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 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...

Temples Within Temples Within Temples: T’rumah

Temples Within Temples Within Temples: T'rumah T'rumah: Exodus 25:1-27:19   We find, in this week’s Parashah the Divine injunction that adorns Bet Alef’s new ark: “V’asu Li Mik’dash, v’Shachan’ti b’tocham – Let them make Me a Sanctuary that I might dwell among...

How to Be Holy: Mishpatim

How to Be Holy: Mishpatim Mishpatim: Exodus 21:1-24:18   Both this past week and this week’s Torah portions speak of God’s desire for us to be holy. Last week, just before the Decalogue, God said: “… all the earth is Mine, and you shall be to Me... a holy...

The End of Belief: Yitro

The End of Belief: Yitro Yitro: Exodus 18:1-20:23 We finally reached Mount Sinai, ten weeks after escaping Egypt. There, Moses told us we had three days to purify ourselves and wash our clothing in preparation for our meeting with God. And as morning dawned on the...

Then!: B’shalach

Then: B'shalach B'shalach: Exodus 13:17-17:16 This week’s Torah portion has all the traits of a great adventure novel. We ran away, but they pursued us. We took an unexpected turn that brought us to the edge of an impassable sea; and they were closing in on us fast....

God Acts in Wondrous Ways: Bo

God Acts in Wondrous Ways: Bo Bo: Exodus 10:1-13:16   Our Torah portion opens, this week, with the last four plagues to befall Egypt. “Then the Eternal One said to Moses, ‘Go to Pharaoh. For I have hardened his heart… so that I may display My signs among them,...

Worthy and Belonging: Va’eira

Worthy and Belonging: Va'eira Va'eira: Exodus 6:2-9:35 I am discovering a totally different facet of the personality of Moses this year. What has been present for me is Moses’ ongoing lack of trust in himself and in his abilities. At the end of last week’s portion,...

You Can Take Moses Out of Egypt, but…: Shemot

You Can Take Moses Out of Egypt, but...: Shemot Shemot: Exodus 1:1-6:1 This week marks the beginning of the Exodus story with Moses as its central character. At its core, this story is one of liberation. And beneath its literal level, it is about the inner spiritual...

Awakening to a Deeper Trust: Vayechi

Awakening to a Deeper Trust: Vayechi Vayechi: Genesis 47:28-50:26 Trust is a central tenet in our tradition. Judaism is not a creedal religion, by which I mean that no acceptance of a specific theological system, no adoption of dogma, is required in order to be...