Simply, for Rambam the number 14 (2x7) was his favored organizing principle.
By now Moses had given 612 commands to the Israelites. But there was one further instruction he still had to give, the last of his life, the final mitzvah in the Torah: “Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be My witness against the people of Israel” (Deuteronomy 31: 19).
The more we learn about the psychology of bereavement and the stages through which we must pass before loss is healed, so more the wisdom of Judaism’s ancient laws and customs becomes ever more clear.
The last two commands of the Torah, mentioned in this week's parsha-Hakhel and the command to write, or at take part in writing, a Sefer Torah-are about renewal, first collective, then individual.
Abraham and Holocaust survivors shared the commitment to first building the future and only then allowing themselves to remember the past. That is what Abraham did in this week’s parsha.
Why the binding? Why put Abraham and Sarah through the agony of thinking that the son for whom they have waited for so long is about to die? We cherish what we wait for and what we most risk losing.
Tanach, the Hebrew Bible, is remarkable for the extreme realism with which it portrays human character. Its heroes are not superhuman. Its non-heroes are not archetypal villains. The best have failings; the worst often have saving virtues. I know of no other religious literature quite like it.
As soon as we read the opening lines of Terumah we begin the massive shift from the intense drama of the exodus with its signs and wonders and epic events, to the long, detailed narrative of how the Israelites constructed the Mishkan.
God’s “name” is therefore His standing in the world. Do people acknowledge Him, respect Him, honor Him?
Jewish history isn't just Jews enduring catastrophes but renewing themselves after every disaster
he first 11 chapters of Genesis teach us many fundamentals of faith; Exodus to Deuteronomy is about revelation and redemption. But what are Genesis 12-50 about?
At the center of the mosaic books is Vayikra. At the center of Vayikra is the “holiness code” (chapter 19) with its momentous call: “You shall be holy because I, the Lord your G-d, am holy.” And at the centre of chapter 19 is a brief paragraph which, by its positioning, is the apex, the high point, of the Torah:
When we cry from the heart, someone listens; When we cry on Yom Kippur, God hears us.
In the sanctuary, the specific domain called “the holy” is where we meet God on His terms, not ours. Yet this too is God’s way of conferring dignity on mankind.
Sharing influence is like lighting a candle with another: it doesn't mean having less; you have more
Truthfulness is a fundamental value in Jewish yet truth isn't its highest value. Peace is. Why so?
Like our bodies, our souls were not made for sitting still. We were made for moving, learning, searching, striving, growing
Never be in too much of a rush to stop and come to the aid of someone in need of help. Rarely, if ever, will you better invest your time. It may take a moment but its effect may last a lifetime
Judaism is less a philosophical system than a field of tensions – between universalism and particularism, for example, or exile and redemption, priests and prophets, cyclical and linear time, and so on.
Judaism believes it’s a religious duty to teach our children to ask questions.
The negotiation between Moses and the tribes of Reuven and Gad is a model of conflict resolution.
The challenge that emerges from the way the Torah describes taking a census is that we must “lift people’s heads.” Never let them feel as if they are merely a number. Make those you meet feel important, especially the people whom others tend to take for granted.
How do we come to know that “God is in this place”? “By ve’anokhi lo yadati – not knowing the I. ”We sense the “Thou” of the Divine Presence when we move beyond the “I” of egocentricity. Only when we stop thinking about ourselves do we become truly open to the world and the Creator.
The name Bezalel was adopted by the artist Boris Schatz for the School of Arts and Crafts he founded in Israel in 1906, and Rav Kook wrote a touching letter in support of its creation. He saw the renaissance of art in the Holy Land as a symbol of the regeneration of the Jewish people in its own land, landscape and birthplace. Judaism in the Diaspora, removed from a natural connection with its own historic environment, was inevitably cerebral and spiritual, “alienated.”
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you fail. Such is life.