(206) 527-9399

Torah Reflections

Each week, Rabbi Olivier prepares a written reflection on the weekly Torah portion. These provide yet another way to discover the texts sacred to Judaism and to prepare for Shabbat each week.

Dust & Ashes Sprinkled by the Shechinah

Chukat: Numbers 19:1 - 22:1 "Dust & Ashes Sprinkled by the Shechinah"   A famous saying in the Talmud teaches: “These are things the fruits of which a man enjoys in this world, while the principal remains for him in the World to Come: Honoring one's father...

Battle at The Edge of The Promised Land

Korach: Numbers 16:1 - 18:32 "Battle at The Edge of The Promised Land"   We left the Israelites at the edge of the Promised Land last week. Twelve tribal leaders, who had gone to scope out the Land, had come back. Ten to two, they advised against entering into...

Why The Spies Were Wrong

Sh'lach L'cha: Numbers 13:1 - 15:41 "Why The Spies Were Wrong"   This week, in Torah, we meet again the story of the twelve elders, leaders of the Hebrew tribes, whom Moses sends to spy upon the Land of Canaan ahead of the Israelites’ invasion. Returning after...

The I of The Storm

B'haalot'cha: Numbers 8:1 - 12:16 "The I of The Storm"   Like many times before in the Exodus narrative, the Hebrews are, once again, rebelling against Moses and complaining about their current condition. This time, the wilderness’ food monotony is what causes...

True Blessing

Naso: Numbers 4:21 - 7:89 "True Blessing"   In our Torah reading this week we happen upon one of the central blessings of our tradition; the Priestly Blessing. And the Eternal spoke to Moses, saying; Speak to Aaron and to his sons saying; Thus you shall bless the...

E Pluribus Unum

B'Midbar: Numbers 1:1 - 4:20 "E Pluribus Unum"   It is no big secret that the Jewish home is a divided one. The events of this week in Israel and Palestine have been, among other things, an additional blow to the lost unity of our people. We are at great odds. We...

Drawing Near Through Generosity

Acharei Mot - Kedoshim: Leviticus 16:1 - 18:30 "Drawing Near Through Generosity"   There is an interesting passage in this week’s double Torah portion that caught my eye this time around. God, through Moses, asks the Israelites to only bring sacrifices at the...

Sin is a Divine Gift

Tazria - Metzora: Leviticus 12:1 - 13:51 "Sin is a Divine Gift"   Our weekly Torah reading begins laying out spiritual practices connected to human birth: “Ishah ki tazria… – When a woman conceives…” [Lev. 12:2] In his commentary on these three words, Rashi...

What is God’s Will for Me?

Sh'mini, Leviticus 9:1 - 11:47 "What is God's Will for Me?"   Growing up, I always had difficulties, with the concept of “doing God’s will” that my rabbis often spoke of. Somehow, I was supposed to do “God’s will” in all my daily actions. For them, doing God’s...

The End of The Universe

VaYikra, Leviticus 6:1 - 8:36 "The End of The Universe"   The early verses of this week’s Torah portion are translated by our mystics as follows: This is the Torah of the ascending-offering. This is the ascending-offering that stays on the flame, on the altar,...

How Will We Answer The Call?

VaYikra, Leviticus 1:1 - 5:26 "How Will We Answer The Call?"   “VaYikra el Mosheh vaYedaber YHVH elav me-ohel moed – He called to Moses. The Eternal One spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting.” [Lev. 1:1] Thus begins not only this week’s Torah portion, but the...

Our Spiritual Attitude Toward Work

VaYak'hel - Pekudei, Exodus 35:1 - 40:48 "Our Spiritual Attitude Toward Work"   This week’s double portion in our Torah reading marks the conclusion of the Book of Exodus. The construction of the Tabernacle begins in earnest, only preceded by Moses gathering the...