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Pik-Nathan

Rabbi Steven Pik-Nathan

Rabbi Steven Pik-Nathan

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Shabbat and Holiness This week's parashah is the first parashah in the Torah, Bereshit. We are all familiar with the story of the creation that we read in these chapters of the Torah. However, the narrative still ...
"Be a Blessing" The parashah begins with God's call to Avram (his name won't be changed to Avraham until later) to "Go forth from your land, from your kindred, from your father's house, to ...
The destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah This week's parashah is Va'yera. Within its verses we find some of the most familiar, and troubling, stories in the Torah. For Va'yera contains within it the stories of the Akeidah (the ...
Bound Faith This week's parashah, Va'yera, contains such an abundance of material that it is difficult to decide what to discuss. It begins with the visit of the messenger- angels who tell Abraham that Sarah ...
The Life of Sarah This past March I had the wonderful opportunity to co-lead an interfaith Jewish / Roman Catholic tour of Israel sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Southern New Jersey and the Catholic Diocese of Camden. ...
Connecting with the Divine This week's parashat is Va'yetze includes the well-known story of Jacob's dream. After fleeing from his brother Esau, Jacob finds a place to rest and while sleeping he has a dream. In ...
The Legacy of Yisrael In this week's parashah, Vayishlah, Jacob is reunited with his brother Esau some 20 years after stealing their father Isaac's blessing. As he spends the night alone in preparation for the fateful meeting he ...
Wrestling with ..... (This week's parashah, Vayishlah, tells the story of the reuniting of Yaakov and Esau, which is preceded by Yaakov's night-long wrestling encounter on the banks of the Jabbok with a mysterious man/angel. ...
Joseph, Part 1 This week's parasha, Vayeshev, begins the Joseph saga. This amazing story comprises a full four Torah portions -- more than the stories of any of the prior patriarchs or matriarchs. This seems strange at first ...
On Being Ready This week's parashah, Vayeshev, is the beginning of the story of Joseph. Though Joseph is not considered among the patriarchs (that designation is limited to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) his story encompasses almost the ...
Judah (This d'var torah/original midrash is based on the content of last week's parashah, Vayigash (the reunion of Joseph with his brothers and later with Jacob) and this week's parashah, Vayhi (Jacob'...
Birthright and Brotherhood This week's parashah, Vayhi, brings to a close the book of Bereshit/Genesis. In this chapter all that has been wrong is made right. Or has it? Yes, Joseph and his brothers all reunite. ...
Jacob's Final Dream (This d'var torah/original midrash is based on the content of last week's parashah, Vayigash (the reunion of Joseph with his brothers and later with Jacob) and this week's parashah, Vayhi (Jacob'...
To Know This Shabbat we begin the book of Shemot with Parashat Shemot. In the beginning of the parasha we read: "A new king arose over mitzrayim (Egypt) who did not know Joseph. And he said ...
Why Slavery? This week is Parshat Shemot. It begins the saga of slavery and redemption that we remember each year at the time of Passover, as well as now during the Torah reading cycle. The narrative opens ...
Speaking vs. Listening In this week's parashah, Vayera, the conversation between God and Moses continues. God gives Moses further instructions on how to bring about the people's redemption. However, Moses seems a bit reticent. He claims ...
What's in a name? "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet!" So wrote William Shakespeare centuries ago in "Romeo and Juliet." Today's ...
Humility vs. Humiliation This week's Torah portion, Bo, includes the final three plagues brought against Pharaoh and Egypt as well as the first Passover seder meal (observed by the Israelites as the horror of the tenth plague ...
The Singing of the Oppressed This week's parashah includes one of the most familiar images in the Torah, that of the crossing of the Sea of Reeds (or Red Sea, depending on one's translation). How fortuitous that this ...
Words of God The week's parashah, Yitro, takes its name from the opening line which states "And Yitro (Jethro) father-in-law of Moses heard all that God had done to Moses and to Israel his people, that ...
The Gift of Freedom The Parasha this week is Mishpatim, considered the beginning of what is called the "Book of the Covenant." Portrayed as being instructed by God to Moses while still on Mount Sinai, the Book ...
Approaching Torah This week's parashah, Mishpatim, is the continuation of the events that occurred at Mount Sinai. As you may remember from last week's d'var Torah, many classic interpretations are based on the principle ...
The Golden Calf and the Mishkan This week's parashah, Terumah, begins the section where God gives Moses the instructions on how to build the Mishkan/Dwelling Place - the portable sanctuary that will follow the people through the desert.It seems ...
Connecting the Ner Tamid and Amalek This week's Parasha, Tetzaveh, is also known as Shabbat Zakhor (remembrance). This Shabbat, which falls just prior to Purim, gets its name from the special portion from the Torah that is traditionally read as ...
