Thoughts for Sefirat HaOmer
With the last days of Pesah/Passover already here, we have been counting the Omer for a few days now. There are all sorts of good discussions and teachings about what the deeper, inner meaning of Sefirat HaOmer. Have you ever considered, ‘what is the simple meaning of Sefirat HaOmer?’ What is the meaning of this counting from Pesah until Shavuot? What is the meaning of this counting from Leaving Egypt until Standing at Sinai, Receiving God’s Torah?
Thoughts for Tzav
As has been noted many times throughout the history of our Exile, it is extremely difficult for us to grasp and appreciate the details of the Mikdash/Temple without experience. Some notions or details are nearly impossible for us to relate to. Yet, our sages throughout the generations have succeeded in teaching us important lessons at all levels from this most mysterious area of the Torah.
Thoughts for Vayikra
Vayikra is a tough humash to learn. The activity of this entire humash takes place over a two week period. The central focus is on the mishkan and korbanot; difficult topics in their own right and difficult for many modern people to relate to.
Byte Sized Thoughts for Vayakhel-P’kudei
Due to distraction, fatigue, and writing this at work I will offer this time around some short ideas and thoughts on the sedra. May Hashem bless us with strength and clarity in learning His Torah!
The last verse of the first parsha/section (Sh’mot 35:3) tells us ‘do not burn a fire in all your habitations on the Sabbath day.’ There is a tradition that says that this refers to ‘aish hamahloket’, the fire of disputes. Here Hashem is telling us that while it is forbidden to do any m’lacha (particular productive labours) on Shabbat; there is a unique need to avoid argument on Shabbat.
Thoughts for Ki Tisa
In this sedra we read verses that are familiar to Jews all over the world. In so many homes, in so many congregations on Shabbat morning, we make kiddush with the verses “v’shamru vnai yisrael et hashabbat…”
That entire parsha/paragraph calls for some special attention. The section begins with Hashem commanding us to ‘especially’ (ach) keep the Shabbat. The exhortation to keep the Shabbat continues with note of the punishment for violating it, and then what may be read as a response “the descendants of Israel will keep the Shabbat making it the Shabbat for generations, an eternal covanent.”
Thoughts for Parshat Zachor
Each year we read the special section of Parshat Zachor just before Purim. What is the connection between the two? The most common answer traces the line from Amalek, who we confront in the Torah reading, to the sparing of Agag’s life by King Saul, to the eventual rise of Haman. In other words, there is an historical connection among all the figures, and a lesson that sparing the most bitter and dangerous of our enemies in defiance of God’s command can lead to dire consequences far in the unforeseen future.
Esther 9:27 – “The Jews upheld and accepted on themselves and on their descendants and on all associated with them…”
Concerning ‘upheld’ and ‘accepted’ our sages taught in masechet Shabbat that this is an indication of re-accepting the obligation of the Torah given at Sinai. ‘Rava said…in the time of Ahashverosh they repeated and accepted it, as it is written ‘they upheld and accepted’ – they upheld what they had previously accepted.’
Thoughts for T’rumah.
“They will make for Me a sacred place/mikdash, and I will dwell among them.”
The Alshich here notes a language anomaly. The Torah says we will build the Mishkan/Tabernacle, v’shachanti b’tocham – and I will dwell among them. Simply, the Torah should have said v’shachanti b’tocho – I will dwell in it.
or, Good Neighbours Build Good Fences
“And these are the laws that you must set before them.”
Rashi here points out that if the Torah had said ‘these’ it would have meant that this section is unrelated to the previous one. Since the Torah says ‘and these’, this section is a continuation of the previous one. Rav Shlomo Aviner points out in Tal Hermon that Yitro and Mishpatim together comprise the giving of Torah at Sinai.
This is a bit curious, and leads us to a famous question.
This week we arrive at arguably the single greatest event in human history – the revelation and giving of the Torah at Sinai. From this point on, all the most important discussion of beliefs and values will have to give at least passing recognition to the ideas and values of the Torah that the Jews are entrusted to bring into the world.