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Torah Reflections

Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Beha'alotcha

Naso: Channeling Blessing

This week’s Torah portion begins with additional instructions for the Israelites’ sojourn in the wilderness. It closes with the assembly and consecration of the mishkan/portable sanctuary and the presentation of the first offerings. In the middle of all of this, the kohanim/priests are instructed to bless the people on God’s behalf, using a formula known […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman| Bamidbar

Bamidbar: Holy Schlepping

With this week, we begin the Book of Numbers, known in Hebrew as Bamidbar/In the Wilderness. The first portion focuses on instructions for the forty-year wilderness journey. A census is taken and each tribe is assigned a specific location relative to the Mishkan/portable sanctuary where they are to camp, and they are travel in the same formation. […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman|Othering

Emor: Othering

I begin the process of writing these commentaries by reading the upcoming week’s Torah portion to see what calls to me. Occasionally, a single verse will jump out at me, independent of its context. That’s what happened this week. Emor (Leviticus 21:1-24:23) covers a lot of territory: rules for priests, the festival calendar and punishments for various transgressions. […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Akharei Mot-Kedushim

Akharei Mot-Kedoshim: Scapegoats

This week’s Torah portion (Leviticus 16:1-20:27) includes a detailed description of the rituals conducted by the High Priest on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). In most synagogues, selected passages are also read during Yom Kippur morning services. The High Priest’s activities include what has come to be known as the scapegoat ritual: And he [Aharon, the High Priest] is to take […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Tazria-Metzora

Tazria-Metzora: Lost in Translation

As much as I love Torah, there are parts of the text from which I recoil. This week’s reading is one of them. Tazria-Metzora focuses on tzara’at (a “plague” that affects skin, walls and fabric) as well as other circumstances that result in ritual impurity. These include seminal and other discharges for men, and menstruation and childbirth for women. I […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Food for Thought

Shemini: Food for Thought

I write most of these commentaries at my favorite coffee shop. The coffee is fresh and delicious and the atmosphere is warm and friendly even at 6:00 AM. It’s a great spot for meeting friends and colleagues, and its the the perfect “office” for laptop-toting entrepreneurs like me. But the main reason I love Rise Up Coffee Roasters is […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Tzav

Tzav: As Without, So Within

This week’s Torah portion is a continuation of the instructions for offerings that began with last week’s reading, and so presents similar challenges to the modern commentator. It’s no easy thing to create spiritual meaning from such dry and dated material. Commentators have long looked to the structure of the portable sanctuary known as the […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Vayikra

Vayikra: Drawing Near

This week we begin the Book of Leviticus, known in Hebrew as Vayikra/And He Called.  The book is also known as Torat Kohanim/Instruction for (or by) Priests. The first part of the book is addressed primarily to the priests and the second half is, for the most part, directed to the people. Vayikra is, for most people, the […]

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Rabbi Naomi Hyman | Vayakhel/Pikudei

Vayakhel-Pikudei: Wise Hearts

In this week’s reading, the Israelites turn to the task of building the Mishkan according to God’s plan. They are called upon to donate building material and to take on the responsibility for constructing the various components of this portable sanctuary. One particular phrase is repeated so often that even a cursory reading of the Hebrew will make […]

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