Torah for This Hour

Torah for This Hour | July 11, 2024

Posted on July 11, 2024

This week marked 9 months since October 7th. Nine months of war. Nine months during which 120 of our brothers and sisters have been held hostage in Gaza. Nine months of deep crisis. The Hebrew word for “crisis” is מַשְׁבֵּר / mashber* and can take on additional meanings. Thus wrote Moshe Ibn Ezra (11th century […]

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Torah for This Hour | July 4, 2024

Posted on July 5, 2024

Numbers Chapter 18 is the main Torah source of the concept of gifts to the Priesthood as understood by the Rabbis. Midrashim offer different explanations: Yalkut Shimoni understands that the Priests received them as reward for Aaron’s efforts to save the Israelites from the sin of the golden calf. Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer understands the gifts […]

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Torah for This Hour | June 27, 2024

Posted on June 27, 2024

In the wilderness of Paran the sin of the spies took place — a transgression so grave that an entire generation was condemned to die in the wilderness. A Talmudic legend (b. Shabbat 89a-b) interprets the several names in the Torah for that wilderness. On the name “the wilderness of Paran” the Talmud explains: “because […]

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Torah for this Hour | June 20, 2024

Posted on June 21, 2024

In Parashat Beha‘alotekha, the seven-branched menorah is lit for the first time. Note the directions: “When you raise up the lamps, toward the front of the lampstand let the seven lamps give light.” Only when we lift up the lamps, which are the receptacles of the light, will “the seven lamps give light.” The menorah […]

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Torah for this Hour | June 13, 2024

Posted on June 16, 2024

This week we celebrate Shavuot and we read Parashat Naso, the weekly reading with the largest number of verses. Despite its considerable length, it teaches us what it means to be “short and to the point” and to practice humility. How so? Parashat Naso includes that threefold benediction, the Priestly Blessing. Why does the blessing […]

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Torah for this Hour | June 6, 2024

Posted on June 6, 2024

Just what was heard on Mt. Sinai? Our tradition offers several answers: that we heard the Ten Commandments in full, that we heard only the first two Commandments, that we heard only the sound of the first letter, the aleph of Anokhi. The late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks wrote that each person heard something different. […]

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Torah for this Hour | May 23, 2024

Posted on May 23, 2024

“The Eternal said to Moses…. ‘None shall defile himself for any [dead] person among his kin’.… You shall not profane My holy name’” (Lev. 21:1, 22:32). The shocking experiences we have undergone and continue to undergo this year contain a double danger. Of the first danger, the physical danger of war, none of us needs […]

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Torah for this Hour | May 16, 2024

Posted on May 16, 2024

Five hundred, twenty five thousand, six hundred minutes. Five hundred, twenty five thousand moments so dear. Five hundred, twenty five thousand, six hundred minutes. How do you measure, measure a year? Those are the opening lyrics of the song I like most from the musical, “Rent.” How do you measure, how do you count, and […]

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Torah for this Hour | May 9, 2024

Posted on May 10, 2024

They who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.” (Ps. 126:5) Somehow that statement lacks of full comprehension of the depth of the pain. Sometimes sorrow simply colors everything, to the point that there is no joy in the outcome. In the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Ta‘anit, the Rabbis explained the verse as referring […]

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Torah for this Hour | May 2, 2024

Posted on May 2, 2024

“The world is in sorrow from Pesaḥ to Shavu’ot because of the crops and the trees. Therefore the Blessed Holy One commanded us to count those days…” (Abudraham). As long as the ripe crops were not harvested there was good reason for concern! Every moment was put to use to get to the end of […]

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