This week's services:     Friday evening @ 6:30PM  -  Saturday morning @ 9:30AM

Friday night services will be held at the home of the Rabbi.  The address is 1506 Victoria Avenue.  Enter via the door nearest the driveway.

This week's parsha

Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the website.  We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given.  For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website.  If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the website.

A Humble Letter

In the hebrew text of the Torah scroll, thousands of years of tradition dictate how each letter is to be written.  Certain words, such as the first word of this week's Parshah, are exceptional in some way.

The opening phrase is "And G-d called to Moses."  This is the beginning of the third Book of the Torah, Vayikra (Leviticus).  Unlike the preceding book which is mainly narrative, telling the story of the Exodus, this book mainly comprises direct instruction from G-d.  So it begins "And G-d called to Moses."  G-d called to Moses from the Sanctuary, to teach him the laws which he would transmit to the Jewish people.
The first word in this phrase ends with a letter Aleph.  What is unusual is the fact that this Aleph is very small compared with the size of the other letters.  The scribe has to write very carefully a tiny Aleph.  This has been a feature of every Torah scroll since the first one, written by Moses.  What does the small Aleph signify?

Read more: A Humble Letter

Emerging from the Torah

The most precious possession of the Jewish people is the sacred Torah, expressed as the Torah Scroll in the Synagogue, the essence of the Written Torah, and the many volumes of printed books of the Oral Torah.  On a more basic level, the Torah was embodied as the two Tablets of Stone, actually sapphire, which Moses brought down from Mount Sinai and which were kept in a Golden Ark in the Temple.

The drama of the way the first set of these Tablets was smashed by Moses when he saw the orgy around the Golden Calf was described in last week's Torah reading Ki Tisa.  It continued with the lengthy process of Moses pleading with G-d on behalf of the Jewish people and, at last, the moment of forgiveness.  On that day Moses came down the mountain carrying the second set of Tablets which were to be housed in the Golden Ark.

Read more: Emerging from the Torah

The Phenomenon of the "Half"

This week's Torah reading deals with the command to every Jew to contribute half a shekel towards the building of the Mishkan -- the sanctuary in the desert.

Our Sages tell us that when Moses received the Divine command to levy a tax of a half-shekel on each adult male, he was puzzled; the half-shekel was to be an atonement for the sin of worshipping the Golden Calf.  "How can the mere giving of a coin be an atonement for a sin?" thought Moses.

A question at once arises:  A number of laws concerning sacrifices and offerings to be brought by the individual as atonement for his sins had already been taught by G-d to Moses.  Yet Moses had never previously wondered how a mere offering could provide forgiveness for a sin.  Why, then, was Moses suddenly perplexed when told of the half-shekel tax?

Read more: The Phenomenon of the "Half"

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