Tag Archives: Torah reading

Oz Torah: Insights on parashat Sh’mini.

MASHI’ACH’S S’FIRAT HA’OMER. One of the Lubavitcher Rebbes gave a broad interpretation to the law of counting the Omer, which comes in this week’s reading. Just as one must daily count the Omer and yearn for the coming of Shavu’ot, he said, so should a Jew count and work towards …

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Oz Torah: Torah Reading – parashat Ki Tissa

A LEADER’S RANSOM Counting heads is the subject of the opening section of this week’s portion. The Hebrew literally means “When you take the head of the Children of Israel” – an instruction about taking a census. Look at the word “rosh” (as head) in a different sense and it …

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Oz Torah: Insights on parashat T’rumah

BUILDING AN EDIFICE It is in this sidra that the creation of the sanctuary is instituted. “They shall make Me a Sanctuary that I may dwell among them”, is the crucial verse (Ex. 25:8). The commentators all seize on the word “b’tocham”, “among them”. It is not so much the …

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Oz Torah. Torah reading: Bo

JUMPING THE GUN There is a rabbinic tradition that the tribe of Ephraim were in such a hurry to be free from slavery that they left Egypt thirty years before the appointed time (they had misunderstood a passage in Gen. 15:13 and miscalculated the date of the deliverance). They did …

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Oz Torah: Torah reading – Va’era

WHO WAS MOSES? There is a classical essay by Ahad HaAm which asks the question, “Who essentially was Moses?” Ahad HaAm examines a number of theories, e.g. Moses was a general, Moses was a legislator, Moses was a prophet. Another approach comes in the Torah itself. In Ex. 2:19 he …

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Oz Torah – Torah reading: Sh’mot

THE BURNING BUSH. By the time we reach the adulthood of Moses we see that this was no ordinary human being but a man with a flaring sense of the Divine Presence. Out in the wilderness the Voice spoke to him from a thorn-bush which burnt but was not consumed. …

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Oz Torah: Torah reading – Vayyechi

JACOB LIVED. The patriarch had two names – Jacob and Israel. After his all-night wrestle with the unnamed assailant, the name Jacob was replaced by Israel. Yet with this week’s portion we find “Jacob” back again: “Vay’chi Ya’akov”, “And Jacob lived”. Why does the text come back to the old …

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OzTorah – Torah reading: Vayyiggash

HE SAID THE SHEMA. Rashi tells us, following the rabbinic sages, that when Joseph and his elderly father Jacob finally met again, the pious old man said the Shema (Gen. 46:29). Perhaps it was because his first thought was to thank God that the long-cherished dream of reunion with his …

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OzTorah. Torah reading: Vayyishlach

WHY SHOULD ESAU CARE? Rashi turned a Biblical verse into a rhyme when he quoted Gen. 32:5, “Im Lavan gar’ti” (Jacob’s statement, “I dwelt with Laban”) into “Im Lavan gar’ti v’taryag mitzvot shamar’ti” (“I dwelt with Laban and observed the 613 commandments”). Who was Jacob talking to? His brother Esau. …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Vayyetzei.

A DOUBLE CAMP. At the end of the sidra, Jacob declares that a certain place is to be called “Machanayim” – literally, a double camp (Gen. 32:2). This place was the border post between Israel and the neighbouring land. As Rashi explains, basing himself on earlier rabbinic sources, it was …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Tol’dot.

LABAN THE ARAMEAN. At the beginning of Parashat Ki Tavo (Deut. 26) there is a declaration to be made when an Israelite brings his first fruits to the kohen. The Israelite begins by encapsulating the history of the people until then. He explains why they went to Egypt and how …

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OzTorah: Torah Reading – Chayyei Sarah

SARAH & THE WOMEN It’s all very well to accuse Judaism of being patriarchal, but the fact is that tradition has a matriarchal theme that comes to the fore when parents bless their daughters on Erev Shabbat, saying, “May God make you like Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah”. Sarah heads …

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OzTorah: Torah reading: Vayyera.

                                     TWO LECH-L’CHAS. Last week’s sidra and this week’s both feature God calling to Abraham in the words, “Lech-l’cha!” The literal meaning is “Go for yourself”. In classical English, the message is “Betake yourself”. Rashi points out at the beginning of last week’s reading that the “l’cha” tells Abraham that …

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OzTorah. Torah reading: Shoftim

WASHING OUR HANDS. “I’m fed up. I abdicate. I wash my hands of the matter. I’ve had enough. Don’t talk to me about it again.” A common reaction to a long-standing problem: “You sort it out: leave me alone”. The key phrase is “I wash my hands”.  Psalm 26:6 says, …

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OzTorah. Torah reading: Re’eh

WALKING AFTER GOD At the beginning of Parashat No’ach we are told that No’ach walked with God (Gen. 6:9). Rashi and others point out that where No’ach walked with God, Abraham walked before Him (Gen. 24:40). The sages compare these two early leaders to children who at first need to …

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OzTorah – Torah reading: Va’et’channan.

TIME FOR A SUCCESSOR When God told Moses his days were numbered, the decree was not accepted without protest. The rabbis say that the numerical value of “Va’et’channan” is 515, indicating that Moses uttered this number of pleas to God to allow him to enter the Promised Land. We are …

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OzTorah – Torah reading: D’varim

FORM OR CONTENT? Starting with the opening verses of D’varim, we become the audience for Moses’ series of farewell speeches. Impressive to read, we wonder whether the orations were equally impressive to listen to. After all, Moses was marred by a speech impediment: he was “k’vad peh, k’vad lashon”, “heavy …

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Oz Torah: Torah Reading – Mattot-Mass’ei

A BIG EVENT PASSING US BY. The story of the journeys of the Children of Israel seems prosaic, for example, “They encamped in the wilderness of Sinai” (Num. 33:15). We already know that Sinai was a stopping place. Why remind us? Yet if you slow down you ask the question: …

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OzTorah – Torah reading: Balak

DON’T BE A DONKEY. Some animals just have no luck. Chief amongst them is the donkey. Whilst the Code of Jewish Law says we should start the day like lions, bringing strength and power to the day’s commandments, everyone says, “Don’t be a donkey!” At times we talk about being …

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OzTorah – Torah reading: Chukkat

POWER IN PARADOX. There is something in this week’s portion which is both strange and typical of Judaism. The law of the red heifer (Num. 19:2) requires a mixture of substances to be sprinkled in order to purify the impure. Strangely the process which purifies also does the opposite – …

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