Parshah Columnists

Guest Columnists
When Saying Nothing Is the Right Thing to Say
I tried to explain to my friend how people react to grief and mourning differently. Looking back, I wish I could take back my words. In a misguided attempt to make her “feel better” or “fix the situation,” I was negating her emotions.
Wedding Speeches for Shemini
Nutrition in the News: Is It Kosher?
So we’ve come to realize the subtle but potentially dire effects on our food, but do we ever consider our food’s spiritual “profiles”? Does the food or drink that we consume affect us on a spiritual plane, on a soul level, influencing our character and natural tendencies?
Is It All About Getting Spiritually High?
Our natural human desire to get close to G-d sometimes leads us to pursue methods of religious ecstasy. Yet our human desire to be close to G-d may well be at odds with G-d’s divine desire to be close to us.
The Mitzvot You Don't Enjoy
Do you prefer some parts of Judaism over others? What do you do about the unexciting parts?
The Festivals Are a Great Equalizer
Even the uninformed are regarded as “pure” during the major festivals. Why?
Can Kosher Make Sense?
The distinction between the permitted animals and the forbidden animals raises a question that has occupied many commentators.
Are You an Ox Jew or a Fish Jew?
Judaism isn’t only for the spiritual-minded or for those who more easily connect to the experience.
A Silence That’s More Than Words
Self-recrimination and senseless regret only compound the inevitable pain.
Torah Insights
The Secret Symbolism of the Calf and Goat
While the calf immediately evokes the story of the golden calf, finding the meaning of the goat is a bit harder.
Happy and Sad at the Same Time
The holy Zohar states, “Weeping is lodged in one side of my heart, and joy is lodged in the other.”
The Paradox of Eight
When we encounter the number eight in the Torah, the Torah is alerting us that the topic we are discussing is one that transcends the natural expectation.
For Friday Night
And Aaron Was Silent...
The power to be silent at certain moments of life and of history is an important strength.
Moments of recognition of the Divine. Gentle, almost imperceptible. But real.
Kosher Inside
There is the personal spiritual dimension of the kosher laws. The idea that some animals are kosher – which literally means "fit" and suitable – and others are not, tells us something about ourselves.
Weekly Torah
Earthen Vessels
There is an interesting distinction made in Jewish law between different types of utensils.
Dwarves on Giants' Shoulders
Life's Passages
Nutrition in the News: Is It Kosher?
So we’ve come to realize the subtle but potentially dire effects on our food, but do we ever consider our food’s spiritual “profiles”? Does the food or drink that we consume affect us on a spiritual plane, on a soul level, influencing our character and natural tendencies?
What’s Kosher About a Pig?
The physical symbols of kosher animals represent spiritual characteristics.
Weekly Sermonette
Just Do It
As they say in Yiddish, Apetit kumt mit'n essen. (Trust Jews when it comes to food)
Siblings in Synch
Cain killed Abel in a fit of jealousy. The enmity between Isaac and Ishmeal endures to this very day. Jacob and Esau. Joseph and his brothers. Finally, we have Moses and Aaron...
Why We Keep Kosher
I often joke that if the kosher laws were for health, then all the rabbis should look like Schwarzenegger!
Why Is Swine So Reviled?
Why single out the poor pig? Halachically, a cheeseburger is actually “worse!”
Parshah Insights
Fins and Scales
Inner Stream
Don’t Blame Yourself
Don’t feel guilty. You meant well, and that in itself deserves credit.
The Eighth Truth
Grieving and Joy?
What the Rebbe Taught Me
Peace Through Peace
Moses brought the Torah down to earth, but Aaron brought G‑d down to earth. Why was only Aaron's invitation for G‑d to dwell on earth accepted?
The Alt-Neu (Old-New) Jew
Lessons on Torah commentary and Jewish creativity on the topic of applying the ancient to the contemporary.
Parshah Blog
When Moses Consoled Aaron
In the cold night of Aaron's despair, having disastrously lost his two sons, Moses offered a platitude—when, given his unimaginable loss, Aaron needed comfort.
Living through the Parshah
When Aaron Got Cold Feet
Aaron was eighty-four years old, a venerable sage and a dedicated leader. He’d been primed for his role as high priest and had rehearsed the sacrificial procedure for seven days. Why the cold feet?
Does Very Religious Mean Very Uptight?
Isn’t religion just another way to feel safe?
Parshah Musings
A Tale of Two Extremes
Is this the culmination of our becoming a nation? Instead of sitting and basking in the presence of G‑d, we're expected to leaf our way through a description of scavenging beasts!
What Do You Think?
Will Climbing Mt. Everest Get Me Closer To G‑d?
Many have been led to believe that spirituality translates as “shunning the physical and living an ascetic existence.” The further people distance themselves from worldliness, the closer they are to the divine. Judaism has a very different opinion on the matter . . .
Afraid? Good!
It was precisely because Aaron did not seek power or prestige that he was chosen to a position of leadership. Now try telling that to our wannabee politicians…
The Mysterious Life and Death of Nadab and Abihu, Sons of Aaron
Nadab and Abihu are mentioned briefly in Scripture as two men who came too close to G-d and died in the Tabernacle under mysterious circumstances.
Reflections on the Parshah
Strange Fires
The "strange fire" brought in to the sanctuary by Aaron's two sons can be easily identified in many of today's sanctuaries too.
Un-Kosher Kindness
Why is a "kind" bird included amongst the forbidden fowl?
Parshah Moment
The Greatest Memorial
The most eloquent Holocaust Memorial I've ever seen? Survivors dancing at their grandchildren's weddings and great-grandchildren's bar mitzvahs
Parshah Parenting
Food for Growth
What emotional or spiritual profile would you like to build in yourself?
The Freeman Files
What is the Jewish View on Martyrdom?
I know that there are religions in which it's a great thing to die for your faith, and doing so makes you a saint or gets you a ticket to paradise. What is the Jewish view? Is a person supposed to die for his beliefs?
Two Questions About Kosher
It would be absurd to think that G-d gave us the Torah as a sort of bandage for His mistakes. "Oops! I didn't mean to put those nasty animals there! People might eat them! What do I do now?"
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.
Holy Lunch
Have you ever closed a deal, celebrated your marriage (or its anniversary), or simply spent time with a good friend—without eating something together? Why do our teeth, gullet and stomach figure so prominently in who, how, where and with whom we are?
More Parshah Articles
All About Kosher: How-To Wizards, Guides, Essays and Stories
What is kosher? How to keep kosher? What does it mean? All that and more, including stories, essays, videos and classes.
Covenant & Conversation
Fire – Holy and Unholy
Religion is not what the European Enlightenment thought it would become: mute, marginal and mild.
Reticence vs. Impetuosity
It should have been a day of joy. But tragedy struck.
Beyond Speech
On the Haftarah: Serve G‑d With Joy
For the haftarah of Parshat Shemini, From the Teachings of the Rebbe
As the Aron proceeded, David danced and leaped before G‑d. His wife Michal, daughter of King Saul, saw what he was doing and was displeased.
The Inner Meaning of Split Hooves and Chewing the Cud
You should nt just be going through the motions of love and fear superficially, but it should truly affect you to the core.
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