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Nasso

Posted on May 29th, 2017

Numbers 4:21-7:89 


BY RABBI NOAH ARNOW, JTS, for myjewishlearning.com 


In the Priestly Blessing, Seeing Parenthood’s Trajectory


A prayer for yesterday, today and tomorrow — all in one.


The journey of parenthood is strange and winding. At first we are responsible for these tiny, precious bodies that rely on us completely. Then, they slowly grow, and become increasingly independent, and somehow don’t need us anymore. They become our peers, looking us eye to eye, borrowing clothes, debating us. And before we know it, they have surpassed us — in height and accomplishment. Eventually we find they are taking care of us..

I think of myself and my children in these three stages every time I bless them with the Priestly Blessing (Numbers 6:24-26) on Friday nights (well, every time I bless them and no one is crying, which, thankfully, is happening more frequently).

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Bamidbar

Posted on May 22nd, 2017

NUMBERS 1:1−4:20 


BY RABBI IRWIN KULA for myjewishlearning.com 


Through The Wilderness


The stage of journeying through the wilderness is an essential part of the transformation from slavery to freedom.


The Book of Numbers, Bamidbar, describes the Israelites’ 40-year journey through the desert on their way to the Promised Land. Why devote an entire book to the desert experience?

Bamidbar represents an important stage in the journey of the people from slavery to freedom. The wilderness, far beyond its geographic or historic reality, enters the Jewish experience as a central metaphor for understanding who we are and what we must do.

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BeHAR - BeCHUKOTAI

Posted on May 15th, 2017

Leviticus 25:1-26:2 / 26:3-27:34 


Rabbi Adam Rosenbaum, USCJ


Once they enter the Promised Land, the Israelites must allow the land to go untouched once every seven years, during which they eat what the earth naturally produces (God will provide enough crops to guarantee that the Israelites will eat well). Once every fifty years is the Jubilee year, in which all people are allowed to return to their land they originally held but later sold. The overriding idea is that the land belongs to God, and its residents must allow the land to be redeemed, even if that means allowing the original land-owner to pay a reduced rate to reclaim his/her land.

Additionally, a fellow Israelite with financial difficulties can be an indentured servant but not a slave. An Israelite who becomes indentured to a non-Israelite retains the right to redemption, and can certainly be emancipated during the Jubilee Year.

The portion ends with an exhortation to avoid idolatry and observe God’s Sabbaths.

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Emor

Posted on May 8th, 2017

Leviticus 21:1 - 24:23 


BY RABBI BRADLEY ARTSON myjewishlearning.com


The Pursuit Of Happiness


As identified Jews, our speech and actions reflect on our families and the larger Jewish people.


American culture glories in individuality and autonomy. The foundation documents of the United States affirm the right of each individual to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Pilgrims fled England and Europe, so we are told, to practice religious liberty and to find individual freedom as well.

Justly proud of our national ideals of personal liberty and freedom, we cherish the ability to pursue happiness each in our own way. Even those Americans who came later came in search of economic freedom and personal expression. The ability to move wherever one chose, to work in any field one could, to rise as one’s talent could propel a career, speaks still to the core of our ideals as Americans.

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Acharei Mot-Kedoshim

Posted on May 1st, 2017

LEVITICUS 16:1-20:27 


By RABBI NEAL J. LOEVINGER, for MyJewishLearning.com


Reading The Prohibition Against Homosexuality In Context

 

The sexual relationships forbidden by the Torah are intended to prohibit non-Israelite religious practices and abuses of power.


Overview

In the beginning of this portion, the Torah notes that the following laws were given “after the death of Aaron’s two sons.” Then the Yom Kippur service is described, including ritual purifications and the sending of the “scapegoat” into the wilderness. Rules are given for separating meat from its blood, and other dietary laws. Finally, there is a list of forbidden sexual relationships, given in the context of a general prohibition against following the practices of other nations.

In Focus
“You shall not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; it is abhorrent” (Leviticus 18:22).

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