The portion begins with ‘in the wilderness or desert’. One year after receiving the Torah at Sinai we begin to move on into the next 39 years of wandering through a barren land. We had come out of Egypt (a metaphor for the world’s system) and headed to decision day, our meeting with G-d at Sinai, where we chose to follow (or as the early responses to G-d revealed- rebel…Read More
When was the last time you looked in to the mirror? Can you remember what you saw? What did you look like? Or have you forgotten already? Ya’akov (James) 1: 222 – 24 says, “Don’t deceive yourselves by only hearing what the Word says, but do it! For whoever hears the Word but doesn’t do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror, who…Read More
Making Time for G-d In Vayikra (Lev) 21:8 we are told that it is G-d alone who makes us holy. He then wants us to BE holy in our walk with Him and before the world. G-d moves us from the camp of the unholy to the camp of the holy, and only He can do that. But once you’ve come into that camp you have to live out what…Read More
Acharei Mot / Kedoshim
Reactive Land This double portion focuses completely on redressing the balance after the death of Nadav and Avihu and their sin of presumption, a presumption that God would accept anything they did and the inherent dangers of the people being taught the wrong thing due to their actions if not words. The long section on holiness naturally flows from this event, a corrective reminder of the path of righteousness, a…Read More
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