Parsha

Tazria-Metzora: Mostly Tzara’at

by R. Gidon Rothstein Although it is a double portion, Tazri’a/Metzora does us the favor of focusing much of its attention on one topic, tzara’at. We learn bodily tzara’at, commonly but incorrectly translated as leprosy, clothing tzara’at, and house tzara’at. The Spiritual Roots of Tzar’at The Torah signals tzara’at’s spiritual/metaphysical nature—as opposed to being a primarily physical matter– in many ways. Ramban notes chapter thirteen of Vayikra opens with Gd ...

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Gd and People in Parshat Shemini

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Shemini gave Onkelos, Rashi, and Ramban opportunities to show us a world where Gd plays a clear role while leaving room for human beings to contribute meaningfully as well. Onkelos a Kabbalist? As the Jews are dedicating the Mishkan, Moshe tells them what Gd said to do to have kevod Hashem (loosely, the Honor or Glory of Gd) ...

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Tzav: The Way to Understand Torah, for Sacrifices and Kohanim

by R. Gidon Rothstein Tzav is a portion most obviously about how various sacrifices work. In the comments I tracked from the parsha, I also noticed Onkelos, Rashi, and Ramban telling us about how to understand the Torah as well as about the kohanim themselves, aside from their performance of the service. The Nature of Literal A couple of times, Onkelos made a comment ...

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Vayikra: Learning the New Language of Sacrifices

by R. Gidon Rothstein Vayikra is also known as Torat Kohanim because much of it discusses the service of the Mishkan (to be transferred eventually to the Beit Ha-Mikdash, as we will see), performed by the descendants of Aharon. For all that we are always told sacrifice was common in those days, our commentators give us reason to see the Jews would have needed an education ...

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Vayakhel-Pekudei: Reaching Greater Heights

by R. Gidon Rothstein I don’t always make it clear, but this year’s parsha notes are a collation of ideas I shared in previous years of studying Rashi, Ramban, and then Onkelos. I’m putting together those three years’ worth, seeing if they cohere. After Sukkot next year, Gd willing, we’ll be able to see what each of the books of the Torah and the ...

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Tetzaveh: Lessons Learned from the Kohanim

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Tetzaveh focuses on the kohanim, their garments and how they were to be readied for their new roles. Along the way, we learn about how the Torah sees us them and us, non-kohanim, functioning in a society that follows the Torah. Completeness, Readiness, or Just Qualifying for the Job Onkelos more than once translates the Torah’s use ...

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Terumah: Preparing For a Mishkan, What and Why

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Terumah opens with Gd’s call to the Jewish people to gather materials for a Mishkan, a “home” for Gd’s Presence. Moshe is told to take collections from the people, of money and materials, and how to put those together, yielding the structure. What Was Collected Voluntarily The Torah speaks of those materials as coming from everyone asher yidvenu ...

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Mishpatim: Gd, and Human Relationships

by R. Gidon Rothstein The name and content of Mishpatim alert us to this portion’s focus on laws. At the same time, Rashi in particular and Onkelos to a lesser extent, remind us of Gd’s role even in the realm of human justice. We will see a few of those comments, then some on how the human realm of law would work ...

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Yitro: Gd Really at the Center

by R. Gidon Rothstein The Revelation at Sinai sits central to Yitro, and the first of the Dibberot Gd reveals declares the fact of Gd’s being Gd, as statement or commandment. [A program note: I dislike the translation Ten Commandments for the Aseret Ha-Dibberot; I usually write the Ten Utterances of Pronouncements. Here I’ll just use the Hebrew.] Many of the comments of Onkelos, ...

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