Shabbat Tetzaveh: For Want of a Tent Peg

Our parashat hashavua is Tetzaveh, from the same root as mitzvah, that is, obligation. The parashah’s name is generic: every week we are presented with mitzvot, which we are to carry out. No matter what the occasion or occurrence, there’s always a mitzvah to fulfill; this is the framework that structures Jewish life.  The mitzvotContinue reading “Shabbat Tetzaveh: For Want of a Tent Peg”

Shabbat Pekudey, Adar II Begins: Don’t Burn the Day

These days, being happy is not easy. Reasons to be sad, to be worried, or to be outraged are easy to find – and late winter’s gloomy chill doesn’t do much to lighten the mood. Even as I have heard some say that Tisha B’Av is impossible in Portland Oregon because the weather is soContinue reading “Shabbat Pekudey, Adar II Begins: Don’t Burn the Day”

Shabbat Terumah: The Gift of Your Life

What are you supposed to be doing with your one, wild, precious life? After all, it will all end, and too soon. The parashat hashavua this week is Terumah, “gift”, a word that speaks of a free-will offering that comes from the heart, chosen by the giver out of the joy of the chance toContinue reading “Shabbat Terumah: The Gift of Your Life”

Shabbat Pekudey: Get Over Yourself and Go Learn

Our parashat hashavua this week, Pekudey, could be known as “the Accountants’ Parashah”. Pekudey means “records”, and our text begins with  אֵלֶּה פְקוּדֵי הַמִּשְׁכָּן מִשְׁכַּן הָעֵדֻת, אֲשֶׁר פֻּקַּד עַל-פִּי מֹשֶׁה:  עֲבֹדַת, הַלְוִיִּם, בְּיַד אִיתָמָר, בֶּן-אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן These are the accounts of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the Testimony, as they were rendered under Moses’s supervision: the work done by the Levites, under Itamar, son of AaronContinue reading “Shabbat Pekudey: Get Over Yourself and Go Learn”

Shabbat Ki Tisa: You, Too, Belong to Shabbat

This parashat hashavua is famous for a terrible breach in the relationship between G-d and the People Israel. That golden calf tends to overshadow the rest of the parashah even for those of us on the Triennial Cycle, who only read that specific passage once in three years! This year we read the first thirdContinue reading “Shabbat Ki Tisa: You, Too, Belong to Shabbat”

Shabbat Terumah: In The Details

“This too is Torah, and I need to learn it.” Two millennia ago the renowned sage Rabbi Akiba asserted that Torah is not only that which is written on the parchment of the sefer Torah, the Scroll of Direction (the Hebrew verb root h.r.h means “teaching”, and also “aiming” as well as “indicating direction”). TorahContinue reading “Shabbat Terumah: In The Details”