Parashat Balak

Parashat Balak Numbers 22:2-25:9; Micah 5:6-6:8; Hebrews 10:5-9, 31-39 In this week's Parasha, the Jewish people pass through the territory of Moav (Numbers 22:2-15). The context is that Balak, the King of Moav, wanted to wage war against the Israelites but was fearful for 2 reasons: 1. Israel had just defeated the Amorite kings Sihon, and 2. Israel’s numerical superiority Numbers 22:3-4 3 And Moab was exceedingly afraid of the people because they were many, and Moab was sick with dread because of the children of Israel. The Moabites entertained this fear even though God had forbidden Israel to attack Moab. But of course, the Moabites were unaware of this: Deut 2:9 9 Then the LORD said

PARASHAT CHUKAT

Numbers 19:1-22:1; Judges 11:1-33; John 19:38-42 The Purity Paradox In Numbers 19, the Torah gives the laws for preparing the ashes of the red heifer. The red heifer is an unusual sacrifice which was slaughtered and burned outside of the Tabernacle. Its ashes were then collected and mixed with water. The water was sprinkled in a purification ceremony which removed ritual uncleanness engendered by contact with death. Paradoxically, the preparation of the red heifer renders each person involved unclean. The priest who oversees the slaughter and the burning becomes unclean and incurs first degree impurity. The man who ignites the fire becomes unclean. The man who gathers the ashes together is r

Parashat Korach

Numbers 16:1-18:32; 1 Samuel 11:14-12:22; Acts 7:44-53 Moses and the Children of Israel kept Aaron’s staff in the ark as a testimony of God’s choice of the house of Aaron. According to Jewish legend, though, “The same staff was held in the hand of every king until the Temple was destroyed, and then it was hidden away. That same staff also is destined to be held in the hand of King Messiah.” (Numbers Rabbah 18:23) The Bible never mentions any of the kings of Judah wielding the staff of Aaron. For the kings to wield the priestly staff would seem to blur the distinctive roles of the monarchy and the priesthood. However, the staff of Aaron symbolized God’s choice of a man for office. One can ima

Parashat Sh’lach

Torah: Num 13:1-15:41; Haftarah: Joshua 2:1-24; Gospel: Matthew 10:1-14 One Law and the Gentiles The Torah says there is to be only one law for both Jews and aliens sojourning with the Jewish people. On the surface, this appears to be a simple statement, but when we dig deeper into biblical studies and interpretations, it becomes a complicated issue. Most Gentile Christians do not keep the Torah’s ritual laws: Sabbaths, festivals, dietary laws, and ritual symbols like wearing tassels, phylacteries, or putting up a mezuzah scroll on the doorpost. This does not mean that Gentile Christians are godless or even lawless. Jewish believers are certainly bound to keep the whole Torah, but Gentile be

Parashat Beha’alotch

Saturday 2 June 2018 19 Sivan 5778 Parashat Beha’alotch by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Numbers 8:1-12:16; Zechariah 2:14-4:7; John 12:1-26 In this week’s parasha Moshe reaches his lowest ebb. Not surprisingly. After all that had happened – the miracles, the exodus, the division of the sea, food from heaven, water from a rock, the revelation at Sinai and the covenant that went with it – the people, yet again, were complaining about the food. And not because they were hungry; merely because they were bored. “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt for free—and the cucumbe

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