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Torah Reflections

Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Khukat 2016

Khukat: Even Rocks Deserve Compassion

This week’s reading (Khukat), includes an incident that has been the subject of seemingly unending speculation. YHVH spoke to Moses, saying: “Take the staff and assemble the community, you and your brother Aaron; speak to the rock so they can see you so that it gives forth its water. In this way, you will bring forth water for them from the […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Korakh 2016

Korakh: For the Sake of Heaven

This week’s reading focuses on a rebellion against Moses and Aaron leadership. Korakh, the leader of band of rebels, expresses his challenge with the following words: “…Too much you have taken for yourselves! The entire community–all of them–are holy and YHVH is in their midst. Why then do you exalt yourselves over YHVH’s congregation?” (Numbers 16:3) As […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Shelakh 2016

Shelakh: What Now?

This week’s Torah portion, Shelakh (Send), opens with the Israelite poised at the border of Canaan. God instructs Moses to scout out the land, and Moses sends them off with the following instructions: See what the land is [like] land it is, and the people who inhabit it: are they strong or weak, are they few or many? And […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Beha'alotekha 2016

Beha’alotekha: Raising Light

This week’s reading, Beha’alotekha, considers various aspects of the challenges of leadership. It begins with instructions for lighting the seven-branched menorah that had been constructed for use in the mishkan/temporary sanctuary: YHVH spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and say to him: “When you light (beha’alotekha) the lamps, let the seven lamps give light toward the front of […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Naso 2016

Naso: The Middle Way

This week’s Torah portion, Naso, includes the laws pertaining to an individual who voluntarily undertakes certain ascetic practices. Such a person is called a Nazirite. The Nazirite is expected to refrain from wine and grapes, forbidden to get a haircut and must refrain from contact with the dead. These practices, typically undertaken for a set […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Bamidbar 2016

Bamidbar: The Transformation of Identity

This week’s reading opens the Book of Numbers. Both the book and the first portion are known by the name Bamidbar, which means “in the wilderness”. It opens with a census: YHVH spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Bekhukotai 2106

Bekhukotai: Finding our Way

This week’s reading, Bekhukotai, is the last one in the book of Leviticus. Much of the portion is given over to describing consequences of living in accordance with the Torah’s instructions. If we follow the instructions, pay attention to spiritual obligations and act in accordance with them (Leviticus 26:3), then we will reap benefits that include peace […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Behar

Behar: Be Like a Mountain

The name of this week’s reading, Behar, means “on the mountain.” In this case, the peak is Mt. Sinai and context is the revelation of additional instructions for sacred living. Traditional students of Torah hold that every aspect of the text has something to teach us, so it should come as no surprise that they […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Emor 2016

Emor: (Re)called to Holiness

This week’s reading, Emor, includes a description of Judaism’s annual cycle of holy days. Collectively, these occasions are known in Hebrew as mikra’ey kodesh or callings to holiness: Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: YHVH’s appointed times–you will call them callings to holiness–these are [YHVH’s] appointed times: (Leviticus 23:2) The “appointed time” include Shabbat […]

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