Parsha Tzav: Being Ego Free

This week is the first week of spring. And that means Pesach (Passover) is almost here. One of the interesting things about Pesach is that we are not allowed to have any leavening in our possession. Leavening is the result of fermented grain and is what makes bread rise. When I was in the orthodox world of Jerusalem, I heard that chometz (leavening) is symbolic of the ego. After all, aren’t both really just hot air? The idea is that … Continue reading

Parsha Vayikra: Being a Small Aleph

This week we start reading the third book of the Torah. It is called Vayikra in Hebrew, or Leviticus in English.   The book deals a lot with the laws of the priesthood, the ins and outs of the sacrifices, and matters of purity. This leads us to ask: What is the connection between these 3? The answer starts with purity and the question of sin.   I am defining sin as doing something other than what haShem (god) wants us to … Continue reading

Parsha (double) Vayakhail-P’kudi: Torah on Completion and Moving On

Today is the first day of the first month of the year. Yeah, I know Rosh Hashanah is the new year, but I am just telling you what it said in one of the two parshas that we read this week. For those who don’t know, the Jewish calender is a lunar calender. In order to keep the month of spring in the springtime, an extra month getss added 7 times every 19 years. Every week, a portion of the … Continue reading

What I Received from Purim

This year I had a quiet Purim.  The last 3 or 4 years I have thrown seudas (Jewish parties celebrate a success and are centered around a meal).  This year I just invited a few close friends and sat around a fire in my backyard. At first something felt wrong and I realized it was because I wasn’t in costume.  So, I put my costume on and as I sipped some whiskey I truly felt the spirit of Purim.  I … Continue reading

Parsha Key Tisa: Untranslating Torah

The parsha (Torah portion) that we read this shabbat is called Key Tisa which means, “When you lift/raise.” Now that we have finished the parsha that Moshe is not mentioned (click here for an explanation), the Torah immediately says that haShem (god) is talking to Moshe (Moses).   HaShem is telling Moshe that when he raises up the heads of the children of Yisrael to count them, that person needs to give an atonement for his soul so that a plague … Continue reading