Parshat Vayikra: Symbolic Acts of Freedom

Parshat Vayikra: Symbolic Acts of Freedom

One of the recurring themes I have conveyed to students over the years is the power of symbolism. Symbolic acts may not often effect universal change, but they do help us make statements about who we are and for what we stand. Take Passover for example. The Seder was never intended to focus on our

Shabbat Parah and Accountability

Shabbat Parah and Accountability

In the Shabbat Torah and Haftorah readings this week, there are two themes which stand out in my mind. In the portion of Pekuday (the second portion in a combined Torah reading this week) we learn about accountability. Moses takes complete inventory of every item donated for the new desert Tabernacle. He records every piece

Parshat Ki Tissa: Devastation vs. Celebration

Parshat Ki Tissa: Devastation vs. Celebration

This is a great time of year for a sports enthusiast. First of all, baseball spring training has begun. Basketball and hockey are beginning their most intense stage of the regular season. Football conversation abounds with all the hoopla concerning where college players will be drafted by the National Football League. Although many of us...

Parshat Tetzaveh: Being a Kingdom of Priests

Parshat Tetzaveh: Being a Kingdom of Priests

The Torah portion of Tetzaveh may appeal to fashion designers and to anyone obsessed with details about professional uniforms. To the rest of us, Tetzaveh seems quite remote. We learn about the vestments worn by the Priests, when fulfilling their professional duties. The vestments are explained with great care; as if most of us are

Parshat Terumah: Forging A Holy Place

Parshat Terumah: Forging A Holy Place

Writing this commentary, I experimented with a different template and layout for the email version. My previous template was pretty basic; this one requires more navigation through different designs and layouts. It also requires some deviation and experimentation, meaning that it will take a little more time for trial and error. Only when...

Parshat Mishpatim: Denial and Admission

Parshat Mishpatim: Denial and Admission

There are valid reasons for repeating the weekly Torah portions annually.  With each passing year we are different people; we are influenced by evolving experiences and conditions in life. Occasionally, world events also inspire us to read Torah portions from a fresh perspective. Such is the case with my interpretation of a narrative in...