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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.

You Are a Stiffnecked People!

Eikev: Deuteronomy 7:12 - 11:25 "You Are a Stiffnecked People!"   In the middle of our Torah portion Moses, once again, admonishes our people for our intractable stubbornness: “Know, then, that it is not for any virtue of yours that the Eternal your God is giving...

The Blueprint of a Spiritual Journey

VaEt'chanan: Deuteronomy 3:23 - 7:11 "The Blueprint of a Spiritual Journey"   This week’s Torah portion is awash in an abundance of themes. It includes Moses’ plea to God to upend His death sentence so that he, too, may enter the Promised Land. It speaks of the...

How Gemilut Chasadim Changes the World

Balak: Number 22:2 - 25:9 "How Gemilut Chasadim Changes the World"   One of the most popular writings of the Hebrew Bible is Pirkei Avot. Mistakenly translated as “Ethics of the Fathers,” it truly means: “First Principles.” The second principle in the opening...

The Dissolving Power of the Light of Truth

Chukat: Number 19:1 - 22:1 "The Dissolving Power of the Light of Truth"   Since we left last week’s Torah portion and opened our books again to study this week’s, thirty-eight years have passed. The generation of Israelites who had known the slavery of Egypt has...

The Rebel Within

Korach: Number 16:1 - 18:32 "The Rebel Within"   This week’s Torah portion retells the famous story of the rebellion of Korach. Korach challenges Moses and Aharon’s authority and their system of rule over the Hebrews. “All the community are holy, each and every...

They Warned Moses and They Were Right

Sh'lach L'cha: Number 13:1 - 15:41 "They Warned Moses and They Were Right"   This week’s Torah portion begins with the famous episode of the spies. Much has been said and written about this episode as it is a turning point in the unfolding drama of our exodus...

Receiving Torah with a Kiss

B'haalot'cha: Number 8:1 - 12:16 "Receiving Torah with a Kiss"   Arguably, the most important moment in the entire Jewish Bible, is that of the Revelation at Sinai and of matan Torah, of God gifting Torah. Torah means “teaching.” There, atop the trembling smoking...

Freedom From The Yoke of Desires

Nasso: Numbers 4:21 - 7:89 "Freedom From The Yoke of Desires"   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...

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself?

Kedoshim: Leviticus 19:1 - 20:27 "Love Your Neighbor as Yourself?"   Tucked in-between the verses of what is known as the “Holiness Code” that spans this and last week’s Torah portion, is one of the best-known proclamations in Torah: “Love your neighbor as...

A Holiness Code for Tomorrow

Acharei Mot: Leviticus 16:1 - 18:30 "A Holiness Code for Tomorrow"   This week’s Torah portion marks the beginning of what is known as the Holiness Code which will span the rest of Leviticus. This Holiness Code is a code of conduct, a guide that seeks to define a...

Mandatory Generosity at Our Seder

Passover 5782 "Mandatory Generosity at Our Seder"   A week from today, 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...