Between Us

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A weekly message from Federation’s CEO, Steven A. Rakitt

  • Between Us: Let’s talk about humility

    This week’s portion, the first in the Book of Numbers, is called Bamidbar. The English title of this book comes from the census taken of the Israelites as commanded to Moses in this parasha. In Hebrew, the portion’s title means “in the wilderness,” an apt description of the spiritual and physical place in which the Jews
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about being ready

    This week’s double parasha, Behar-Bechukotai, finishes up the Book of Leviticus. We are told repeatedly of the choice between following God’s commandments and disobeying. With the former, we will live well; the latter choice will lead to disaster. Some reject the notion of cause and effect in following the commandments and their lot in life. After all,
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about portability

    This week’s parasha, Emor, focuses on the laws regulating the lives and sacrifices of the priests and the set times of the Jewish calendar for the Sabbath, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the Pilgrimage Festivals of Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot. “These are My fixed times…which you shall proclaim as sacred occasions,” underscores the importance of time
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about respect

    This week’s double parasha is Acharei / Kedoshim.  The concepts covered are considered by many commentators to be equal to the Ten Commandments, since laws of the Torah that regulate interpersonal human behavior are found here. These laws form the basis for an orderly society, establishing trust between the powerful and the weak, the rich
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about welcoming

    This week’s double parasha, Tazria-Metzora, deals with skin diseases and the priestly procedures involved in checking for them, assessing them, declaring the sufferers healed and reintegrating the latter into the community. They are very difficult portions, filled with what we might today call “superstitions.” Viewed carefully, however, the readings offer insight into the role of the priest
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about making distinctions

    This week’s parasha is Sh’mini in the Book of Leviticus. There are two main themes which, at first, do not appear to be connected.  We read of how the priest Aaron and his sons become purified to do God’s work, and then we learn about the laws of kashrut and which animals we are permitted—and not
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about gaining through sacrifice

    This week’s parasha is the first portion of the Book of Leviticus. Vayikra – “and God called” – appears somewhat archaic with its focus on the gory details of different types of animal sacrifice. But upon deeper reading, we glean several important lessons for modern-day behavior. For example, while we translate the Hebrew word korban as “sacrifice,”
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about building through action

    This week’s Torah portion stands in stark contrast to last week’s story, in which we witnessed the Israelites’ greatest act of disloyalty to God: building and worshipping a Golden Calf. In the double parashot of Vayakhel-Pekudei, we read of the great devotion and loving commitment by each person (kol ish) in building the tabernacle according to
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about heroes

    More than 175 years ago, Scottish-born philosopher Thomas Carlyle published “Heroes and Hero Worship,” a set of lectures he gave in 1840, arguing that individuals, not history per se, are the real reasons for human advancement. These specific individuals, whom Carlyle called “Heroes,” played outsized roles in the world’s advancement. Heroism – and hero worship
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  • Between Us: Let’s talk about humility

    “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” – C.S. Lewis This week’s parasha, Tetzaveh, is distinguished not by what it contains, but rather, what it omits. Interestingly, Moses’ name appears in every parasha chronicling his life from birth to death – except for this week’s portion. Commentators reflect on a
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