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Ki Tissa
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Ki Tissa

ARE YOU STIFF NECKED? Is being stubborn a good quality or a bad quality? In this week’s parasha, G-d says to Moses that he is going to punish the Jewish nation after they had sinned with the golden calf, VeHinei Am Keshei Oref Hu, “behold this is a stiff-necked people.” (Shemot 32:9) Yet, when Moses...

Tetzaveh
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Tetzaveh

PURE LIGHTS This week’s parasha begins with the commandment to kindle the Menorah in the Temple and the Mishkan (mobile Temple): “Command the Israelites to bring you pure olive oil, pressed for illumination, to kindle the lamp every night.” (Shemot 27:20) We all kindle Shabbat lights and Chanukah lights. Some of us will use candles...

Terumah
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Terumah

GOLDEN AGE, SILVER AGE, BRONZE AGE The building of the Sanctuary or Tabernacle forms the subject of our Torah reading for the next five weeks. The intricate details of the structure have given rise to many symbolic interpretations. The most basic and fundamental is expressed in the words themselves: “They shall make a Sanctuary for...

Mishpatim
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Mishpatim

GOING THROUGH THE DOOR There is a curious law described at the beginning of our parasha. A Hebrew slave who had served his six-year term was entitled to go free. If he chose to stay, he was required to have his ear pierced. After the judges decided that this genuinely was the slave’s wish then...

Yitro
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Yitro

JETHRO’S JOURNEY In this week’s parasha, Jethro travels from Midian to the Sinai desert. But if we look carefully, we will see that it’s not just a physical journey that Jethro undertakes. It seems that there is a spiritual journey happening as well. Let me explain. At the beginning of the parasha he is referred...

Bo
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Bo

DID G-D GIVE PHARAOH CARDIAC DISEASE? Throughout the episode of the Ten Plagues, described in last week’s and this week’s sidra, we read of the ‘hardening of Pharaoh’s heart.’ For the first five plagues, it is Pharaoh who hardens his own heart. For the remainder, we read that it is G-d who hardens Pharaoh’s heart....

Va’era
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Va’era

FAMILY TREE The drama of the Exodus story has begun. Moses’ first meeting with Pharaoh has had its setback. G-d promises to redeem his people with four expressions of liberation that we reflect in our four cups of wine at the Seder. Then, in the entire sheni or second portion, the narrative is interrupted with...

Shemot
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Shemot

RIGHTEOUS GENTILES Persecution of the Jews begins, in history, in this week parasha. Pharaoh orders Hebrew baby boys to be killed at birth. At the same time, the Torah informs us of gentiles who refused to obey such orders. Pharaoh instructs women who are called HaMeyaldot Ha’Ivriyot – the Hebrew Midwives to carry out his...

Vayechi
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Vayechi

THE RIGHT BLESSING Simchat Torah night in Czarist Russia was an occasion not only of great joy but also great anticipation. The custom in some communities was to auction aliyot for sections in the Torah that were going to be read in the course of the coming year. It was the time of the Czarist...

Vayigash
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Vayigash

PUBLIC HERO VERSUS PRIVATE HERO The interaction between Judah and Joseph at the beginning of the parasha, sets the scene for two prototypes of greatness: the Judah-type and the Joseph-type. The public tzaddik and the private tzaddik. When, as a result of Judah’s impassion pleas, Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers, he does so...