Parshah Columnists - Vayikra

Guest Columnists
Don’t Feel Like a Nothing
There is no such thing as “feeling like a nothing” for those who are spiritually alive and growing.
Heart vs. Action
Does the mitzvah count if you scrupulously perform the physical details but without feeling?
Why Is Hard Good?
Difficult doesn’t mean bad, opposition isn’t the enemy, and challenge is more often than not the best that could happen to you.
What is the Point of Animal Sacrifices?
Why would an infinite, all-knowing, omnipotent G‑d wish for people to offer up animal sacrifices? It seems to be a pointless waste of resources and needless dispensing of life.
The Small Aleph
In the titular opening word of the third book of the Torah - Vayikra (Leviticus), the Aleph is small. What is the signifigance of this small Aleph?
The Crying Waters
Hearing the Voice of G-d
Choose your inner thoughts. Quiet your brain and your soul. Be present and open to the miracle embedded in every single moment.
Am I Only Human?
An animal does what it does, it makes no choices, it makes no mistakes. Lions eat zebras and raccoons knock over garbage pails. We can be annoyed but never angry with them. We must never be raccoons.
My Father in Heaven
My father had lots of rules. Some of them I understood, and some of them I didn't understand
Go the Extra Mile
When given an opportunity to earn more dollars, few people will say, “Why bother? I can manage with the bare necessities.” Why would the spiritual quality of life be any less important?
Got Salt?
The commandment to place salt on every sacrifice is repeated three times. Why so much emphasis?
Love in All the Gross Places
With all its gory detail, this is a book about love.
What is Your Sacrifice?
Parshat Vayikra
Although the monetary value of the meal offering can not be compared to that of an animal sacrifice, the amount of physical and spiritual effort that went into this act for this particular person is priceless...
When My Daughter Learned to Say No
Discovering the Small Alef
For the moment, my heart overflows with pride as I witness her burgeoning independence, her sense of self. I know that in a few months or years from now, these traits may not always seem so endearing, but for now, I kvell.
Wedding Speeches for Vayikra
Should You Be Sorry for Slips of the Tongue?
If you hurt someone’s feelings as a result of a mere slip of the tongue, presumably there is nothing to be sorry for. Presumably it “meant nothing.” Unless, of course, unconscious gestures are even more meaningful than conscious ones.
On Holiness
"Leviticus deals with the various aspects of holiness. Holiness is found in all of the book’s subjects, in the major principles as well as in the small particulars"
Weekly Sermonette
Are You a Bull Or a Lamb?
Are you a goring bull, trampling on everyone and everything in its way? A meek, little lamb that timidly follows the crowd?
Sacrificial Lamb, Anyone?
"She demanded Medical School or else!" "She force fed me chicken soup -- intravenously!" Jewish novelists have made millions denouncing their mothers to the world...
Identity Crisis
Amnesia is a frightening illness. It can happen to an individual, and it can happen to a people...
The Alef of Leadership
In Jewish tradition, humility was always considered one of the most exalted virtues.
Life's Passages
When Small Sacrifices Are Huge
My work was stunted. My ideas were disjointed. I felt ill at ease with my life and with my accomplishments.
The Secret to a Healthy Self-Image
How do we properly assess our accomplishments and our shortcomings, avoiding both grandiosity and low self-esteem?
The Freeman Files
Animal Sacrifices?
I can see the experiential quality of it all: an ancient temple with heavenly music and mystical song; priests in flowing robes deep in meditation; mesmerizing, choreographed ritual. But why the barbecue?
Parshah Parenting
A Great Smallness
As parents, we obviously believe that genuine self-esteem is important to our children’s psychological and spiritual development. But how can we avoid the hubris and laziness that invariably accompany an inflated self-image?
Weekly Torah
Adam and Moses
For Friday Night
Sacred Moments
Does modern man and woman have any way to relate to the holy? Or is holiness, being close to G-d, something which eludes us because the pace of life is too fast, or because we are too materialistic?
A Humble Letter
To receive the Divine teachings, Moses had to achieve the quality of utter humility
From Darkness to Light
A thick cloud then covered the Sanctuary. In fact, on account of the cloud, Moses himself was unable to enter the Sanctuary. After all the effort which had gone into building it, it was inaccessible . . .
Parshah Musings
Typesetting, Typecasting
The small Alef of our Parsha is counterpointed by another font change elsewhere in the Bible. The name "Adam,", the first man and the personal handiwork of G-d, is written once with an oversize Alef
Never Say Sorry
There is a brewing political situation, which may or may not develop into a scandal. But it's the cover-up that sinks them every time...
It wasn’t always this way. Until relatively recently, fat was considered a delicacy.
Parshah Messages
The Ultimate Mitzvah
Why does the book devoted to mitzvot start with the laws of sacrifices? Perhaps they encapsulate the inner meaning of mitzvot more than any other individual mitzvah . . .
