Shabbat HaChodesh - Vayak’heil/P’kudei

Posted on March 20th, 2017

EXODUS 35:1–40:38 

BY MATTHEW BERKOWITZ, Jewish Theological Seminary


Of Leadership and Investment: A People Engage


Parashat Va-yak·hel-Pekudei continues the building of the Tabernacle—detailing the materials, craftsmanship, appurtenances, and its completion. Far from being the domain of the elite, the building of this dwelling place for God represents an endeavor undertaken by the entire people. We read that

Moses then gathered the whole Israelite community and said to them: These are the things that the Lord has commanded you to do. On six days work may be done, but on the seventh you will have a Sabbath of complete rest . . . Moses said further: This is what the Lord has commanded: Take from among you gifts to the Lord; everyone whose heart so moves him will bring them . . . gold, silver, and copper, blue, purple and crimson yarns. (Exod. 35:1–4)
Why turn to the “whole Israelite community,” and not simply a cabal of leaders, contractors, and artisans to realize this vision? Such a strategy would have been far easier for Moses, limiting the scope of participation to the elites of the community.
 
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Shabbat Parah - Ki Tissa

Posted on March 13th, 2017

Exodus 30:11−34:35 and Numbers 19:1 - 19:22 


By Rabbi Bradley Artson, The following article is reprinted with permission from American Jewish University, for MyJewishLearning.com


Tzedakah And Jewish Education

 

Our communal responsibility to ensure the immortality of the Jewish people depends on our commitment to supporting Jewish education.


Jewish education forms the backbone of our communities. We assure the community of vitality and endurance through the Hebrew studies of our children, the outreach programs for those considering conversion, and the continuing education programs for other seeking adults. And those programs need our support.

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Shabbat Zachor - Tetzaveh

Posted on March 5th, 2017

Exodus 27:20-30:10 


BY EITAN FISHBANE, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF JEWISH THOUGHT; Jewish Theological Seminary


Written on the Heart


The mitzvot are a path of spiritual practice, a cultivation of religious awareness that may open us to the mystery and urgency of the divine voice. Not only legal obligation, mitzvah is a moment of encounter with the ever-renewing Divine Presence as it reverberates through the generations of the Jewish people.

As the hasidic mystics have taught, every person is a living Torah, an embodiment of the word and light of God. According to ancient rabbinic midrash, it was through the Torah that God created the world, and later mystics adapted this idea to suggest that the Torah is the very energy and life-force of Divinity as it fills the world and the human self. Each person is imbued with the divine spirit of Torah; the words that we speak and the actions we undertake are all manifestations of Torah, mitzvot in motion.

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Terumah

Posted on February 26th, 2017

Exodus 25:1 - 27:19 96 


By Rabbi Ismar Schorsch. Reprinted with permission of the Jewish Theological Seminary for MyJewishLearning.com


Creating Sacred Space



This week’s parashah and haftarah [reading from the Prophets] are an exercise in counterpoint. Superficially, the construction of sacred space joins them in a common theme. While the Torah portion takes up the erection of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, the narrative from the book of Kings recounts the building by Solomon of the First Temple in Jerusalem some 480 years later.

The move is from a mobile sanctuary to a permanent one, from wood to stone. Still, the basic design remains the same, an oblong structure with the Holy of Holies (devir) at the rear, farthest away from the entrance. Likewise, the content of the Holy of Holies is unaltered: an ark covered by two large cherubim with outstretched wings. The ark itself contained only the two tablets which attested to the covenant between God and Israel sealed at Mount Sinai.
 

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Shabbat Shekalim - Mishpatim

Posted on February 19th, 2017

Exodus 21:1−24:18 


Rabbi Mordechai (Mitchell) Silverstein, senior lecturer in  Talmud and Midrash at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem.


Haftarah Commentary: 2 Kings 12:1-17


Shabbat Shekalim is the first of four special Shabbatot which precede Pesah. In the Maftir Torah reading, we read a reminder of the half-shekel tax incumbent on every Jew as a means of support for the Temple, the sacred center of Jewish worship. In the haftarah, we read of an episode involving this tax during the rule of King Jehoash. Jehoash is described as a good king, but with a single flaw: “All his days Jehoash did what was pleasing to the Lord, as the priest Jehoiada instructed him. The shrines, however, were not removed; the people continued to sacrifice and offer at the shrines (bamot).” (12:3-4)  

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