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  1. Sacrifice and Humility

    Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on April 11, 2014 in God

    The Torah reading opens with God speaking to Moses in the aftermath of the death of Aaron’s two sons, Nadav and Avihu, who “drew too close to the presence of the Lord” (Lev. 16:1). Their death is both shocking and mysterious. But most immediately, ...

    stasch - April 10, 2014

  2. The Fire Within

    Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on March 11, 2014 in God

    Parashat Tzav discusses the role of the priests in the Temple, and emphasizes the vigilance with which they were to offer sacrifices. As the parashah opens, Aaron and his sons are commanded to tend to the ritual of the burnt offering. “A perpetual ...

    cldemesier - March 13, 2014

  3. The Power of Partnership and Positive Thinking

    Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on February 26, 2014 in God

    The raising of the Tabernacle was a daunting task for the Israelites. Based on Exodus 39:33, “And they brought the Tabernacle to Moses, the tent and all its vessels,” Rashi makes the claim that the people themselves were incapable of erecting the ...

    cldemesier - February 26, 2014

  4. Offerings as Devotion and Redemption

    Commentary by Rabbi Stephen A. Geller on February 25, 2014 in God

    Parashat Pekudei ends with a tremendous scene, one of the highlights of the Bible: the divine Glory, the kavod , comes down from heaven and settles into the newly completed Tabernacle so that Moses cannot enter it. This is the culmination of th ...

    cldemesier - February 28, 2014

  5. Va-yikra—Lean Out

    Commentary by Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky on February 24, 2014 in God

    This week we begin reading the middle book of the Five Books of Moses, Leviticus. Its position in the Torah scroll is not just coincidental; the laws of Leviticus are central to the earliest rabbis’ understanding of Judaism. The rules in the book ...

    cldemesier - March 3, 2014

  6. Wisdom of the Heart

    Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on February 19, 2014 in God

    In many ways, Parashat Vayak-hel repeats the instruction of previous parashiyot. Moses assembles the entire community and urges them to bring gifts. More than that, Bezalel and Ohaliav are singled out as the artisan architects that will bring the ...

    cldemesier - February 20, 2014

  7. Moses as Prophetic Psychologist

    Commentary by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on February 12, 2014 in God

    The notorious centerpiece of Parashat Ki Tissa is the episode of the Golden Calf. The Israelites, at the base of Mount Sinai, grow impatient, imagining the worst vis-à-vis Moses’s fate. They turn to his brother Aaron and demand, “Come, make us a g ...

    cldemesier - February 13, 2014

  8. On Doubt and Prayer (Part 3)

    Commentary by Rabbi Samuel Barth on February 11, 2014 in God

    The droughts experienced recently in California and Israel became so severe that religious leaders of many faith traditions called for special prayers for rain. In the context of the history of Jewish liturgy, this is especially resonant, for much ...

    cldemesier - February 13, 2014

  9. Arts and Crafts: Commentary on Parashat Ki Tissa

    Commentary by Dr. Alan Cooper on February 11, 2014 in God

    There are aspects of the Bible’s account of the construction of the Tabernacle in the wilderness that seem incredible; so much so that early critical commentators tended to reject its historical accuracy out of hand. While more recent scholars, ci ...

    cldemesier - February 13, 2014

  10. Memory and Covenant: The Role of Israel's and God's Memory in Sustaining the Deuteronomic and Priestly Covenants

    Audio by JTS on February 3, 2014 in God

    February 3, 2014 -- Memory and Covenant: The Role of Israel's and God's Memory in Sustaining the Deuteronomic and Priestly Covenants combines a close reading of texts in the Deuteronomic, Priestly, and Holiness traditions with analys ...

    cldemesier - March 10, 2014

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