Finding the midpoint in the Torah has long been a matter of considerable debate. Some scholars say the middle of the Torah falls in this portion, Parashat Tzav. But the answer to the question, where is the middle of the Torah, depends on many mathematical, theological, and phylosophical factors.
The Torah reading for Chol HaMo-eid Pesach includes the 13 Attributes of God. The Eternal One passes before Moses and proclaims (according to the prayer book version of the passage): “Adonai, Adonai, a God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, extending kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, and granting pardon” (Mishkan T’filah, [NY: CCAR, 2007], p. 496). Here, God self-describes as an ethical being.
We begin our parashah in the fortieth, and thus, final year of Israel's desert trek toward the Promised Land. The people are encamped on the eastern side of the Jordan River, opposite Jericho.
Parashat Mas’ei is the concluding reading from the biblical Book of Numbers and is filled with a wealth of historical detail. This year, the Shabbat on which we read Mas’ei comes at the beginning of month of Av.
I must confess that I do not have a great sense of direction. Thankfully, my new GPS offers me three choices of routes every time I enter a destination. In addition, I can customize my route based on whether I want to take highways or wish to avoid busy roads.
When a bush aflame with a divine summons called Moses to the redemptive task, he tried to decline the charge with this demurral: "Please, O God, I have never been a man of words, either in times past or now that you have spoken to Your servant..." (Exod.
As has been noted by many commentators, the Book of Deuteronomy, Devarim, constitutes a retelling or, perhaps more precisely, a "second telling" of many of the events and much of the teaching encompassed in the forty years of the ancient Israelites' Exodus experience.