Parshah Columnists - Acharei-Kedoshim

Guest Columnists
Why Do Mitzvot?
Ultimately, every answer is, in a sense, a correct answer
Where Do Ethics Come From?
Should we clone people? Is there such a thing as a life not worth living? When is it correct to go to war? But the real question is: on what biases do we answer these ethical dilemmas?
Why Is Torah Law So Restrictive of Contact Between the Genders?
Should any physical contact that is friendly be considered intimate? Hopefully, it should.
The Gift of Forgiveness
From my perspective as a family therapist, the greatest treasure in our Torah-inheritance is the instruction to free ourselves of anger and resentment...
Car Therapy
Sometimes we mistakenly believe that negative behavior or language is only problematic when it hurts someone else. We think that we have a license to behave as we wish, as long as we keep it to ourselves.
The Torah on Dirty Words
What is the Jewish stance on cursing and curse words? I’ve heard the line that our bodies are a temple, and that defaming G‑d’s name is very bad, but what about a little curse here or there when you are really mad?
Renewable Energy in the Torah
No form of energy is of any use unless there is a way to channel and harness it. Otherwise, the energy simply dissipates.
The Rational Brain vs. the Emotional Brain
Acharei Mot
Leaving Egypt was not just a physical change in geography.
Authentic Freedom
How could the newly liberated Jew know what his or her real self was? How could a recently freed slave understand his or her potential, much less how to actualize it?
Wedding Speeches for Acharei
Fake It Until They Make It?
Can you simply call your struggling business colleague a “success story” and expect him to perform?
The Effects of Emotional Trauma
Robbing is akin to slaying someone, but if the aggressor has remorse we let him off the hook!?
The Sin of Aaron's Sons
An Essay on Parshat Acharei Mot
The cause of the sin was overfamiliarity with G‑d and His service.
Saintly or Simple?
An Essay on Parshat Kedoshim
Weekly Sermonette
Moral Is Normal
Since there are people out there who, tragically, may have lost a leg, this would mean that the “average” person has something like 1.97 legs. But that isn’t quite “normal.” A normal person still has two legs...
Who is Holy?
Is it the mystic in the mountains, the monk in the monastery, or the guru in the garage? Judaism is certainly rich in spirituality; but how would it define 'holy'?
Spiritual vs. Holy
Not everything spiritual is necessary holy, and not everything holy need be spiritual
Love Thy Shrek as Thyself
So what if he's ugly and his mother dresses him funny? His soul is pure and untainted
Eternally Grateful
What happens when a parent is aging ungracefully? What if they are becoming irritable, cantankerous and just plain difficult? Becoming old and forgetful isn’t pretty . . .
“Thou Shalt Not Be Judgmental”
Hearing only half a conversation and drawing conclusions can be dangerous.
Life's Passages
How Can Men and Women Get Along?
Isn’t marriage between man and woman a violation of the laws of kilayim, which prohibit the intermixing of divergent species?
How in the World Can I Really Love Another as Myself?
Do I need to be blind to the faults of another?
For Friday Night
Towards a Successful Revolution
It may seem that the revolutionary attempt to break out of limitations without self-destructing is doomed to failure. However, the Rebbe comments, the teaching of our parshah is that it is possible.
Restraint is Power
Have you ever felt like losing your temper but at the last moment you managed to restrain yourself? Inner battles of this kind are often associated with traffic wardens and similar representatives of officialdom...
Turning Holiness Upside Down
Why all this self-restraint? Why not just enjoy oneself, especially if one isn't transgressing any law? What is the problem?
The Central Teaching
The idea that the entire Torah focuses around the theme of one's relationship with other people is quite striking
A Glimpse of Holiness
We thus have three concepts: holiness, respect for parents and the Shabbat. These three ideas tell us something about the fundamental purpose and nature of the Jewish people . . .
Inner Stream
Man and the Tree
The Torah teaches that for the first three years the fruit of a newly planted tree is forbidden to us. The majority of Jews today no longer work in the agriculture, but we are all gardeners at heart
A Lifetime of Forward Steps
"Try to reach Me but know that you really will." What a disheartening thought!
Journeys of Sanctification
The mixed message in the double reading of Acharei Mot (Leviticus 16-18) and Kedoshim (Leviticus 19-20)
Finding Time
Let’s face it, not all people are pleasant. Some people leave us wondering if we should continue making time for them or focus on things we enjoy.
