Influences (Parashat Metzora)
In the Haftorah portion attached to Metzora the thematic link of the skin afflictions caused by sin, in particular the sin of lashon hara (gossip, slander) is carried forward and developed into a real life event .Four leprous men star during a time when famine had engulfed Samaria and they in turn bring about a turning point in the conflict with the Syrian army. The critical issue though here is…Read More
Parashat Tazria: Leprosy, a bit of a sore issue?
This whole section seems so yucky and earthy to our modern sensitivities that we almost think it has to be consigned to the ‘olden days’. How do we even begin to connect with a section which talks about discharges and emissions, how these make you unclean? What about the uncleanness itself as a concept? Is this merely ritual, sin orientated or spiritual too? What can we learn from all this…Read More
I did it my way!
We have a fundamental choice in life: doing things G-d’s way or our own. The whole purpose of this portion is to show us that we need to do everything His way, not what seems good to us or as we think it ought to be done. The fire that descended from Heaven to the altar to consume the offerings brought in obedience to the commandments only did so because…Read More
The Temple was not a ‘nice’ place to be. It was a bloody and smelly place, not the place for the squeamish, blood was everywhere. There were burning corpses of animals already lifted up and offered as sacrifices to G-d, their blood draining away into the gullies and drains around the altar. Blood, and the sacrifices generally, were core to the daily work in the Mishkan and later Temple. Sacrifices…Read More
The bloody path of returning to G-d Jewish children of five years old begin their Torah study with this book, otherwise known as the Torat Cohanim, the Torah for the Priests. How ghastly to start with something as horrific and bloodthirsty as animal sacrifices! Surely we should begin with the Creation, or the building of the Mishkan, something visual and hands on. But no, it begins with sacrifices. And don’t…Read More
Why His way is not our way There are three themes that link together in this portion: The commandments about Shabbat, the freewill offerings given by the people and the building of the Mishkan. Why start this set of three with Shabbat? Interestingly Adam and Chava’s life after they were created began with Shabbat. Man’s thinking would be to start with the first working day of the week, but no,…Read More
Parashat Ki Tisa
“I’m sorry everyone, I’ve got a load of things to do today and I’m in a hurry so I need to rush through this.” Hmm, have you noticed we are always in a hurry? This has to be done, that has to be done. Even in our work, pressure is on us to meet deadlines etc… This week’s Sidra tells us that Moshe was still on the mountain with the…Read More
There are a number of key themes running through the building and equipping of the Mishkan (tabernacle), the altar with its incense and impact on the senses designed to remind us of the need for constant prayer, and the eternal light filling the area with light indicative of G-d’s presence eternally with us. We also now read of commandments to make garments for Aaron, for the priesthood. The Mishkan in…Read More
G-d’s Blueprint Nothing in the universe is left up to chance. We do not live in an unpredictable, unplanned cosmos wrought by the hidden uncontrolled hand of statistical randomness. The universe, all creation, runs according to the rules set down by the only G-d, of Avraham Yitzchak and Ya’akov. It is not a cold unfathomable place, hostile to humanity, far from it. It is a warm and above all righteous…Read More
“These are the rulings you are to present to them: If you purchase a Hebrew slave, he is to work six years; but in the seventh, he is to be given his freedom without having to pay anything. If he came single, he is to leave single; if he was married when he came, his wife is to go with him when he leaves. But if his master gave him…Read More