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Behar-Bechukosai - (Vayikra/Leviticus 25:1-27:34)
The default mode of creation is set out in the opening verses of parashat Bechukotai: a world of blessings in which all our possible needs and wants are seen to and tended to by G-d. But in order to attain this default mode of creation, man needs to do a reset, by heeding these words which precede the blessings: "If you follow My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them." The ball is in our court!

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Emor - (Vayikra/Leviticus 21:1-24:23)
Parashat Emor, in its entirety, from its rules concerning the fitness of kohanim, to its roster of the annual festivals and holy days, and right to the commandment to kindle the golden menorah and place freshly baked show-bread upon the golden show-bread table, and concluding with the incident of the blasphemer, is a lesson in how we are to live our lives, day by day, in the presence of G-d in the world.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Acharei Mot-Kedoshim - (Vayikra/Leviticus 16:1-20:27)
'You shall be holy, for I, HaShem, your G-d, am holy.' What does it mean to be holy? How are we to achieve it as individuals? And how are we to achieve it as a nation?

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Tazria-Metzora - (Vayikra/Leviticus 12:1-15:33)
The spiritual illness of tzar'at, which is physically manifest in the flesh, clothing and walls of a person's house, is a painful, but ultimately loving reminder by G-d of our common humanity, and of Torah's plan that we all live as brothers, respectful and sensitive to one another.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Shemini - (Vayikra/Leviticus 9:1-11:47)
On the very same day that G-d sends fire down from heaven to consume the inaugural offerings in the Tabernacle, He instructs Israel to eat only certain animals which are clean, and to not eat animals which are unclean. Why? By adhering to Torah's dietary rules we renew our ascent from Egypt every day, with every morsel.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Tzav - (Vayikra/Leviticus 6:1-8:36)
G-d calls upon us to draw closer to Him, and commands us as to how to do so. The book of Leviticus opens with a call to Israel to draw closer by bringing offerings. Only when we have decided to do so do the commandments enumerated in this week's parashat Tzav, (literally, "command"), kick in.

The same applies for the Korban Pesach, the Passover offering. It is a declaration of independence for the nation of Israel, but as such is only effective when we wholeheartedly choose to perform G-d's commandment.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Vayikra - (Vayikra/Leviticus 1:1-5:26)
As parashat Vayikra opens, G-d whispers in man's ear, 'I believe in you. I believe in you and your ability to fulfill your destiny as the crown of My creation. The korbanot (offerings) in the Tabernacle are your way to draw near to Me.'

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Vayakhel-Pekudei - (Shemos/Exodus 35:1 - 40:38)
Generous hearts, wise hearts, uplifted hearts, Torah's emphasis on details, observing Shabbat, the building of the Tabernacle and the conclusion of creation are all part of the love story between G-d and Israel that begins and concludes the book of Exodus.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Ki Sisa - (Shemos/Exodus 30:11-34:35)
The vast, sprawling soul-scape that is Ki Tisa, in all its myriad facets, points to one irrefutable fact of life: Without the infinite, endless presence of G-d in our lives every moment of every day, we are nothing. The age of information in which we live and the ever changing technology that enables us to possess more and more and more... are but a golden calf if we can't see G-d through the sound and fury of our own self-certainty.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Tetzaveh - (Shemos/Exodus 27:20-30:10)
"It's a bird, it's a plane..." no, it's just the Kohen Gadol, ordinary mortal but super-hero, nonetheless, serving G-d in the Holy Temple. With the powers vested in his priestly vestments, the integrity which fills his heart and his unfettered love for his brethren and for all humanity, the kohen serving beside the altar in the Holy Temple is the embodiment of every virtue and act of courage portrayed by modern fictional super heroes.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Terumah - (Shemos/Exodus 25:1-27:19)
Parashat Terumah records the moment in which G-d officially invites man to welcome His Presence into our world. "Build for Me a sanctuary." Are we up for it? Do we have it in our hearts to give just a little of ourselves for so much in return? Do it for Me, G-d says, "and I will dwell among them." Dare we answer no? Dare we answer yes?

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Mishpatim - (Shemos/Exodus 21:1-24:18)
We can liberate ourselves by recognizing that G-d is all there is and that all the world belongs to Him. The lofty ideals and transcendent experience of the Sinai revelation need to be translated into action and transformed into a "G-d conscious consciousness" that informs and animates our every thought and deed.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Yisro - (Shemos/Exodus 18:1-20:23)
The Mount Sinai was a sensory bending experience in which the entire nation of Israel stepped beyond their physical limitations of perception, and experienced G-d's revelation directly through the 'ears' and 'eyes' of their souls. The potential for the very same beyond-sensory-perception of G-d in our lives awaits all who are willing to challenge their own self-imposed and societal limitations.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Beshalach - (Shemos/Exodus 13:17-17:16)
Post-parting of the Sea of Reeds depression nags the children of Israel, as they question whether G-d is still with them, just days after the greatest miracle in history leaves them giddy with prophecy. The cure, they learn, is not in the reliving of past heights, but in embracing the day, with all its bitter-sweet reality.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Bo - (Shemos/Exodus 10:1-13:16)
Blood on the lintel and the doorposts was not a sign intended to aid G-d in sparing His children Israel from the plague of the first-born, but a sign for all those who performed the Passover offering as G-d commanded, protecting them from the destroyer within.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Va'eira - (Shemos/Exodus 6:2-9:35)
The ten plagues that made G-d's name known in all the world happened many years ago in the land of Egypt. The process they began of bringing the knowledge of G-d's presence and power to all humankind for all generations continues till today. They resound and reverberate every time a Pharaoh arises and says "I do not know Hashem."

