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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Vaetchanan 5781

Looking for Comfort when our Dreams Don’t Come True B”H Rabbi Daniela Szuster At the beginning of this week’s parashah, parashat Vaetchanan, Moses fervently prayed to God that he be granted the privilege of entering the Promised land: “I pleaded with the LORD at that time, saying, “O Lord GOD, You who let Your servant see the first works of Your greatness and Your mighty hand, You whose powerful deeds

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Torah Thoughts on Parashat Devarim 5781

Happiness During Sad Times By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky This Shabbat is a special one, called Shabbat Chazon, literally the Shabbat of the vision. It takes its name from the Haftarah that is read during Shabbat morning services, from the words of rebuke and doom coming from the prophet Isaiah (1:1-27). Shabbat Chazon falls always on the Shabbat immediately prior to the mournful fast of Tisha B’Av, the ninth of the

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Balak 5781

Finding Good in People Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky This week we read parashat Balak. As the Israelites traveled to Canaan, their reputation preceded them, and the Moabites were well aware of the miracles that had accompanied Israel’s exodus from Egypt. Balak, the king of Moab, was scared of the Israelites and hence tried to engage the magician/prophet Balaam for the purpose of cursing them. I think it is interesting to notice

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Chukat 5781

It Heals and Comforts to Sing a Song as a Community B” H Rabbi Daniela Szuster Most of the Tanach, the Hebrew Bible, is written in prose, with the exception of a few passages which are written as songs. For example, we have the Song of the Sea in the book of Exodus (15:1- 16:21), the song of Moses in the book of Deuteronomy (31: 19-22), the song of the

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Shlach Lecha 5781

Spies or Scouts? By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky The parasha for this week, Shlach Lecha, opens with the famous story of the twelve spies, also known as the twelve scouts… Wait a minute! Spies or scouts? It is certainly not the same thing! I will try to explain why we call them both and what the difference is between the two terms. First, let’s review the story. Twelve men, leaders of

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Parashat B’haalotcha 5781

We should not give up; life gives us a second chance! B”H Rabbi Daniela Szuster In this week’s parashah, parashat B’haalotcha, it is written that in the second year after the exodus from the land of Egypt, God reminded the people of Israel about the celebration of Pesach. The Torah tells us that the people of Israel celebrated the festival in the desert on its proper date. However, there was

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Naso 5781

Be Original, Be Yourself! By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky This week we read parashat Naso, which is the longest Torah section. Not surprisingly, this parasha also includes the longest chapter in the Torah, Numbers 7, which includes 89 verses. This long chapter talks about the gifts (or offerings) brought by the heads of each one of the twelve tribes of Israel on the occasion of the inauguration of the Tabernacle. The

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat B’midvar 5781

The Torah has the Power to Transform an Arid and Desolate Place into a Beautiful and Fruitful Garden B”H Rabbi Daniela Szuster This week’s parashah, parashat B’midvar is read on the Shabbat right before the holiday of Shavuot, the holiday which we celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. What connection can there be between “B’midvar,” the desert, and the giving of the Torah? Many commentators, trying to

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Torah Thoughts: Parashot Behar-Bechukotai 5781

“Investing” in Blessings By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky This week we read two parashot, Behar and Bechukotai. With this reading we complete the Book of Leviticus. Parashat Behar starts with the law of the Sabbatical year and ends with a mention of the Shabbat. Indeed, there is a common side to both mitzvot: the observance of the Sabbatical year and the Shabbat cause money loss to the person who observes them!

