moshe the commandment for the Israelites to donate olive oil for the Menorah, […]

PARSHA PONDERINGS-NITZAVIM – GOD LIKES “WHOLES” IN HIS BUDGET

אתם נצבים היום כלכם לפני ד’ אלקיכם, ראשיכם שבטיכם זקניכם ושוטריכם כל איש ישראל טפכם נשיכם וגרך אשר בשעריך מחטב עציך עד שואב מימיך You stand today, all of you, before God, your Lord, the heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, the all of the men of Israel. Your small children, your […]

Parsha Ponderings – Pinchas

Hiding amongst the seasonal korban offerings enumerated in Parshas Pinchos, lies the water-offering known as nisuch hamayim, or the water-pouring, brought annually on the festival of Sukkos. Chazal derive this unique offering from three extra letters in the Torah spread out between the passages discussing the various offerings brought on each day of Sukkos respectively. […]

Parsha Ponderings – Korach – If You Live in Hell, You’ll Live in Hell

ויקח קרח בן יצהר בן קהת בן לוי ודתן ואבירם בני אליאב ואון בן פלת בני ראובן And Korach, son of Yitzhar, son of Kehas, son of Levi, took, as did Dasan and Aviram, sons of Eliav, and On, son of Peles, of the tribe of Reuven The opening words of our Parsha, which describe […]

PARSHA PONDERINGS-SHELACH TETHERED BY A STRING

והיה לכם לציצת וראיתם אותו וזכרתם את כל מצות ד’ ועשיתם אותם  It shall be for you Tzitzis [fringes], and you shall see it,  and you shall remember all of God’s commandments, and you shall do them.   God instructs Moshe to convey the Mitzvah of Tzitzis to the Israelites. “Speak to the Israelites and […]

Parsha Ponderings- Tazria-Metzora

WHATEVER, BUT NEVER MIND איש צרוע הוא טמא הוא טמא יטמאנו הכהן בראשו נגעו He is a man of Tzaraas, he is impure, the priest shall certainly declare him impure, his affliction is on his head A careful study of the Torah’s discussion on Tzoraas, a physical ailment reflective of spiritual iniquity, will reveal a telling pattern: Throughout […]

Parsha Ponderings – behaaloscha

TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!!! ויאמרו האנשים ההמה אליו אנחנו טמאים לנפש אדם למה נגרע לבלתי הקריב את קרבן ד’ במועדו בתוך בני ישראל And those men said to him [Moshe]: We are ritually impure by way of a human corpse; why shall we be diminished by not bringing God’s offering [i.e. the Pascal lamb] in […]

Parsha Ponderings – Naso

DIVERSE UNIVERSE Much of this week’s Torah portion seems repetitive and entirely superfluous. The Torah spells out the content of each Nasi’s (tribal leader) korban offering separately, though all twelve were identical. Entire folios of Chumash pass by without a single remark by the commentaries. What is the object of this seemingly unnecessary repetition? Ramban, […]

Parsha Ponderings- Acharei-Kedoshim

  FLIP SO YOU DON’T FLOP איש אביו ואמו תיראו ואת שבתותי תשמורו, אני ד‘ אלקיכם: אל תפנו אל האלילים, ואלקי מסכה לא תעשו לכם אני ד‘ אלקיכם: Each man, his father and mother, he shall revere, and my Sabbath you shall observe, I am God, your Lord. Do not turn to the idols, and […]

Emor – (There Ain’t Nothin’) Holier Than Thou

וספרתם לכם ממחרת השבת מיום הביאכם את עמר התנופה שבע שבתות תמימות תהיינה You shall count for yourselves from the morrow of the rest day, from the day you bring the Omer offering, seven weeks; they shall be complete The start date of Sefiras Ha’omer, known to us as the second day of Pesach, is […]

Parsha Ponderings – Kedoshim – Self-Expansionism, Torah Style

ואהבת לרעך כמוך You shall love your friend like yourself The well-known words “Love your friend like yourself”, are so often quoted that little thought is given to their actual implication. “Like yourself”? Is it really possible to love someone else to the same degree as one loves himself? Moreover, even if we were to […]

Moadim Musings- PURIM

SAVE YOUR PRIDE, NOT YOUR HIDE! ויאמר מרדכי להשיב אל אסתר. אל תדמי בנפשך להמלט בית המלך מכל היהודים, כי אם החרש תחרישי בעת הזאת רוח והצלה יעמוד ליהודים ממקום אחר ואת ובית אביך תאבדו Mordechai said to reply to Esther: Do not entertain in your soul to escape in the king’s palace from amongst […]

Parsha Ponderings-Tetzaveh

SELF-ALTARATION ועשית מזבח מקטר קטרת And you shall make an Altar of Incense-burning Buried in the back pages of Parshas Tetzaveh, a Parsha otherwise entirely devoted to the topic of priests and their vestments, we discover a discussion regarding the building of the Altar of Incense. While similar discussions of other Tabernacle vessels are confined […]

Parshas Vayeishev 5769

    The Parshah begins with Yosef’s 2 dreams, the one with wheat and the one with stars. The idea of both dreams is the same. Later in Parshas Mikeitz, we also have 2 dreams, however, it is Paroh doing the dreaming. Also, very similar dreams, one with wheat and one with cows. When Yosef […]

PARSHA PONDERINGS-LECH LECHA BE NOT A TRAITOR TO THINE TRAITS

Returning from the battlefield after rescuing Lot and dealing the “Four Kings” a resounding defeat, Avram is greeted by two individuals: Malki Tzedek, King of Jerusalem, and Bera, King of Sodom. Bera offers him riches he rightfully deserves, – namely, the booty of war-, yet Avram declines. Malki Tzedek, on the other hand, asks for […]

MOADIM MUSINGS SUKKOS 5782

WHEN THE SUN GETS INTO SHADY BUSINESS There is something strikingly odd about Sukkos and its place in the Jewish year-cycle. All year round, we live in a dark world. God hides, Man slides, sin thrives, and darkness abides. And then comes Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. God appears, the air clears, we make amends, […]

Parsha Ponderings – Shoftim – King, JR.

