Alone and Together – Emor 5783

“You shall take choice flour and bake of it twelve loaves, two-tenths of a measure for each loaf. Place them on the pure table before God in two rows, six to a row” (Leviticus 24:5-6).  While the instructions are clear, the purpose is unstated. Though the Talmud...

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Avoiding Yohara – Tzav 5783

The challenge in reading the detailed descriptions of the rituals regarding sacrifices is to find within them some meaningful insights that transcend the rituals that are no longer practiced. Those who succeed find the exercise rewarding. Those who fail, tend to...

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Still Relevant – VaYikra83

Professor Jacob Milgrom offers a surprising explanation of the purpose of the book of Leviticus. While the text centers mostly on priestly laws, the subtext is the eradication of pagan religion (Leviticus, p. 8ff). The basic premises of pagan religion, Milgrom writes,...

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Noise – Bekhukotai 5782

In their book Noise, authors Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein describe how the universal passion for judicial discretion fell out of favor in the 1970’s. For many years the popular idea was that maximizing judicial discretion allowed judges to...

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Rituals and Feelings – Emor 5782

The sacral calendar in chapter 23 of the Book of Leviticus includes mention of what is subsequently called Yom Kippur. It is intended to be a day of “affliction” as well as a day of cessation from labor (Lev. 23:27-28). But what, exactly, constitutes “affliction” goes...

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Words to Live By

What lies behind you and what lies ahead of you pales in comparison to what lies inside you.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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