Is Asceticism a Jewish Value?
What of the promise G‑d made to Abraham and delivered through Moses, that our ancestors would be freed from Egypt with great wealth? If austerity is the symbol of freedom, why did G‑d muddy their crystal purity with the burden of prosperity?
What the Rebbe Taught Me
Are You Successful?
Some religious doctrines see marriage as a concession to human weakness. Nothing could be further from Jewish thought . . .
Weight Watchers
The average thief’s deed consists of straightforward dishonesty and evil. The one with the false measures, on the other hand, is professing to the world that he is honest
G-d In Man's Image
When "concession" is necessary for our relationship with G-d.
Reflections on the Parshah
Community Dis-service
A heightened sense of community responsibility is imperative -- but is that the highest priority?
Earning Children's Honor
The devoted family, an anchorage amid confusion, is rapidly disappearing. It is time to return to the values which created bonds of respect between children and parents.
Parshah Blog
The Scapegoat
The scapegoat has been a laughingstock, fodder for the scoffers, since time immemorial. Even the Talmud singles out the scapegoat – from amongst all the sacrifices – as a potential source of derision.
Parshah Moment
All About Spirituality
Truth is, when people say "spiritual" they mean abstract: a quest for the unnoticed, unstated, the uncommon. But spirituality, in that definition, is not something inherently good, worthy or desirable...
Living through the Parshah
Conscious Cuisine
Once I was hooked on raw food, the awful restrictions seemed like a privileged progress towards a higher plane of sensitivity and consciousness—precisely the Jewish view of G-d’s restrictions.
How to Give Good Advice
What are the implications of the Torah’s cautionary remark about sensitivity towards a blind man? Personal liability is a topic that’s already been laid out in the Torah in graphic detail, so what’s the new mitzvah that G‑d is teaching us here?
Soul Sister
I was feeling great before she walked into the room. She came in, our eyes met, and my joie de vivre started to deflate . . .
Parshah Messages
"Pass the Salt, Please..."
How does one simultaneously dwell in two contradictory worlds—the world of the spirit and the world of the flesh? Sprinkling every area of life with salt is the solution.
Compound Verses
Some commandments share “verse space” with another mitzvah. It is interesting to analyze these “compound verses” to find the unifying thread. Rebuke and love . . . Love and revenge . . . Know, but remain silent . . .
The Off-Duty EMT Fiasco
The EMTs told employees at the eatery to call 911 and then left when they were asked to help. The woman was eventually taken to a hospital, where she died a short time later...
Torah for Now
Take Your Body Along
If when involved in a holy experience we feel uplifted, but only the soul makes the trip while the body remains behind, we are making the same holy error as the children of Aaron.
Don't Be Holy!
Holiness is overrated, Kedushah is not
The things that are kodesh, "holy," are the ordinary events and stuff of life; remaining so, but separated from undesirable elements that would dilute and weaken them.
Weekly Torah
From the Heart
It is said that "Words that come from the heart, enter the heart." If the other person is not receptive to my message, this is a clear indication that my words are not coming from ‘the right place’
Brotherly Love
The Talmud relates that one who came to Hillel and asked him to teach him the whole Torah whilst standing on one foot. Hillel replied 'What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. This is the whole Torah - the rest is commentary..." Why did Hillel place so much emphasis on this particular precept?
What Do You Think?
Who Was Itamar?
The Little-Known Fourth Son of Aaron
We first read of Itamar’s role when we are told of sums of gold, silver and other supplies that were used to build and furnish the Mishkan
Eulogies for the Living
It seems there’s always so much good to say about those who have departed. But wasn’t the deceased, like all others, a human being? Did you really think that he was so perfect yesterday?
But I Don’t Love Myself!
How can I share something I don’t have? How can I accept another if I don’t accept myself? How can I “love my fellow as myself” if I don’t love myself?
The Tragic History of Molech Child Sacrifice
In biblical times there were numerous false gods that were popular in the ancient pagan societies, and, at times, among the Jewish people as well.
Parshah Musings
Just Call
To be a real Jew is to reach out to help others. Sympathy is nice, but that’s just the start of a long journey. The only way to find out what people need is through hard work and determination.
Blood Brothers
What earthly resemblance do any of these comic book characters have to me or my lifestyle?
Save Me!
Did you read about the quiet schoolboy who dived off a cliff fifteen times into an earthquake of burning buildings while standing in front of oncoming trains and wrestling with wild lions all to save three lost budgies?