והי’ כשבתו על כסא ממלכתו וכתב לו את משנה התורה הזאת על ספר מלפני הכהנים הלוים והיתה עמו וקרא בו כל ימי חייו למען ילמד ליראה את ד’ אלקיו לשמור את כל דברי התורה הזאת ואת החקים האלה לעשותם And it shall be as he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write […]

Parsha Ponderings – Parshas Masei

אֵלֶּה מַסְעֵי בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר יָצְאוּ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לְצִבְאֹתָם בְּיַד־מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן ‘וַיִּכְתּב מֹשֶׁה אֶת־מוֹצָאֵיהֶם לְמַסְעֵיהֶם עַל־פִּי ד These are the travels of the Israelites who left the land of Egypt led by Moshe and Aharon. And Moshe wrote the goings of their travels as dictated to him by God. These two opening verses of Parshas Ma’asei […]

Parsha Ponderings – Matos

וידבר ד’ אל משה לאמר: נקום נקמת בני ישראל מאת המדינים, אחר תאסף אל עמך And God spoke to Moshe saying: Avenge the vengeance of the Israelites against the Midianites, after which you shall pass on. In instructing Moshe to launch retaliatory action against Midian, God makes a point of informing him that his death […]

Parsha Ponderings – Shelach- Turning “What in Heaven’s Name!?!” to “What? in Heaven’s Name!”

ויהס כלב את העם אל משה ויאמר עלה נעלה וירשנו אותה כי יכול נוכל לה And Calev hushed the people toward Moshe, and said, “We shall surely ascend and conquer it [the Land], for we can certainly overcome it!”   The spies had returned, and the Israelites gathered round, anxious to hear the first eyewitness […]

Moadim Musings – Shavuos – Holiness Unleashed

Shavuos, aside from being a holiday itself, has the unmatched capacity to turn scores of otherwise ordinary days into semi-holidays along with it. How so, you ask? Consider this. During each of the three Regalim festivals, namely Pesach, Shavuos and Sukkos, there is an obligation to bring an offering known as a Chagiga. One who […]

Parsha Ponderings – Bamidbar – Cut of the Same Cloth

ולקחו בגד תכלת וכסו את מנורת המאור ואת נרותיה ואת מלקחיה ואת מחתותיה ואת כל כלי שמנה אשר ישרתו בה בהם And they shall take a techeiles-garment and cover the Menorah of Illumination and its lamps, tongs, scoops and oil vessels, with which they minister to it An analysis of the process used to wrap […]

Parsha Ponderings – Bechukosai – The Yoke-Choke

אני ד’ אלקיכם אשר הוצאתי אתכם מארץ מצרים ואשבור מוטות עלכם ואולך אתכם קוממיות I am God, your Lord, who took you out of Egypt; I broke the fasteners of your yoke and led you erect Concluding the first half of Parshas Bechukosai’s “Tochacha”, or Admonition, which discusses the positive ramifications of heeding the Torah, […]

Parsha Ponderings – Shemini – Where Does God Rest? Wherever There’s Zest!

‘ויקחו את אשר צוה משה אל פני אוהל מועד ויקרבו כל העדה ויעמדו לפני ה’ ויאמר משה זה הדבר אשר ציוה ה’ תעשו וירא אליכם כבוד ה And they took that which Moshe had commanded them [i.e. the sacrificial animals] to the front of the Tent of Meeting, and the entire nation drew near, and […]

Moadim (A)Musings – Savin’ the Toasters from the Roasters

The Purim story begins with the Jews attending a party they had no business partying at. In what can only be described as the height of callousness, they came for the free food and spirits distributed at a party celebrating their own demise as a nation, with nary a thought given to the absurdity of […]

Parsha Ponderings – Vayakhel – E Pluribus, Unum

ויקהל משה את כל עדת בני ישראל ויאמר אליהם אלה הדברים אשר צוה ד’ לעשות אותם: ששת ימים תעשה מלאכה וביום השביעי יהי’ לכם קדש שבת שבתון לד Moshe gathered the entire assembly of the Israelites and said to them: “These are the things that God has commanded, to do them. Six days, work shall be […]

Parsha Ponderings – Ki Tisa – Heaven (is not Exactly) on Earth

וירא העם כי בשש משה לרדת מן ההר, ויקהל העם על אהרן ויאמרו אליו, קום עשה לנו אלהים אשר ילכו לפנינו כי זה משה האיש אשר העלנו ממצרים, לא ידענו מה היה לו The people saw that Moshe had delayed in descending the mountain, and they gathered around Aharon and said to him, Rise and […]