This week we begin the Book of Exodus. The first portion is one of transformation – the children of Israel, the family of Jacob, become the “Hebrews” and the Children of Israel, with a national focus.
This week we read the final chapters of Genesis. Jacob is approaching the end of his life. We are told that he lived until the age of 147 and that he spent the last 17 years of his life in Egypt. Just before his death, he blesses his grandchildren, Ephraim and Menashe, and then blesses each of his sons.
In this week’s Torah portion, we continue the story of Joseph in Egypt. The portion begins with Joseph’s rise to power, thanks to his interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream. He is given full responsibility for feeding the nation and, indeed surrounding nations, during the upcoming famine.
This week’s portion begins the story of Joseph, beginning with Genesis chapter 37. We learn that Jacob favors Joseph and buys him a striped coat, which results in the brothers’ terrible jealousy of him.
Biblical Values keep our Families Strong Chapter 18 of Leviticus is seemingly a list of dos and don’ts, not unlike many of the rules of purity and impurity listed throughout Leviticus. But at closer examination, there is something different about the instructions listed here. The chapter begins with the verse: You shall not do as … Read more
The Day of Atonement is, indeed, the holiest day of the year. The most important element of the holiday, however, is the atonement connected with it. “You shall be clean before the Lord from all your sins.” And again at the end of the section: “And this shall be a statute forever for you, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once in the year because of all their sins.” (verse 34)
Moses then reminds them of the sin of the spies who had returned from the Land of Israel and spoke ill of the land, causing the people to doubt the success of their imminent entry. God’s response, of course, was to punish the people and delay the entry for an additional 38 years. Moses fears that if Reuben and Gad remain in the land east of the Jordan, the rest of the people will refuse to enter. After years of experience with the Children of Israel, Moses is quite aware that the littlest provocation can instill fear and lack of faith in the people.
For centuries, anti-Semitism was fueled by a belief that G-d had abandoned His people, that the promises that had been listed specifically in the Bible for the Jewish people were no longer relevant. Medieval Christian theologies were based on this premise. But it is the clear statement in verse 44 that belies this idea, for G-d explicitly states that, despite exile and deserved punishment, G-d will never break His covenant with us.
The Sabbath reminds us that G-d created the world and we are commanded to rest one day each week, to stop our activities of work and creation and devote ourselves to spiritual pursuits. The land does the same in the seventh year and reverts to its original owner in the 50th year, after seven Sabbatical cycles.