A ‘Bissel’ of Torah: BECHUKOTAI (LEVITICUS 26:3-27:34)

By Joy Scott, Am Haskalah Congregant   The final parsha in the book of Leviticus, Bechukotai, begins with stunning clarity of the terms of Jewish life under the covenant. In the first part, there is an idyllic picture of the blessing of Divine favor. If the Israelites follow God’s decrees and keep His commandments, there […]

A ‘Bissel’ of Torah: BEHAR (LEVITICUS 25:1-26:2)

By Joy Scott, Am Haskalah, Congregant   This week, we read parsha Behar, the penultimate portion of Leviticus. The primary themes of Behar are laws and commandments pertaining to freedom, equality and charity with ‘dignity’. The Lord spoke to Moses and said: “Tell the Children of Israel, you may sow your field for six years, […]

A ‘Bissel’ of Torah: EMOR (LEVITICUS 21:1-24:3)

By Joy Scott, Am Haskalah, Congregant   This week’s Torah parsha, Emor, begins with God saying to Moses: “Speak to the Kohanim, and say that none of them can become defiled, impure, or ceremonially unclean by touching a dead person, unless the one who died is a wife or a blood relative”(1). The requisite for […]

A ‘Bissel’ of Torah: KEDOSHIM (LEVITICUS 19:1-20:27)

By Joy Scott, Am Haskalah Congregant   This week’s Torah parsha, Kedoshim, begins with the momentous call: “You shall be holy because I, the Lord, your God am holy”(1). This statement is followed by repetition of dozens of ‘Divine’ commandments, which would enable the Israelites to consecrate their holy relationship with God. This parsha is […]

A ‘Bissel’ of Torah: ACHAREI MOT (LEVITICUS 16:1-18:30)

By Joy Scott, Am Haskalah Congregant   This week, we read Acharei Mot, which has the primary focus of the ancient rituals of Yom Kippur, the ‘Day of Atonement’. During the period of the Mishnah (i.e. the first major redaction of the Oral Torah) in the second century, the Jewish calendar was altered so that […]

A ‘Bissel’ of Torah: METZORA (LEVITICUS 14:1-15:33)

By Joy Scott, Am Haskalah Congregant   Last week, we read parsha Tazria, which introduced us to the bizarre malady of ‘Tzara’at.’ In effect, this was considered physical evidence of a spiritual failing, disclosed in a myriad of dermatological disorders. The mystery shrouding parsha Tazria was the absence of any specific transgression, or identification of […]

A ‘Bissel’ of Torah: TAZRIA (LEVITICUS 12:1-13:59)

By Joy Scott, Am Haskalah Congregant   This week’s Torah parsha, Tazria, is extraordinary not for its content, but for its absence of content. Tazria has been labeled “the Torah parsha least likely to be studied”(1). It has also been accused of having “challenged and confused generations of Torah scholars, as well as legions of […]

A ‘Bissel’ of Torah: SHEMINI (LEVITICUS 9:1-11:47)

By Joy Scott, Am Haskalah Congregant   For several weeks and many chapters – the longest prelude in the Torah – we have read of the preparations for the moment at which God would bring His Presence to rest amid the people. Five Torah parshiot (Teruma, Tetzaveh, Ki Tisa, Vayakhel, and Pekudi) all describe the […]

A ‘Bissel’ of Torah: TZAV (LEVITICUS 6:1-8:36)

By Joy Scott, Am Haskalah Congregant   The primary theme of last week’s Torah parsha, Vayikra, pertained to the five diverse sacrifices which the Israelites presented at the Sanctuary. On the surface, this week’s parsha, Tzav, appears to be merely an extension of Vayikra, differentiated solely by the focus shifting to the kohanim, who were […]

A ‘Bissel’ of Torah: VAYIKRA (LEVITICUS 1:1-5:26)

By Joy  Scott,  Am Haskalah Congregant   This week’s Torah parsha, Vayikra, is the first parsha in the Book of Leviticus, known formally as ‘Torat Kohanim’ (Instructions for the Priests) (1). The title, Vayikra, defines the entire Book of Leviticus: “and He called”. We have just completed reading the thrilling and dramatic story of the […]