Category Archives: Uncategorized

Chukkat-Balak (Numbers 19:1 – 25:9)

A double portion. Chukkat: purity, death, water, 38 years in 87 verses. Balak: a worried king, a puffed-up sorcerer, a talking ass (literally), and a nasty ending. Comments are based on 2016-Chukkat and 2017-Balak. Chukkat starts with the laws of … Continue reading

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Korach (Numbers 16:1 – 18:32)

What happens when winning is the goal, and truth doesn’t matter? Demagogue: NOUN (Lexico.com) 1 A political leader who seeks support by appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by using rational argument. ‘a gifted demagogue … Continue reading

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Shelach (Numbers 13:1 – 15:41)

How about a nice, uplifting Torah reading? Sorry, not this week. By the end of our previous Torah portion, everyone had become seriously cranky: Israelites, Moses, Aaron, Miriam, the Lord.  While everyone is now behaving, the underlying issues haven’t been … Continue reading

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B’Haalotekha (Numbers 8:1 – 12:16)

I really think the first part of this week’s reading is placed there as a delaying tactic, so we can put off reading how the Israelites behaved on the march. Anyhow- There are still some items to deal with before … Continue reading

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Naso (Numbers 4:21-7:89)

Note: Since Shavuot is only one day in Israel, Naso was read last week there. Comments are from 2018, with a 2020 addendum to my hair history. Suspected adultery! Hair*! Samson!  All this and more this week! *Scroll past the … Continue reading

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Shavuot (Exod. 19:1-20:23, Num. 28:26-31, Deut. 14:22-16:17)

Shavuot (“weeks”) is one of the three harvest festivals, like Sukkot and Pesach, thus a major holiday. But it is often downplayed to the point of forgetfulness. It’s much shorter than its companion festivals, only 2 days long (1 for … Continue reading

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Bamidbar (Numbers 1:1 – 4:20)

You may have noticed that my retirement activities, at least in plague-free times, have essentially nothing to do with my past employment as a research chemist and patent agent.  My classes at the local branch of the Osher Lifelong Learning … Continue reading

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Behar-Behukkotai (Leviticus 25:1 – 27:34)

This week, we finish Leviticus. Stop cheering.  There was a lot of good stuff there, and the Numbers narrative can be a real downer. We start this double portion with the sabbatical (shmitta) and jubilee (yovel) years.  The land gets … Continue reading

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Emor (Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23)

What day of the week is it? More on that later. Among those who habitually attend synagogue services, especially those who read the weekly portion from the Torah scroll, parts of Emor bring about a sense of déjà vu.  That’s … Continue reading

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Acharei Mot – Kedoshim (Lev. 16:1 – 20:27)

(Comments from 2018, slightly edited. I found Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ comments, quoted at the end, particularly insightful.) This week: Sex and holiness. Acharei Mot (Lev. 16:1-18:30) is the first part of this double portion and means “after the death of,” … Continue reading

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