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Rabbi Hillel’s Blog

Parashat Va’Etchanan

  • Posted on July 27, 2018
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        After reading the Ten Commandments, numerous other commandments, and the first paragraph of the Shema in this week’s Torah portion, we read a verse (Deut 6:18), “Do that which is right and good in the eyes of God…” The famous Ramban (Rabbi Moshe ben Nahman a.k.a Nachmanides, 1194-1270) explains in his commentary Continue Reading »

Parashat Dvarim

  • Posted on July 20, 2018
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     This Shabbat is the 9th of Av, Tish B’Av, the anniversary of the destruction of both Temples, the destructions of Jerusalem, and exiles of our ancestors. Our first temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, and our second temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. Tisha B’Av is our Continue Reading »

Parashat Matot- Masei

  • Posted on July 13, 2018
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When the Children of Israel had reached the Eastern bank of the Jordan river and were preparing to cross over and conquer the land, two and a half of the twelve tribes asked to stay behind on the Eastern side. Reuven, Gad, and half of the tribe of Menashe wanted their portion of land to Continue Reading »

Parashat Pinchas

  • Posted on July 6, 2018
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Moses’ Leadership While Moshe is instructing the Israelites about their allotted portions of land, the daughters of Tzelofhad approach him and ask for clarification of their status, being a family of 5 sisters. Moshe hadn’t yet dealt with an all-female sibling set and wasn’t quite sure what to do about it. But he recognized their claim as legitimate, Continue Reading »

Parashat Balak

  • Posted on June 29, 2018
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We read this week of Bilaam’s interaction with his trusty donkey. God “opens the mouth of the donkey” and it speaks to Bilaam, asking him why he mistreated it when it’s been so faithful to him over the years. Bilaam then realizes that the donkey was able to see something hidden from him – an Continue Reading »

A soferet is found

  • Posted on June 15, 2018
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In 2012, while she was living in Gothenburg, Sweden, Rabbi Yonah was contacted by a congregation in Madison, Wisconsin, who was looking for a soferet (scribe) to write for them a brand-new Torah scroll. The Torah was written over the course of two years, and in June 2015 the completed roll of parchment was brought Continue Reading »

Thinking for ourselves

  • Posted on June 8, 2018
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This week we read the story of the spies, sent by Moses to scout out the Land before the Israelites entered to conquer it. They brought back samples of the fruits – a huge cluster of grapes, pomegranates and figs – an image that later became the emblem of the famous Israeli Carmel winery. The Continue Reading »

Miriam

  • Posted on June 1, 2018
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Miriam, Moses’s sister, described in the Torah as a prophet and a leader of Israel, makes a mistake in this week’s Torah portion. She speaks badly about her brother, Moses, and his wife, committing thereby the sin of Lashon Hara, gossip. It seems like such a minor mistake. The Torah itself tells us that what Continue Reading »

Garden for God

  • Posted on May 25, 2018
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Words have power according to Judaism. “Death and life are in the hands of the tongue; those who respect it will eat its fruit.”(Proverbs 18:21) Declarations about our own selves have religious consequence; by declaring one’s self a Nazir, grapes, wine, and all their derivatives become strictly forbidden in the same way that non-Kosher food Continue Reading »

Shavuot is coming

  • Posted on May 16, 2018
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As Shabbat ends this week, Shavuot begins, the day of the giving of the Torah. Shavuot is about appreciating our heritage and traditions, remembering our mutual commitments with God, and celebrating the spark of love between us and the God of our ancestors. In addition to reading the Ten Commandments, the Book of Ruth is Continue Reading »