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To Hashem - Parashat Tzav 5779 - March 22, 2019

Our parasha, Parashat Tzav, continues from the description opened in last week’s parasha of the various offerings that were offered in the Tabernacle and in the Beit HaMikdash – the Temple in Yerushalayim.

One unique phrase is repeated time and again – le’Hashem – to Hashem: “a memorial offering to Hashem”, “that they will offer to Hashem”, “a pleasant odor to Hashem”, to name a few.

“To Hashem” is an ambiguous phrase. Does “to Hashem” convey the possessive case – as in G-d’s memorial offering? Alternatively, does “to Hashem” indicate the intended recipient – a memorial offering to G-d? Perhaps, “to Hashem” means something else. What is the meaning of the phrase “to Hashem”'? What does it add?

One example of a use of the phrase, “to Hashem”, is in the Passover offering that was celebrated in Egypt and is mentioned in the Seder. In Parashat Bo, the Torah says, “And thus you will eat it (the Pascal sacrifice): with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet and your staff in your ha…

Humility - Parashat Vayikra 5779 - March 16, 2019

This week, we begin reading Sefer Vayikra and its first parasha, Parashat VaYikra. The parasha discusses many of the laws of specific korbanot – sacrifices – including the olah, shlamim chatat and others.
The parasha opens with the following verse: “And He called to Moshe and Hashem spoke to him from the tent of meeting saying …”
Our mesorah – oral tradition – teaches that the word, -ויקרא” “ and He called – is to be written in the Torah scroll with a peculiarity. The last letter in that word – the letter aleph – is to be written in a significantly smaller font. Our commentators have a number of different explanations and interpretations of this requirement.
One explanation is given by the Kli Yakar, Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim Luntschitz. He explains that the letter aleph is associated with learning and education. The letter aleph is the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet – the basis of learning. The root of the word

Betzalel - Parashat Pekudei 5779 - March 8, 2019

Parashat Terumah, which we read a few weeks ago, is the first in a five-parasha series all about the mishkan, including the structure, the holy vessels, the garments, the commandments and construction and even the capital campaign. Parashat Terumah describes the detailed instructions that Hashem gave to Moshe regarding the construction of the mishkan – the Tabernacle – and its kelim – the vessels, including the aron, the ark, which contained the luchot, the shulchan, the table which held the shewbread, the menorah, the candelabra, and the mizbach hanechoshet, the altar for offering sacrifices. Betzalel was charged with overseeing the construction of the mishkan and its vessels. The final installment of this series – Parashat Pekude – which we read this Shabbat – opens with the statement, “And Betzalel the son of Uri the son of Chur of the tribe of Yehudah did everything that Hashem commanded Moshe.” Rashi, is bothered by the phrasing of this verse. Quoting the Talmud Yerushalmi, Rashi…

The Individual and the Community - Parashat Vayakhel 5779 - March 1, 2019

This Shabbat we read the first of four special parshiyot that are read over the next five weeks – Parashat Shekalim.
Parashat Shekalim describes the one-half shekel contribution that each member of b’nei yisrael was commanded to give to the operation of the mishkan. For the purposes of this contribution, individuals were not permitted to contribute more or less – irrelevant of their financial capability or desire. Each member of b’nei yisrael gave exactly one-half shekel. By taking the sum of the total contribution and dividing by two, this half-shekel was used to calculate the population of b’nei yisrael – it served as the mechanism of conducting a census.
The Torah warns that the consequence of transgressing this method of census is a plague – a negef – on b’nei yisrael. Our commentators struggle to explain the reason for this drastic consequence. The medieval scholar and author of Akedat Yitzchak, Rabbi Yitzchak Arama, suggests that there is a danger in conducting a census. Counting …