Torah Commentary

Joining God as Resident Strangers in the World

May 25, 2019Rabbi Ben Spratt

The American poet T.S. Eliot wrote:

Hikers reach up toward the sky

And now you live dispersed on ribbon roads,
And no man knows or cares who is his neighbor
Unless his neighbor makes too much disturbance,
But all dash to and fro in motor cars

The Sound of Shofar: Leading Us to Revelation and Freedom

May 28, 2016Elyse Goldstein

Count off seven sabbath years — seven times seven years — so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. (Leviticus 25:8-10)

In this week's portion, the Jubilee year is established. Called yovel, our parashah explains how every forty-nine years — seven weeks of seven years — in the seventh month, on Yom Kippur, the shofar of freedom is to be sounded throughout the land for all its inhabitants. This iconic verse to proclaim freedom throughout the land is inscribed on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

For God's Sake

May 10, 2014Robert Tornberg

Parashat B'har begins in a very unusual way. "The Eternal One spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai: Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: . . ." (Leviticus 25:1-2). Since the Book of Exodus, we have come to

Walking and Standing

May 4, 2013Dalia Marx

It is not obvious that the compilers of the Torah chose to finish the third book of the Torah with a set of blessings and curses. A similar section of blessings and curses, yet much longer, is found at the

B'har for Tweens

October 23, 2012

We complete the book of Leviticus this week with the combined portions B'har and B'chukotai. These chapters present a vision of a society guided by God-given principles of human freedom, human dignity and concern for the most vulnerable in society