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Leviticus (Vayikra)

Emor 5778 – Should Conservative Rabbis Officiate at Intermarriages?

May 19, 2018
Jewish Wedding

They shall not marry a woman defiled by harlotry, nor shall they marry one divorced from her husband. For they are holy to their God …Leviticus 21:7 He may marry only a woman who is a virgin. A widow, or a divorced woman, or one who is degraded by harlotry—such he may not marry....
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Tazria-Metzora 5778: The Power of Words

April 25, 2018
burnt sacrifice

This week’s Torah portion, Tazria-Metzora, opens with a discussion of the ritual impurity connected with child-bearing. After giving birth a woman is in a state of ritual impurity similar to what happens when she has her period. The Torah tells us, On the completion of her period of purification, for either son or daughter,...
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Tazria-Metzora 5777 – Never Again? Or Again and Again?

April 30, 2017
Aleppo, Syria

“Never again!” “Never again!” Earlier this week I heard our own Riva Hirsch share her moving story in a Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration at the offices of the Social Security Administration here in Birmingham. A large auditorium was filled with over 300 people, including a lot of schoolchildren: Thursday was a good day for...
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Bechukotai 5774 – Blessings and Curses

May 16, 2014

This week’s Torah reading, Bechukotai, contains the tokecha, the “rebuke.” God tells us if we follow the rules, things will be good for us and we’ll enjoy blessings.  And if we don’t follow the rules, things will be bad.  REALLY bad.  One verse says we’ll be eating our children. I never could connect with that...
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Tazria 5774 – Picking and Choosing

March 28, 2014
Tazria 5774 – Picking and Choosing

And the leper in whom the disease is, his clothes shall be torn, and his head bare, and he shall put a cover upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. …Leviticus 13:45 I hope my Christian friends won’t be offended by my asking this, but I really don’t understand the Christian relationship...
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Tazria – Metzora 5773 Don’t Touch Me, You’re Impure

April 12, 2013
Tazria – Metzora 5773 Don’t Touch Me, You’re Impure

The rituals surrounding taharat mishpacha, “family purity,” are some of the more difficult laws for many modern liberal Jews to understand. This week’s Torah portion contains the basis of many of these rules. Leviticus 15:19 is a challenge for the contemporary reader: “And if a woman has a discharge, and the discharge of her...
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