Shemini

Shemini

THE RIGHT PLACE FOR A LECHAYIM! Nadav and Avihu, the two older sons of Aaron, tragically lose their lives in this week’s parasha. Why? They are accused of bringing Esh Zara or “strange fire” into the dedication service of the Tabernacle. What is this “strange fire?” One explanation is that it refers to the fire that was burning within them as a result of their drinking wine first. They entered the Sanctuary not completely sober. The succeeding verses make this absolutely clear: “And the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying, ‘Do not drink wine that will lead to intoxication, neither you...

Tzav – Pesach

Tzav – Pesach

WHY IS TODAY CALLED SHABBAT HAGADOL – ‘THE GREAT SHABBAT?’ The first reference to this name is found in Siddur Rashi (p.171.) The calculation is made that the Exodus took place on a Thursday. Hence, the 10th Nisan that year would have been a Shabbat. This was the time that the Israelites were commanded to take a lamb, the deity of the Egyptians, keep it in their homes for four days and slaughter it. Siddur Rashi cites Midrashim that the Egyptians were seething with rage at the action of the Israelites. However, they became smitten with sickness and afflictions and...

Vayakhel-Pekudei

Vayakhel-Pekudei

PRECIOUS METALS Last Friday night, at the end of the shul service, we had a magical moment. Two boys, Benjy and Natie Bulkin, came up to sing Yigdal. As their voices rang out in the shul, all of us there were filled with emotion. To hear children’s voices in shul again! Wow! We’re back where we belong! As we re-establish our communities again after lockdown, the voices of children are going to play a fundamental part in rebuilding Jewish life. It is so appropriate that in recent weeks we have been reading in shul the parashot that deal with the...

Ki Tissa

Ki Tissa

HEAVY LIFTING When Rachie and I were first married, we lived in Jerusalem while I was studying at the Mir Yeshiva. I remember one occasion when I arrived at an apartment building to visit a friend. At the same time, a van arrived and the driver proceeded to unload a fridge, which was to be delivered to a resident on the third floor. I stood, aghast, wondering how the driver, a middle-aged Russian oleh, who was not much more than five feet tall, was going to get the fridge up all those stairs in an apartment block without a lift!...

Tetzaveh

Tetzaveh

FOUR FACES OF LEADERSHIP What does it take to lead under Covid times – or indeed at any times? What are key qualities that are needed by a Prime Minister or President, Chief Medical Officer or Head of NASA’s Mars Perseverance Team, home-schooling parent or community Rabbi? Our mystical text, the Zohar, uncovers a key message from what is absent in this week’s parsha. Moses enjoyed a privilege above all other prophets and sages in our history: G-d spoke directly to him. From the beginning of the book of Exodus to the end of the Torah, his name is mentioned...