Thank G-d!
What do you reckon the most well known Jewish expression is? In my experience, when Jews want to demonstrate some knowledge or commitment to Judaism, they trot out "Baruch Hashem" – "Thank G‑d!
The Sage and the Rage
When you make the decision to abandon your rage, no matter how justified, you exercise self-control and own your own emotions.
Heaven Exposed
At Onement
On Yom Kippur we embrace. Our harmony is no longer a harmony of "should", but a harmony of "is". All is forgiven. At onement
What's So Terrible About Idolatry?
I don't mean massive temples with human sacrifices. What about a civilized idolater, in the privacy of his own home? What's so terrible?
How to Criticize and Other Thoughts On Love
Criticizing another person is not out of the question. It's just that there are a few conditions to attend to before you start...
Because We're All One
Ahavat Yisrael
If we are a religion, then some Jews are more Jewish, others less Jewish, and many not at all. Perhaps nothing has been as detrimental to the Jewish people as the modern idea that Judaism is a religion.
Do We Love Too Much?
A love relationship can thus be compared to an electrical circuit: should the resistance fall, the circuit will “short” and burn out.
Day One
How can we possibly imagine that in the conglomerate of cells, organs and limbs we call our "body", extending across the hills and valleys of the terrain we call "time", there resides a single and singular "I"?
Does G-d Want Us To Enjoy Ourselves?
The message is mixed
The Fifth Year
Is it what we do, or why we do it? Do we enter life to play a part in a pre-established cosmic plan, or do we also have a role in defining the significance of our actions?
Love Yourself
How can we truly love another? Isn’t that a logical impossibility?
The Things You See
In this world that G-d made, there are no tourists--just local residents. There are no fans in the bleachers--only players on the field. No audience--just actors
Parshah Recovery
Sobriety in the Home
What a letdown it was for many of us to learn that being clean and sober was not the elixir of love that we sought. Recovery didn't suddenly make us so irresistibly charming and desirable...
An Honest Measure
Even if in actual practice, one only uses honest measures, the mere fact that he keeps with him another set of dishonest measurements already constitutes a certain duplicity of character.
More Parshah Articles
Love: an Anthology
Thirty two articles and stories on love: filial love, romantic love, friendship, love of self, love of G-d -- so different from each other, yet somehow all the same
The Practical Implications of Infinity
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and the essence of Jewish mysticism
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and the essence of Jewish mysticism
What is Shatnez?
Of all the ancient laws and customs of the Jews, one of the most mysterious is that of the law forbidding shaatnez.
Covenant & Conversation
Thinking Fast and Slow
The power of ritual is that it does not speak in abstractions – reason versus emotion, instinctual deferral rather than gratification
The Courage to Admit Mistakes
Leaders, above all, should be capable of acknowledging when and how they had erred, and how to put it right.
The Scapegoat: Atonement and Purification
Why two identical animals whose fate, so different, was decided by the drawing of a lot? And who or what was Azazel?
Sprints & Marathons
Moses had to contend with both sides: inducing the Israelites to do teshuvah and G-d to exercise forgiveness.
The Scapegoat: Shame and Guilt
There is another difference, which explains why Judaism is overwhelmingly a guilt rather than a shame culture.
Love and Hate
Understanding two different approaches to a single verse: the social vs. the interpersonal.
Uncritical followership and habits of silent obedience give rise to the corruptions of power, or sometimes simply to avoidable catastrophes.
In Search of Jewish Identity
What are we? What makes us Jewish? This has been one of the persisting debates about Jewish life ever since the nineteenth century.
From Priest to People
Something fundamental happens at the beginning of this parsha and the story is one of the greatest, if rarely acknowledged, contributions of Judaism to the world.
Beyond Speech
How to Balance Life
On one hand, I had suffered so much. On the other hand, I love my family.
Saving a Life Is Keeping Shabbat
Living with ALS, there were countless times that I had to be saved on Shabbat.
What Became Clear to Me When I Was Diagnosed With ALS
It is unbelievable how small and petty differences drive us apart.
Honesty and Egypt
What is the connection between honest weights and measures, and the exodus from Egypt?
On the Haftarah: Supporting the Fallen
A commentary on the haftarah of Acharei Mot-Kedoshim
G‑d says that we are to Him like the children of Kush (Ethiopia) and talks about how he took us out of Egypt.
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