Torah: Black Fire On White Fire

When we think about a Torah scroll, we usually only consider the letters themselves, written in black ink. Yet, the Talmud (Menachot 29a) rules that every letter in a Torah scroll must be completely surrounded by parchment in a requirement called mukaf gevil. The white parchment around the letters is an integral part of the Torah; without it, …

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Intro To Mussar: Jewish Mindfulness

Rabbi (Rav) Yisrael Salanter (1810-1883) was a famed Talmudist and founder of the Mussar movement. Rav Salanter was mentored in Mussar by Rabbi Zundel. They both lived very modest lives. Rav Salanter was appointed the head of a yeshiva in Vilna, where he lived in poverty, and acquired his own following. After turning down a …

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Beha’alotcha: Weekly Torah Portion (06/13)

Parsha Beha'alotcha / בהעלתך: Bamidbar/Numbers 8:1 - 12:16 D’var Torah The word Beha’alotecha is translated a few different ways: “When You Go Up, When You Step Up (Rashi) or When You Raise Up [The Light].” The Lord spoke to Moses and instructed him to have Aaron set up the seven lamps to shine upon the …

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Bamidbar – Weekly Torah Portion (D’var Torah)

Parashat Bamidbar / פרשת במדבר The parsha (Torah Portion) for this Shabbat. Many rabbis focus on the census portion of Bamidbar. The counting of the people is an important message (let everyone be counted, let everyone count and let everyone stand up and be counted!) but there’s another aspect that stands out to me as …

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Conscious Eating and Food Shaming

Food Shaming We can see an example of food shaming and using food inappropriately in the Torah in the tale of twin brothers, Esau/Esav and Jacob/Ya’akov. Esau is the skilled hunter, who puts meat on his family’s table. Jacob is the homebody. When Esau/Esav returns home from an unsuccessful hunting trip, he finds his brother …

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Abraham and Sarah – Jewish links to Vedic Roots?

Jews are derived from the Indian philosophers; they are named by the Indians Calani.History of the Jews, by Jewish scholar and theologian Flavius Josephus (37 - 100 A.D.), quoting Greek philosopher Aristotle The Jews descend from the philosophers of India. In India the philosophers are called Calanians. In Syria they are called, Jews.Clearchus of Soli …

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Moses, Pharaoh and The Ten Plagues – A Parable. Passover Trilogy, Part III

MOSES: Means — “drawn out/pulled out [of water].“ The Moses factor ‘draws us out’ and lead us out of psychological bondage. The “water” aspect of his name symbolizes a balanced state of empowerment and fluidity. ISRAELITES: The arduous journey to illumination and spiritual discipline. The Israelites rebelled against spiritual discipline. They symbolize our defiant natures. …

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Will the Real Passover Please Stand up? Passover Trilogy, Part II

Now that I’ve ruffled some feathers or raised some hackles with PART I, I’m going to (hopefully) redeem myself. After all, Pesach (Passover) is all about redemption. Passover is a special time to focus on on liberating ourselves from all the oppressive behaviors and influences holding us down. In the retelling of the Passover tale …

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The Exodus: Fact or Fiction? The Passover Trilogy, Part I

Shemot/Exodus 12Could 600,000 men, plus women and children, (an estimated two million people) along with a “multitude of flocks, herds and cattle” have crossed the entire length of the Sinai desert, without leaving a shard pottery behind? (Exodus 12:37-38) I’m going to say, no. If a couple million humans and herds of animals crossed the …

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Spirit Animals In Judaism

The most notorious talking animal in the Torah is the snake (nachash) in Gan Eden (Garden of Eden). More about the snake later. Yep, we have spirit animals in Jewish literature (Torah, Midrash and folklore) and they converse with humans! All are meant to mentor or impart a message, as spirit animals do. I love …

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