Tzav - Shushan Purim

Posted on March 18th, 2019

Leviticus 6:1−8:36

By Shlomo Katz for Torah.org Joy That Lasts

This Shabbat is a day of transition from the lingering joy of Purim to the season of Pesach. Rashi z”l states (in his commentary to Ta’anit 29a) that the famous expression, “When the month of Adar arrives, we increase our joy,” alludes not only to the joy of Purim, but also to Pesach. Indeed, just as we read in Megillat Esther (8:16), “The Jews had light and sasson / gladness and simcha / joy . . . ,” so we recite in kiddush on the night of Pesach that Hashem has given us the festivals for “simcha and sasson.”

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Vayikra - Shabbat Zachor

Posted on March 11th, 2019

Leviticus 1:1−5:26

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

 

The Call

It was never my ambition or aspiration to be a rabbi. I went to university to study economics. I then switched to philosophy. I also had a fascination with the great British courtroom lawyers, legendary figures like Marshall Hall, Rufus Isaacs and F. E. Smith. To be sure, relatively late, I had studied for the rabbinate, but that was to become literate in my own Jewish heritage, not to pursue a career.

What changed me, professionally and existentially, was my second major yechidut – face-to-face conversation, – with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, in January 1978. To my surprise, he vetoed all my career options: economist, lawyer, academic, even becoming a rabbi in the United States. My task, he said, was to train rabbis. There were too few people in Britain going into the rabbinate and it was my mission to change that.

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Pekudei

Posted on March 4th, 2019
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Exodus 38:21 - 40:38

 

Don’t Sit: Walk

Sitting is the new smoking. So goes the new health mantra. Spend too much time at a desk or in front of a screen and you are at risk of significant danger to your health. The World Health Organisation has identified physical inactivity as the fourth greatest health hazard today, ahead of obesity. In the words of Dr James Levine, one of the world’s leading experts on the subject and the man credited with coining the mantra, says, “We are sitting ourselves to death.”

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Vayakhel - Shabbat Shekalim

Posted on February 25th, 2019
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks


Exodus 35:1–38:20


The Social Animal
 

At the beginning of Vayakhel Moses performs a tikkun, a mending of the past, namely the sin of the Golden Calf. The Torah signals this by using essentially the same word at the beginning of both episodes. It eventually became a key word in Jewish spirituality: k-h-l, “to gather, assemble, congregate.” From it we get the words kahal and kehillah, meaning “community”. Far from being merely an ancient concern, it remains at the heart of our humanity. As we will see, recent scientific research confirms the extraordinary power of communities and social networks to shape our lives.

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Ki Tisa

Posted on February 18th, 2019
Exodus 30:11−34:35

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Anger: Its Uses and Abuses


Comparing two of the most famous events in the Torah, we face what seems like a glaring contradiction. In this week’s parsha, Moses on the mountain is told by God to go down to the people. 
They have made a golden calf. Moses descends, holding in his hands the holiest object of all time, the two tablets carved and inscribed by God Himself.

As he reached the foot of the mountain, he saw the people dancing around the calf. In his anger, he threw down the tablets and broke them to pieces (Ex. 32:19). It was a public display of anger. Yet Moses was not criticised for this act, done entirely of his own accord.[1] Resh Lakish, commenting on the verse in which God commands Moses to carve a new set of tablets to replace the ones “which you broke” (Ex. 34:1), says that God was, in effect, giving His approval to Moses’ deed.[2]     
    
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