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.

The True Purpose of Blessing: Nasso

The True Purpose of Blessing: Nasso Nasso: Numbers 4:21-7:89 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...

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

We Lose Our Self to Find Our Self B'midbar: Number 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 wondered, give the...

The Jewish Path of Mindfulness: B’chukotai

The Jewish Path of Mindfulness B'chukotai: Leviticus 26:3 – 27:34 If your path is imbued with My instructions and your actions remain connected to and flow from your inner Divine source (Mitzvot,) then I will gift your rains in their time and the land will yield its...

Knowing God vs Playing God: Emor

Knowing God vs Playing God Emor: Leviticus 21:1 - 24:23 The beginning verses in this week’s Torah portion are rather challenging to our current understanding of spirituality. They define an impossibly strict code of holiness for the priestly caste. In reading these...

The Pursuit of Holiness: Kedoshim

The Pursuit of Holiness Kedoshim: Leviticus 19:1 - 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 rabbinic and scholarly commentaries...

Passover Reflections: April 19-28, 2019

Mandatory Generosity at Our Seder Tonight, at our first Passover Seder, we will begin telling the story of our exodus from Egypt raising the matzah and saying in one voice: Ha lachma anya… This is the bread of affliction, the bread of simplicity, which our ancestors...

Torah Reflections: April 12, 2019

Metzora Leviticus 14:1 - 15:33 The Liberating Power of Generosity This week marks the beginning of our Passover preparation. This spring cleaning is both an outer process of emptying our homes of the forbiddenchametz (product made of leavened wheat, barley, rye, oats,...

Torah Reflections: March 24 – 30, 2019

Sh'mini Leviticus 9:1 - 11:47   What is God's Will For Me? Why Are We Here? 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...

Torah Reflections March 17 – 23, 2019

Tzav Leviticus 6:1 - 8:36   To The End of The Universe Tonight, at our first Passover Seder, we will begin telling the story of our exodus from Egypt raising the matzah and saying in one voice: Ha lachma anya… This is the bread of affliction, the bread of...

Torah Reflections: March 10 – 16, 2019

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 Book...

Torah Reflections: March 3 – 9, 2019

Pekudei Exodus 38:21 - 40:38   Practices on The Way to Sinai   This week’s Torah portion brings the book of Exodus to a close. On the surface, these past weeks told the story of our Exodus from Egypt (Mitzrayim) and our experience at Sinai; yet at a deeper...

Torah Reflections: February 3 – 9, 2019

T'rumah Exodus 25:1 - 27:19   The Kabbalah of Our Beings   Judaism sees each of us, every being, as a channel of the most sacred. As such we are called to make ourselves selfless compassionate servants of the greater good and allow Wisdom to infuse all our...

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