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Emor 5781

Celebrating our Holidays While Helping People in Need B”H Rabbi Daniela Szuster One of the themes of this week’s parashah, parashat Emor, is the holidays of the Jewish calendar. Chapter twenty-three of Vayikra (Leviticus) describes the different holidays we have around the year. The list of holidays starts with Shabbat, then continues with Passover, the counting of the Omer, Shavuot (although it is not given a name), Rosh Hashanah (again

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Torah Thoughts: Parashot Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 5781

Adding Good Deeds to Ritual By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky This week we read two parashot, Acharei Mot and Kedoshim. In the beginning of the first one we find the ritual of Yom Kippur. Indeed, it is the same reading we read on the morning of Yom Kippur. One of the first instructions for Aaron, the priest, about the Yom Kippur ritual is this, “With this shall Aaron enter the Holy:

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Tazria Metzora 5781

“Who is the person who desires life, loving each day to see good? Then guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.” (Psalm 34: 13-14) B”H Rabbi Daniela Szuster In the two parashot of this week, Tazria and Metzora, are described the details of the disease of leprosy, Tzaraat, and stipulate how the Cohen should proceed according to the kind of illness that the person had. Most

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Shemini 5781

Torah Thoughts on Parashat Shemini and Yom Hashoah 5781 By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky Today, Thursday, Nissan 27th, April 8th, is the official Jewish commemoration of the Holocaust, known as Yom HaShoah V’Hagvurah, meaning Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day. The date was selected in a resolution passed by Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, on April 12, 1951. Although the date was established by the Israeli government, it has become a day commemorated

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Torah Thoughts: Shabbat – Seventh Day of Pesach 5781

We Should Not Rejoice When a Human Being Falls B”H Rabbi Daniela Szuster The service of Hallel consists of six Psalms (113-118), which are recited as a unit on different Jewish festivals, immediately following the Shacharit Amidah. These occasions include the three major festivals, Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot, and the minor festival, Chanukah, and Rosh Chodesh. Besides this, it is a new custom to recite it for modern celebrations as Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Y’rushalayim.

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Torah Thoughts on Bedikat Chametz 5781

Torah Thoughts on Bedikat Chametz 5781 By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky Traditionally, the formal search for chametz (leaven), bedikat chametz, is conducted on the night before Pesach. This year, since Pesach starts on Saturday night, we search for chametz on Thursday evening, the day you are probably reading these lines. That is why I would like to say (or write!) a word about the symbolism of the chametz. First things first:

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Vayikra 5781

Drawing Closer to God and to our People: The Advantages we have in our Time compared with those of our Ancestors B”H Rabbi Daniela Szuster This week, we are starting to read the third book of the Torah, the book of Vayikra, Leviticus. In this week’s parashah, you can find the rules and procedures for the different types of korbanot, offerings or sacrifices, that were brought to the Mishkan (tabernacle).

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Terumah 5781

Parashat Terumah 5781
B¨H

Rabbi Daniela Szuster

“Creation of the World and the Building of the Miskan (Tabernacle)”

This week´s parashah begins with God´s order to collect donations in order to build the Mishkan and then we have all the instructions Moses received on how to build it. Some sages found that there are many similarities, common action verbs and expressions between the description of the building of the Mishkan and the story of the creation of the world. There are so many similarities that many sages believe it couldn’t be a coincidence. I would like to share with you those similarities through the following table and then, highlight the underlying message this comparison will reveal.

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Mishpatim 5781

Torah Thoughts: Parashat Mishpatim 5781

Be a Mensch!

Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky

This week we read parashat Mishpatim (literally, laws or rules). The vast majority of the Torah text that comes before this parasha is a continuum of stories about the origins of the people Israel. This includes the stories of the patriarchs and matriarchs and the exodus from Egypt. However, in parashat Mishpatim we are presented with a long list of laws, most of them civil ones.

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Yitro 5781

Torah Thoughts: Parashat Yitro 5781
The Meaning of the Structure of the Ten Commandments
B”H
Rabbi Daniela Szuster
One of the main topics of this week’s parashah is the revelation at Mount Sinai. This historic event is one of the most significant in Jewish history because it was when God gave the Torah to the people of Israel. At this event, the entire nation experienced a singular revelation and took upon itself to obey the commandments of God when they said “Na’aseh ve’nishma,” “We will do, and we will hear.”

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Beshalach 5781

Torah Thoughts on Parashat Beshalach 5781

Freedom

Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky

This week we read parashat Beshalach. The first verse of this parasha reads, “Now when Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although it was nearer; for God said, “The people may have a change of heart when they see war and return to Egypt” (Exodus 13:17).

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