Nearing The End

Wow! We are about to complete the yearly cycle of reading the entire Five Books of Moses, The Torah, with only 2 more parshiot (portions) until we get to the very end of the scroll. But between now and the very last verses of the Torah, there are a bunch of holidays — Rosh HaShanah […]

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Coming In… and the Planet?

Last week, we were “going out” (“Ki Tetzei“) and this week, we are “coming in.” In the first words of this week’s parasha, Ki Tavo (“When You come In [to the land of Israel]”), we find Moses/Moshe continuing his long valedictory address to the people. He wants to cover all bases, since he isn’t coming […]

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Something Doesn’t Make Sense…

As the storyteller (and others) point out, this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tetzei (“When You Go Out”), has more commandments (mitzvot) than any other parasha in the entire Five Books of Moses. We are smack dab in the middle of the book of D’varim (Deuteronomy), the last discourse of Moshe/Moses as he prepares the Children […]

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See the Blessings (and Curse)

To think about as you read: When do you clearly see and acknowledge the blessings in your life? What do you think it means to be cursed? What tempts you away from doing the right thing? “Re’eh” — “See”! The Torah portion this week opens with this command by the God of Israel to “see” […]

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Vulnerability of the Heart and Land

The name of this week’s parasha, Ekev, is kind of a hard word to translate precisely into English. Here are 3 renditions of the first phrase (Deuteronomy 7 verse 12): “And if you do obey these rules and observe them carefully…” (Jewish Publication Society) “And it shall come about in consequence of your heeding these […]

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Crossing Over To The Other Side

The parasha this week, Va’etchanan (“And He Pleaded”), refers to how Moshe/Moses pleaded with God to cross over into the Promised Land, along with the People of Israel. Interesting how when we look back on incidents in our lives, and we re-tell the story of what happened, some of the more difficult facts have a […]

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Deuteronomy, Here We Come!

This week we begin the 5th of the Five Books of Moses: Devarim, which literally translates to “The Words” even though we usually hear “Deuteronomy” as the English (Greek! more on this later below) name. Some like to say, “These Are The Words,” because the entire book amounts to a very long exhortation by Moshe/Moses […]

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The End of the Wilderness

As you read and watch, some ideas to consider… How do you reconcile difficult passages in Torah with your concepts of moral behavior? What do you think about creating physical spaces to protect those who have committed some awful wrong (like manslaughter)? What should those spaces be like? What would a contemporary city of refuge […]

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Wise Women, Leadership, and Zealotry

As you read about and watch this week’s Torah portion, some ideas to consider: Is zealotry ever warranted? Why and why not? What do Zelophechad’s five daughters have to teach you about speaking truth to power? What do you think of Moshe’s reaction to being told he is going to die without going into Israel? […]

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A Prophet and His Talking Donkey

The Torah parasha this week is named after a non-Israelite king, Balak, who decides that the Israelite tribes are a threat to his people, the Moabites. So King Balak hires Balaam ben Be’or, a soothsayer and prophet, to go and deliver a curse on the Israelites (Numbers 22: 5-7). Balaam accepts the gig; he and […]

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