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Shemos - (Shemos/Exodus 1:1-6:1)
The name which G-d tells Moshe to reveal to the children of Israel as the name of G-d who has sent him to redeem them, is a name which beckons from beyond the horizon, a name of constant becoming, a name which will transform and shape the children of Israel even as they pursue it, to the end of time.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Vayechi - (Bereishis/Genesis 47:28-50:26)
Sometimes G-d speaks to us in the thunder, sometimes in a 'still small voice.' Sometimes G-d blesses us with the answer we are seeking in a panic-filled nano-second of darkness and disconnect, and sometimes G-d answers us through the united hearts and voice of our children.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Vayigash - (Bereishis/Genesis 44:18-47:27)
To be in the moment, to live life in its fullest at any given moment one must recognize G-d's presence in every moment. When Yosef and Binyamin wept on one another's necks they were living in the moment with G-d, even as their thoughts were traversing the generations.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Mikeitz - (Bereishis/Genesis 41:1-44:17)
Yosef wasn't a saint who was immune to the same temptations that we all struggle with. He was, however, a tzadik - a righteous man - who was able to overcome his own potential for downfall by staying focused on who he was - a son of the Hebrews - and the plan that G-d had assigned him to fulfill in life.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Vayeishev - (Bereishis/Genesis 37:1-40:23)
Yosef inherited his father's spiritual make-up and also possessed the physical presence to stand up to and defeat the way of Esau and his descendants, being the living 'flame' to Esau's 'stubble.' Yosef's spiritual flame is the very flame that kindles the Chanukah lights which drive out the darkness of Yavan!

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Vayishlach - (Bereishis/Genesis 32:4-36:43)
When Yaakov is about to reenter into the land of Israel he has a nighttime encounter with a mysterious stranger, an angel to be precise, whose identity is shrouded in the very dust their struggle kicks up. But it is not the identity of the angel that we need to know, but the identity of Yaakov/Yisrael, that is of import to us, and our own identities, in the light of his eternal wrestlings with G-d and man: "Your name shall no longer be called Yaakov, but Israel, because you have commanding power with- G-d and with men, and you have prevailed."

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Vayeitzei - (Bereishis/Genesis 28:10-32:3)
Why was it so urgent for Yaakov to stop at that specific place at that specific moment as he was fleeing from his brother's murderous wrath? Why did G-d warp time and space to make it happen? What happens when our path intersects with G-d's will?

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Toldos - (Bereishis/Genesis 25:19-28:9)
The struggle between Yaakov and Esav, which began whilst still in the womb, is an eternal struggle between two nations, between goodness and evil, between light and darkness, between a nation that is open to G-d's truth and lives by and teaches that truth, and a nation willing to stoop to whatever subterranean level necessary to deny that truth and prevent its recognition in this world. The festival of Chanukah, which occurs later in this new month of Kislev, celebrates an essential victory of good over evil in this generational struggle.

Even within our own selves this battle is fought, and material temptations constantly arise, attempting to deter us from assuming our responsibility as the children of G-d.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Chayei Sarah - (Bereishis/Genesis 23:1-25:18)
Old age, the blessing of wisdom conferred upon one who has lived his life with love and kindness towards others, a true recognition of G-d's presence in the world, is a gift for all of us to acquire, thanks to Avraham, who beseeched G-d to grant him old age and the wisdom to recognize the sublime beauty with which his beloved wife Sara lived her life.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Vayeira - (Bereishis/Genesis 18:1-22:24)
Avraham dedicated his entire life to sharing the good news that there is One G-d in the world, and that all we have comes from Him. Avraham sought out wayfarers and passers-by, invited them in, showered them with kindness and insisted that his guests give thanks only to G-d, Creator of the world.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Lech Lecha - (Bereishis/Genesis 12:1-17:27)
Avraham wasn't just the biological ancestor of the nation of Israel. He wasn't merely a migrant seeking a new land. And his name wasn't simply chosen out of a hat by G-d to receive the commandment of lech lecha - "go for yourself" - on a journey. Avraham was the world's first and greatest iconoclast and revolutionary, completely upending the way things were and introducing a new, and an ever new and ever renewing way of understanding and living life with the intimate knowledge of and personal acquaintance with the One G-d.

Avraham sought G-d, and G-d took him in: into the land, into G-d's covenant, and into G-d's heart.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Noach - (Bereishis/Genesis 6:9-11:32)
"Noach was a righteous man he was perfect in his generations... " Much ink has been spilled over the centuries trying to determine what Torah really intended by that qualifying phrase, "in his generations." An expression of praise? Derision? Perhaps it meant just what it said, no more, no less: Noach was a righteous giant, the right man at the right time, true to his own potential, worthy of G-d's affection, the rescuer of all flesh, and the father of all who have followed.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.


Bereishis - (Bereishis/Genesis 1:1-6:8)
Do you believe that G-d created the world? If you do, then this points to something much more significant: You believe in yourself, your importance to the G-d who created you, and your responsibility to conduct your life in accordance to the spark of the Divine with which G-d has entrusted you.

by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.



 


 
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