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.

Freedom From The Yoke of Desires: Nasso

Freedom From The Yoke of Desires: Nasso Nasso: Numbers 4:21-7:89   As we often hear, mindfulness practice is the art of being present to each moment, of paying attention to each experience in our everyday life. Interestingly enough, in Hebrew, the expression for...

We Lose Our self to Find Our Self: B’midbar

We Lose Our self to Find Our Self: B'midbar B-midbar: Numbers 1:1 - 4:20 The midrash relating to the opening of this week's Torah portion, "B'midbar," meaning: "In the wilderness;" asks its reader: "Why was the Torah given in the wilderness?" Why not, our rabbis...

The Pursuit of Holiness: Acharei Mot-Kedoshim

The Pursuit of Holiness: Acharei Mot-Kedoshim Acharei Mot-Kedoshim: Leviticus 16:1-20:27 The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the entire Israelite community and say to them: You shall be holy, for I, the Eternal your God, am holy. [Lev. 19:1-2] Most...

We Are Energy Beings: Tazria-Metzora

We Are Energy Beings: Tazria-Metzora Tazria-Metzora: Leviticus 12:1-15:33 This week’s Torah portion is, admittedly, a challenge to our modern sensibilities. This portion talks about tzara’at, a skin affliction most translators define as leprosy; although no one knows...

Joy and the Possibility of Forgiveness: Sh’mini

Joy and the Possibility of Forgiveness: Sh'mini Sh'mini: Leviticus 9:1-11:47 The inaugural ceremony of the Tabernacle’s dedication and the ordination of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood which began with last week’s Torah portion, concludes this week. “BaYom...

The Light of Our Heart: Tzav

The Light of Our Heart: Tzav Tzav: Leviticus 6:1-8:36   In my approach to Torah, I see the text as myth, not reality. I presuppose that, as such, the stories it conveys speak of universal archetypes relating to the human spiritual journey, and seek to unpack the...

The Fire of Divine Love: VaYikra

The Fire of Divine Love: VaYikra VaYikra: Leviticus 1:1-5:26 The last few Torah portions of the Book of Exodus were, as we have seen, focused on the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness; a Sacred Space amidst the traveling Israelite tribes where God came to...

Calling All Angels: Vayak’hel-Pekudei

Calling All Angels: Vayak'hel-Pekudei Vayak'hel-Pekudei: Exodus 35:1-40:38 We are entering into the closing chapters of the Book of Exodus. This week’s Torah portion marks the retelling of the building of the Tabernacle in accord with the instructions Moses had...

Living Our Lives “All in”: Ki Tissa

Living Our Lives "All in": Ki Tissa Ki Tissa: Exodus 30:11-34:35   I have been fascinated, this year, by Moses’ spiritual evolution one Torah portion at a time. Since the beginning, I noticed, Moses has been ambivalent toward the Israelites; remaining somewhat...

The Olive Oil Paradigm: Tetzaveh

The Olive Oil Paradigm: Tetzaveh Tetzaveh: Exodus 27:20-30:10 You shall further instruct the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light, to kindle an eternal light. Aaron and his sons shall set it up in the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain...