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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.

And Aaron Was Silent

In the course of life sometimes startling and shocking events take place.  Some might be close at hand, affecting people we know.  Yet we learn how to respond to such tragedies from our sacred Torah, which tells of events happening thousands of years ago, and of responses which are eternally relevant.

In this week's Torah reading (Leviticus chapters 9-11) a very unexpected and tragic event is described.  At the moment of the final consecration of the Sanctuary, two of Aaron's sons were killed.  Without consulting Moses, they let themselves be overcome by their enthusiasm and had come too close to the infinite power of the Divine which was revealed in the Holy of Holies.  In effect, they died as a result of their own unbridled ecstasy.

Read more: And Aaron Was Silent

The Good, the Evil and Transforming the Bad

The approaching festival of Passover makes us confront issues concerning good battling against evil, escape from enslavement by enemies, the triumph of light over darkness.  There are such battles on a national level, and they also exist within a person in the form of the struggle of the Good Desire against the Evil Desire, and escape from the enslavement to inner narcissism and negativity.

Jewish teaching recognizes that very often we are engaged in such conflicts in order that we should survive.  The battle is often not only on our own behalf as Jews, but a battle for civilization as a whole, for the universal ideal of belief in G-d and the ethical behavior which should result from that belief.  When the Bible condemns the idolatry of the ancient Canaanites it condemns their depravity:  "for also their sons and daughters they burn in fire" (Deuteronomy 12:31).

Read more: The Good, the Evil and Transforming the Bad

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

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Kiddush Club

Date: Feb 16 '19
Sponsor: Regina Novak
In honour of my husband Morris Novak (AH) yahrzeit

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