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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.

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...

The Sacred Time of Giving Birth

Tazria: Leviticus 12:1 - 13:59 "The Sacred Time of Giving Birth"   This week’s Torah portion begins with: The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Israelite people thus: When a woman at childbirth bears a male, she shall be impure seven days; she...

Joy and the Possibility of Forgiveness

Sh'mini: Leviticus 9:1 - 11:47 "Joy and the Possibility of Forgiveness"   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: Leviticus 6:1 - 8:36 "The Light of Our Heart"   My approach to Torah understands the text as myth or spiritual parables and definitely not as reality. I presuppose that, as such, the stories it conveys speak of universal archetypes relating to the human...

The Fire of Divine Love

Vayikra: Leviticus 1:1 - 5:26 "The Fire of Divine Love"   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...

Practices on Our Way to Sinai

Pekudei: Exodus 38:21 - 40:38 "Practices on Our 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...

Living Our Lives “All in!”

Ki Tissa: Exodus 30:11 - 34:35 "Living Our Lives "All in!""   It is fascinating to follow Moses’ spiritual evolution one Torah portion at a time. From the beginning of his story, we find him to be ambivalent toward the Israelites, remaining somewhat distant,...

The Power of Mitzvot

T'tzaveh: Exodus 27:20 - 30:10 "The Power of Mitzvot"   This week’s Torah portion is called T’tzaveh, which is usually translated as “Instruct!” or “Command!” The word itself shares the same root as mitzvah which is also, most often, translated as “commandment.”...