Tzav - Shabbat Hagadol

Posted on March 19th, 2018

Leviticus 6:1−8:36; Special Haftarah: Malachi 3:4 - 3:24 

By Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Why Civilisations Die

In her recent “The Watchman’s Rattle”, subtitled ‘Thinking our way out of extinction’, Rebecca Costa delivers a fascinating account of how civilisations die. Their problems become too complex. Societies reach what she calls a cognitive threshold. They simply can’t chart a path from the present to the future.

The example she gives is the Mayans. For a period of three and a half thousand years, between 2,600 BCE and 900 CE, they developed an extraordinary civilisation, spreading over what is today Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Belize with an estimated population of 15 million people.

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Shabbat HaChodesh - Vayikra

Posted on March 12th, 2018

Leviticus 1:1−5:26 

Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier for

VaYikrah – With a Small Aleph (VaYikrah – Con un Aleph Pequeño)

“And HASHEM called to Moshe, and HASHEM spoke to him from the Ohel Moed, saying. . .” — VaYikrah 1:1

Sefer VaYikrah opens with the expression:

ויקרא אל משה “And HASHEM called to Moshe.” The word ויקרא is written with a small aleph.

The Baal HaTurim explains that this was because of Moshe Rabbeinu’s extreme humility. HASHEM told him to write the word ויקרא with an aleph. That implies that HASHEM called Moshe to come forward for an audience. Moshe felt that was too much honor. He wanted it to appear as if it were more of a random occurrence. When HASHEM spoke to Bilaam, the Torah used the expression “ויקר” to mean that is wasn’t a formal audience, just a chance happening. So Moshe requested to write the word here without the aleph. HASHEM told him not to do that, but to write the word out fully. Out of his extreme humility, Moshe said he would only write it with a small aleph to somehow keep the connotation that it wasn’t a formal invitation.

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Vayakhel-Pekudei / Shabbat Parah

Posted on March 5th, 2018

Exodus 35:1–40:38 

Rabbi Yoel Bin Nun, Ph.D for 

The Textual Source for the 39 Melachot of Shabbat 

Rabbinic literature takes it as a given that there are 39 forms of melacha (work) prohibited on Shabbat. The number 39—forty minus one in the Mishna’s parlance—appears set in stone. This is clear from even a cursory glance at all of the Rabbinic passages dealing with the forms of melacha forbidden on Shabbat, whether in the Mishna, the midrashei halacha, and the two Talmudim.[2] In many cases, the Rabbis force any accepted form of melacha into the rubric of 39 melachot. To keep the list to the proper number, they include some and exclude others, they cover more than one type of work under a single name[3] or in one overarching category,[4] or they separate similar forms into different categories.[5] In the end, the sum always ends up equaling the preexisting correct number, 39.

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Ki Tisa

Posted on February 26th, 2018

EXODUS 30:11−34:35 

Rabbi Herzl Hefter for 

The Smashing of the Luchot as a Paradigm Shift 

I believe that current biblical scholarship which undermines the traditional belief in the textual integrity of the Torah and its’ accurate historicity provides a precious opportunity to engender a spiritual revitalization of traditional Judaism. Through the following reading of the smashing of the luchot and by analogy, I wish to explain why I believe this.

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Posted on February 19th, 2018

Exodus 27:20 - 30:10; Maftir:  Deuteronomy 25:17-19 

Rabbi Moshe Becker for 

Let Everyone Shine

Allowing each individual's particular talents to find expression strengthens the entire unit.

We all have talents and abilities, as do our siblings and friends. At times we have difficulty recognizing a sister’s talents; at other times we may be jealous of a sibling’s unique capabilities. We must develop the confidence in our own roles to the point that we can let our brothers and sisters shine.



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