We Jews, who have been perennial outcasts, ought to read the Torah’s account of the leper with particular care.
Throughout history, lepers have been demonized and feared, quarantined, and often even physically sent out of society, to go and live in leper colonies. It’s hard to fathom a more extreme version of the outcast. Surely, then, there is something in the leper’s story that we need to know.
Seven days after we left Egypt, we reached the Red Sea.
That was the day our enemies died. And, to be honest, we were happy about it.
Any fan of midrash has got to love ‘The Four Children.’
It’s time to get dressed.
We’ve been talking about the Tabernacle and the offerings for weeks now. The big inauguration ceremony is just around the corner, in next week’s parsha. We have just finished detailing the various sacrifices that will be offered. Now that everything is in place, it’s time to get the priests ready for work.
There is a curious passage in the Talmud (in Chullin 139b) that asks:
Where can we find Haman in the Torah?
Wandering through the library of Jewish legal texts, the careful observer may take notice of a curious trend. For reasons unclear, many of the classic books of Jewish law take their titles from - of all things – the various pieces of the High Priest’s clothing.
Described in great detail in this week’s parsha, the priestly garments consist of: a bejeweled breastplate, a sleeveless garment called the ‘ephod,’ a robe, a turban, a golden crown, a tunic, and a sash - all highly ornamented. The High Priest oversaw the elaborate system of Temple sacrifices meant to draw down the presence of the Lord, and atone for the sins of Israel. His job was supremely important, and so his uniform is given very careful treatment by the Torah. But it isn’t clear what this intricate dress code particularly has to do with Law.
It all started with dolphins.
I’m reading this week’s parsha, Terumah, which - let’s be honest - might be the least exciting read in the whole Torah. I mean, on the one hand, it’s all about building a structure for God to dwell on earth - an awesome undertaking. But on the other hand, it reads a bit like an IKEA furniture assembly instruction manual. For example:
The most famous of the all the Torah commentators, in his very first piece of commentary on the Torah, seems to suggest that the whole book of Genesis is a waste of time.
For, says the great Rashi:
What was it like?
This week’s parsha contains what is arguably the single most important moment in the Torah: The Revelation at Mount Sinai. You might say that the whole of the Jewish religion is based on this event. And the content of that revelation is perhaps the most famous part of the Torah, and the most enduring legacy of Judaism: The Ten Commandments.