Why Moses Did Not Become a Priest This week's parashah, Tetzaveh, begins with God commanding Moses "And as for you, you shall instruct the Israelites to bring you pure olive oil of beaten olives for lighting, for kindling the Eternal ...
Two Sides of the Golden Calf This week's parashah, Ki Tisa, includes the narrative of the Golden Calf. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, according to rabbinic tradition the incident of the calf is contiguous with the giving of ...
Reconstructing the Prohibitions of Shabbat In this week's parashah, Vayakhel, as we near the conclusion of Shemot (which will take place next Shabbat), we read of Moses relaying God's instructions to the people concerning the building of the ...
Shadows This week's parashah is Pekudey, the final portion in the book of Shemot (Exodus). In this parashah we read of the actual construction of the Mishkan (tabernacle) and the anointing of Aaron and his ...
Structure This week we begin reading the third book of the Torah, Vayikra/Leviticus. The parashah is also called Vayikra, as the first parashah of each of the five books of the Torah takes the name ...
Olah, Zevach Shelamim and Iraq As I write this d'var Torah I couldn't help but wonder how I might connect this week's parashah, Tzav, to the war in Iraq. The parashah is a continuation of the details ...
Strange Fire ... a Midrashic Reconstruction on Nadav and Avihu The parashah this week is Shemini. Instead of a traditional d'var Torah I am sharing with all of you an original midrash I wrote about Nadav and Avihu. These two sons of Aaron, the ...
Tzara'at and Impurity This week's parashah, Tazria, is the first of two parshiot dealing with issues of skin afflictions, purity and holiness. Tazria (which in non-leap years is paired with the next parashah, Metzora) describes how Aaron ...
Finding Healing in Separation This week's parashah is Metzora. In this parashah we continue the laws concerning the person with tzara'at (skin afflictions) that began last week. We were informed in the last parashah, Tazria, that the ...
Ethical Mitzvot Kedoshim is one of a series of three parashiot whose focus is the development of societal norms and the creation of what has come to be called the Holiness Code. The name of the parasha ...
Wholiness Parashat Kedoshim begins with Leviticus 19:1 and is referred to as the "holiness code." It begins with the verse "God spoke to Moses, saying: speak to the entire community of the Children of ...
Walking in God's Ways This week's parashah, Behukotay, is the final parashah in the book of Vayikra. In this parashah God tells Moses to inform the people if they "walk with my statutes and observe my mitzvot (...
Nachshon ben Aminadav At first glance this week's parashah, Bemidbar, seems rather tedious. After all, it consists mainly of the names of the heads of all the tribes and how the counting of the first census in ...
Miriam This week's parasha is Beha'aloteha One of the most fascinating, but often forgotten, parts of this narrative involves Moses and his siblings Aaron and Miriam. We read in Chapter 12, verse 1 that "Miriam ...
The Reminder of Tzitzit The parasha this week is Shelah-Lekha. In this parasha Moses, at God's command, chooses one leader from each of the twelve tribes to serve as spies. Their mission is to enter the land of ...
Leadership This week's parasha is Korah. It takes it's name from that of Moses' fellow from the tribe of Levi, Korah, who attempted to lead a rebellion against Moses. Korah led the rebellion because ...
Destruction and Creation This week's Torah portion begins with the rebellions of Korach, Dathan, Aviram and their followers. These three tribal leaders question the authority of Moses and end up being swallowed up by the earth.The ...
Egalitarianism This week's parasha is Pinhas. Towards the beginning of the parasha we read the story of the daughters of Zelophehad. After Moses instructs the people on the division of the Promised Land once they ...
"Rav Lakh" The book of Devarim consists of three major farewell speeches that Moses makes to the people as they prepare to enter the Land of Canaan and he prepares to die. Though Moses has known for ...
Ownership of Property, Returning Lost Property This week's parashah, Ki Tetzey, contains the greatest number of mitzvot/ commandments of any Torah portion. The 72 mitzvot found in the parashah focus on everything from the treatment of captives, defiant children, lost animals ...
First Fruits This week's parasha, Ki Tavo, includes within it a description of the intricate ritual the people were to engage in once settled in the Land of Israel. Moses commands them to place in a ...
Choose Life This week's parasha is the double portion Nitzavim/Vayeleh. At the beginning of the parasha Moses tells the Jewish People, "You stand this day, all of you, before the Eternal your God . . . to ...
Why on earth are we here? Why on earth are we here? You may think I'm joking, or perhaps just trying to wake you up from your slumber. Well, in part perhaps I am. But seriously, I am asking the ...
Circles and Cycles: The Never-Ending Cycle of the Jewish Year Last month we celebrated Purim with joy and abandon. This week we rejoice in freedom and redemption with a mixture of celebration and serious contemplation. As we sat at the seder table this past week ...
The Blessing of Brothers Finally Without warning The day arrives For which he has Longed      Dreaded Waiting      Feared He ...

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