Living through the Parshah
Just by Existing
I’m pathetically biased, but I embrace my bias. I feel sated with pride, although my children haven’t done anything uniquely successful or unusually brilliant—not yet. I wonder: is this the way G‑d feels towards us?
What Do You Think?
Why Do We Win Huge Wars and Lose Small Battles?
Not to demean the big stuff which are the bedrock of who we are and what we do, but may I venture to say that the real battle, the real sacrifices that are sacrificed daily on our altar, are the small stuff...
How Some People Suffer Joyfully
For my family and me, these past 12 months have been quite a ride. We’ve had wonderful times and times of heartbreak.
Torah for Now
The Scenic Route
The key to “korbanot” (sacrifices) is bringing our entire life “close.” This is through the understanding that every obligation in Judaism is assembled from the components of everyday life . . .
Parshah Blog
Blood on the Altar
The blood-sprinkling ceremony on the altar seems particularly bizarre. Gentlemen, please help me to understand why this practice should sound like a good thing to me!
What the Rebbe Taught Me
A Constant Lover
First G‑d declares His love for the Jew. Only then does He express the desire for something to be done. In G‑d’s books, it turns out, pleasure comes before business.
The Mystery of Jewish History
The existence of the Jewish people, not just their righteous, is a song of G-d.
Inner Stream
The Moment of Shared Intimacy
Moses could have demanded entry into the Tabernacle, but he didn’t. He humbly demurred. Ironically, it was only on account of his humility that he was invited to enter the Tabernacle.
But It Was a Mistake!
Why must a Jew be taken to task for an innocent mistake? He had no intention of disobeying G‑d’s law—why is his behavior considered sinful and in need of atonement?
Two Kinds of Blessings
There are two forms of blessings; those provided by G‑d's universe, and those we earn by the sweat of our brow and the toil of our hands. These two forms of blessings are represented by the animal offering and the wine libation.
The Power to Please
How does fulfilling one commandment atone for transgressing another?
The Daily Offering: A Little Is Enough
You don’t need to do something showy to connect with G‑d. The daily offering can be achieved with something short and to the point.
A Thought for the Week
"Why Me?"
Reflections on the Parshah
Sacrificing the Inner Animal
The service of sacrifices involves much more than the animal being offered on the altar.
Parshah Moment
The Poor Man's Soul
Why does the Torah, when discussing the offerings of rich men, the middle class, and the poor reserve the word nefesh, meaning life or soul, exclusively for the poor man’s offering?
The Shrinking of Man
Is it a good thing that we’ve become so small?
Man has shrunk over the centuries. Suddenly there were all these other people and species dwarfing our significance. Our planet became an infinitesimal speck in a universe of mind-numbing vastness. Did we become humbler?
Calling Moses
Do we surrender to the anti-truth of arbitrary happenstance, or do we embrace the divine calling of purposeful engagement? The difference looks a lot smaller than it is
Tom's House and Harry's Car
“The world, and all it contains,” states the Psalmist, “is G‑d’s." It would seem that the Eighth Commandment is superfluous—since in the final analysis, it’s not possible to steal anything.
Parshah Recovery
All of Me
We are taking those very same character defects that drove us far from G‑d and giving them right back to Him to do with as He pleases. It's not for us to try and determine which parts of us G‑d has use for.
Parshah Stories
The Small Alef
Why is Adam's name spelled with a big Alef and Abraham's with a small one?
The Gift
When no one was in the synagogue, he brought in the loaves under his cloak. He prayed that G‑d should look upon his offering with favor, and eat and enjoy the lovely, freshly baked bread . . .
Covenant & Conversation
Between Destiny and Chance
There is a deep connection between the word Vayikra and the underlying message of the book as a whole.
The Sins of a Leader
Leaders make mistakes. That is inevitable. The real issue is how he or she responds to those mistakes.
What Do We Sacrifice?
The laws of sacrifices that dominate the early chapters of the book of Leviticus, are among the hardest in the Torah to relate to in the present.
The Pursuit of Meaning
It’s easy to suppose that people who find meaning are happy, and people who are happy have found meaning. But the two are not the same, nor do they always overlap.
Beyond Speech
The Meal Offering and Me
With nothing to give of my talents, I was left with raw love and joy towards the visitors, and that apparently came through more powerfully than all of the talents combined.
Change Yourself, Change the World
When one person is being dishonest to another, why does the Torah call it “a transgression against G‑d”?
On the Haftarah: To Love Every Jew
For the Haftarah of Vayikra, From the Teachings of the Rebbe
This haftarah is special in that it gets you feeling that G‑d loves and wants us.
The Power of an Adam
We all have a little bit of Moses in us, and that comes with the ability to be selfless and humble.
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