Principles from the Parsha: The Land Shall Observe Shabbat

Written by Joshua Z. Rokach on . Posted in Torah

The parsha Behar opens with the commandment that, on every seventh year from the time the Jews settle in Israel, they must leave their land fallow in observance of the shmitah year. The Torah twice calls the observance Shabbat. “[T]he Land shall rest [as] a Shabbat for the Lord.” (Leviticus 25:2). The Jewish Publication Society translates the text as “[T]hen shall the land keep a Sabbath unto the Lord.” In verse 4, we read, “But in the seventh year shall be a Shabbat of solemn rest, a Shabbat for the Lord.”

Does Judaism Make People Better or Worse?

Written by Michael Brodsky on . Posted in Torah

The very question seems out of place. The notion that the Torah, which was given to refine humanity, would be unsuccessful at that and have the potential to ruin men seems preposterous. Yet that is the message we are taught at the very end of the Torah’s narrative (Devarim 32:2): ״יערףכמטרלקחיתזלכטלאמרתיכשעירםעלידשאוכרביביםעליעשב״ — “May my doctrine drip as the rain, may my speech flow as the dew; like storm winds upon vegetation and like raindrops upon tender grass.” The Torah’s teachings are visibly equated with rain and dew, but in what sense?

Principles From the Parsha: Do Not Enter

Written by Joshua Z. Rokach on . Posted in Torah

The parsha Acharei Mot opens with an admonition for Aaron. After the death of Nadab and Abihu, the High Priest’s two elder sons, G-d commands Moses, “Speak with Aaron, your brother, [and tell him] that he should not enter the Holy [of Holies] at any time. . .” (Leviticus 16:2). Rather, “With this Aaron should enter the Holy [of Holies] a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.” (Leviticus 16:3). The Torah then describes the Yom Kippur service the High Priest conducted every year. It details the rituals and the vestments he should wear as he fulfills his duties on that day

The Two Faces of Sefirat Ha’omer

Written by Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz on . Posted in Torah

This issue of Kol HaBirah is dedicated to wellness and health, certainly important factors in our service to Hashem. A healthy body enables the performance of mitzvot and empowers us to accomplish our mission in the world, but I would like to focus on an aspect of psychological health — our perception of ourselves and others — and share an insight that can help us become more loving, giving, and generous people, which in turn will contribute to greater happiness and less stress. And, most importantly, we will be giving great nachas to the Almighty.

Principles From the Parsha: Preparing and Cleaning the Menorah

Written by Joshua Z. Rokach on . Posted in Torah

The opening verses of Behaalotcha seem out of place. Last week’s parsha closed with the story of the offerings of the chiefs of the tribes of Israel as the culmination of the consecration of the Tabernacle. This parsha begins with G-d commanding Moshe: “Tell [Aaron]: when you light the lamps, toward the face of the Menorah should the seven candles [beam their] light” (Numbers 8:2). The next two verses state that Aaron fulfilled his obligation without fail and that the Menorah, of one piece, looked like the image G-d showed Moshe.

שבועות – סור מרע ועשה טוב הרב חיים עובדיה

Written by Editor on . Posted in Torah

מאחר שאדם תמיד יכול להמשיך ולהתפתח מבחינה רוחנית, נפשית, ורגשית, הרי שבכל שנה ושנה הוא יכול לחוות מחדש מעמד של יציאה מעבדות או מכבלים, תהליך של ציפיה המסומל בספירת העומר, והתעלות רוחנית או הארה כמו בזמן מתן תורה


G-d’s Cosmic Joke

Written by Rabbi Stephen Baars on . Posted in Torah

Despite what you might hear on National Public Radio, the gap between the rich and the poor is not getting bigger.

Dvar Torah: Acharei Mot/Kedoshim

Written by Alan A. Fisher on . Posted in Torah

At the dedication of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) in the double parsha of Tazria/Metzora, Aharon’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, bring a “strange fire” that Hashem did not command, and a fire from the alter kills them immediately. The Torah interrupts the story of the dedication and its aftermath for five chapters that discuss various aspects of who is tahor (ritually pure) and who is tamei (ritually impure and unable to participate in the korbanot [sacrifices] at the Mishkan). With no obvious transition, we return to the chronology in Parshat Acharei Mot (ch. 16) with the laws of the Kohen Gadol’s (High Priest) atonement service on Yom Kippur. The Torah adds a prohibition on bringing korbanot any place outside the Mishkan, followed by the well-known section on forbidden marriages and sexual relationships. We read these chapters every year on Yom Kippur. (Many Conservative synagogues substitute chapter 19, from Parshat Kedoshim, for chapter 18 at mincha [afternoon prayer service] on Yom Kippur.)