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Parshat Korach and Agricultural Ethics – Korach 5774

The Torah portion of Korach ends with an extensive discussion of the various tithes (agricultural taxes) that the Torah requires. The basic idea is that the Land of Israel and its agricultural products are considered holy, therefore there are special laws that apply to them. The most well known is the obligation in Biblical and Temple times to separate a percentage of the crop and give it to the Cohanim ...

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This is the Statute of the Torah

The Torah reading for this week begins with an intricate series of laws regarding purity, impurity and purification. This involved many details which appear to some to be, excessive, a complaint commonly heard about Jewish law in general. I would like to explain one idea behind all this detail: consistency. Consistency is much more difficult to achieve than one might expect. Imagine someone waking up one morning and making a firm ...

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Kaddish

I recently observed the Yarhzeit (yearly anniversary of the passing of a relative) of my mother, of blessed memory.  Part of the observance is saying Kaddish, a prayer that is said by mourners and by the prayer leader.  Kaddish  was instituted almost 2,000 years ago and is mentioned in numerous places in the Mishnah and Talmud.  Kaddish is written in Aramaic, the spoken language of the Jews in Israel and ...

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The Mitzvah of Knowing Truth

There is a popular misconception that “Judaism is not a religion of dogma” and that it makes no demands on belief.  However, it is clear from the Torah itself that there are obligations of the intellect as well as obligations of action.  In this week’s Parsha, Yitro,  we find the following, famous statements. I am the Lord your G-d, Who has taken you out of the land of Egypt, from the ...

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