Tag Archives: 5780

Left- and Right-Brain Judaism (Tzav 5780)

The institution of the Haftarah – reading a passage from the prophetic literature alongside the Torah portion – is an ancient one, dating back at least 2000 years. Scholars are not sure when, where, and why it was instituted. Some say that it began when Antiochus IV’s attempt to eliminate Jewish practice in the second […]

A D’var Torah by Rabbi Sacks on Vayikra in the age of the coronavirus pandemic

TRANSCRIPT – Click here to download as a PDF Friends, I’m speaking to you in isolation, from my home in London. I wanted to express our thanks to all those who are fighting on the frontline of COVID-19. The doctors, the nurses, the keyworkers, the support staff, the teachers, the people filling the shelves in […]

The Prophetic View of Sacrifice (Vayikra 5780)

Sacrifices, the subject of this week’s parsha, were central to the religious life of biblical Israel. We see this not only by the sheer space devoted to them in the Torah, but also by the fact that they occupy its central book, Vayikra. We have not had the sacrificial service since the destruction of the […]

Communities and Crowds (Vayakhel-Pekudei 5780)

Melanie Reid is a journalist who writes a regular column for The (London) Times. A quadriplegic with a wry lack of self-pity, she calls her weekly essay Spinal Column. On 4 January 2020, she told the story of how she, her husband, and others in their Scottish village bought an ancient inn to convert it […]

Moses Annuls a Vow (Ki Tissa 5780)

Featured image © Yoram Raanan Kol Nidre, the prayer said at the beginning of Yom Kippur, is an enigma wrapped in a mystery, perhaps the strangest text ever to capture the religious imagination. First, it is not a prayer at all. It is not even a confession. It is a dry legal formula for the […]

Dressing to Impress (Tetzaveh 5780)

Tetzaveh, with its elaborate description of the “sacred vestments” which the Priests and the High Priest wore “for glory and for splendour,” seems to run counter to some fundamental values of Judaism. The vestments were made to be seen. They were intended to impress the eye. But Judaism is a religion of the ear more […]

What Do We Receive When We Give? (Terumah 5780)

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Tell the Israelites to take an offering for Me; take My offering from all whose heart moves them to give” (Ex. 25:1-2). Our parsha marks a turning point in the relationship between the Israelites and God. Ostensibly what was new was the product: the Sanctuary, the travelling home for […]

We will do and we will hear (Mishpatim 5780)

Two words we read towards the end of our parsha – na’aseh ve-nishma, “We will do and we will hear” – are among the most famous in Judaism. They are what our ancestors said when they accepted the covenant at Sinai. They stand in the sharpest possible contrast to the complaints, sins, backslidings and rebellions […]

The Universal and the Particular (Yitro 5780)

The quintessential Jewish expression of thanks, gratitude and acknowledgment is Baruch Hashem, meaning “Thank God,” or “Praise be to the Lord.” Chassidim say of the Baal Shem Tov that he would travel around the little towns and villages of Eastern Europe, asking Jews how they were. However poor or troubled they were, invariably they would […]

Crossing the Sea (Beshallach 5780)

Our parsha begins with an apparently simple proposition: When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the land of the Philistines, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert […]