The Blessing of Happiness

The Blessing of Happiness

May 30, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Naso

One of the centerpieces of Parashat Naso is the Priestly Blessing.

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Finding Direction to Move Forward with God

Finding Direction to Move Forward with God

May 23, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Bemidbar

This Shabbat opens the fourth book of Torah known as Sefer Bemidbar, the book of Numbers.

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Between Heaven and Earth

Between Heaven and Earth

May 16, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Behukkotai

Fertility of humans and of the land is the essence of divine blessing.

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Shemitah, Freedom, and Covenant in the Face of Assimilation

Shemitah, Freedom, and Covenant in the Face of Assimilation

May 9, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Behar

Parashat Behar opens with the commandment to observe the sabbatical cycle (for six years, one may plant crops and work the land and then, in the seventh year, the land must rest—what is known in halakhic terms as shenat shemitah, “the year of release”); shemitah or “release” is observed today in the Land of Israel.

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Pride, Power, and Corruption in the Name of God

Pride, Power, and Corruption in the Name of God

May 2, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Emor

In the wake of religious fundamentalism that plagues our world today, why aren’t religious leaders vocal in their opposition to bloodshed and corruption in the name of God?

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The Kosher Golden Rule

The Kosher Golden Rule

Apr 25, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Kedoshim

Two great questions are often asked in our community: What is our obligation to our fellow Jews?

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The Meaning of the Shmurah Matzah

The Meaning of the Shmurah Matzah

Apr 18, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Pesah

One of the centerpieces of seder night is the eating of matzah, the unleavened bread.

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Sacrifice and Humility

Sacrifice and Humility

Apr 11, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Aharei Mot

The Torah reading opens with God speaking to Moses in the aftermath of the death of Aaron’s two sons, Nadav and Avihu, who “drew too close to the presence of the Lord” (Lev. 16:1). But most immediately, as is the case in the aftermath of any trauma, we want to learn how to avoid another tragic “accident.”

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Boundaries: Not Only Healthy, but Divine

Boundaries: Not Only Healthy, but Divine

Apr 3, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Metzora

Boundaries are the focal point of Parashat Metzora, and indeed they are the obsession of the book of Leviticus.

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Parashat Tazria and Circumcision

Parashat Tazria and Circumcision

Mar 26, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Tazria

Parashat Tazria, at the heart of the book of Leviticus, presents a challenge of almost epic proportions in the search for modern, practical relevance.

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Silence and Loss

Silence and Loss

Mar 18, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Shemini

One of the most enigmatic and painful moments of all of Tanakh occurs in Parashat Shemini.

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The Fire Within

The Fire Within

Mar 11, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Tzav

Parashat Tzav discusses the role of the priests in the Temple, and emphasizes the vigilance with which they were to offer sacrifices.

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The Power of Partnership and Positive Thinking

The Power of Partnership and Positive Thinking

Feb 26, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Pekudei

The raising of the Tabernacle was a daunting task for the Israelites.

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Wisdom of the Heart

Wisdom of the Heart

Feb 19, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Vayak-hel

In many ways, Parashat Vayak-hel repeats the instruction of previous parashiyot.

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Moses As Prophetic Psychologist

Moses As Prophetic Psychologist

Feb 12, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Ki Tissa

The notorious centerpiece of Parashat Ki Tissa is the episode of the Golden Calf.

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The Eternal Light of Torah

The Eternal Light of Torah

Feb 5, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Tetzavveh

At the beginning of Parashat Tetzavveh, Moses is commanded to instruct the Israelites:

bring clear oil of beaten olives for lighting, for kindling lamps regularly. Aaron and his sons will set them up in the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain which is over the Ark, to burn from evening to morning before the Lord. It will be a statute for the Israelites throughout all time, throughout the ages” (Exod. 27:20–21).

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The Tabernacle: Divinity and Practicality

The Tabernacle: Divinity and Practicality

Jan 29, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Terumah

Parashat Terumah opens dramatically with a building campaign.

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Building Bridges

Building Bridges

Jan 22, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Mishpatim

After legislating the multiplicity of laws in what has become known as Sefer Ha-Brit, the “Book of the Covenant,” Parashat Mishpatim concludes on a pessimistic note—a warning to the Israelites.

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A Lesson in Interreligious Dialogue

A Lesson in Interreligious Dialogue

Jan 15, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Yitro

If one were asked to identify the most central parashah to Israelite identity and to Judaism, one would certainly point to Parashat Yitro, which describes the moment of revelation at Sinai.

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Determination and Redemption

Determination and Redemption

Jan 8, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Beshallah

Parashat Beshallah witnesses triumphant redemption.

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