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The White Leper

This week’s double Torah portion is known as Tazria-Metzorah (Leviticus 12:1-15:33), and it focuses on an affliction known as tzara‘at (Leviticus 13:1-3).  Tzara‘at sounds identical to leprosy, but could it be something else? The traditional Jewish interpretation of the affliction known as tzara‘at is that it is not the medical disease known as leprosy. It was instead a supernatural phenomenon. Only people that committed sins against the community suffered from tzara’at. Commenting on the spiritual nature of tzara‘at, Rabbi Ovadiah Seforno (a 16th century

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Strange Fire: Following God Instead of Our Emotions

“Now Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu each took his fire pan, put fire in it, and laid incense on it; and they offered before the Eternal alien fire (eish zarah), which had not been enjoined upon them” (Leviticus 10:1). Can passion ever be a bad thing? Nadam and Abihu probably meant well when they offered a sacrifice God didn’t ask for. After their father Aaron brought His animal sacrifices to the altar, they brought fire and incense the Lord had

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Broken Bread and a Kingdom Restored: The Matzah Mindset

We are nearing the end of Pesach (Passover), the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which lasts for seven days. Matzah, unleavened bread, is one of our most potent symbols of affliction — and redemption, too. Matzah represents God’s redemption of the Jews in ancient Egypt. Matzah has a corrugated look, with dotted lines of holes running vertically alongside rows of cracked, brown pockets of dough that form peaks and valleys. The “bread” is more like a cracker, and it breaks easily. The

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The Matzah Mindset

“This is the bread of affliction that our forefathers ate in the land of Egypt…” -Deuteronomy 16:3 God ordained every Jewish holiday and custom to point us to His son, Yeshua, and Passover is no exception. In fact, Passover, also known as the “Feast of Unleavened Bread,” includes one of the most important spiritual symbols of both affliction and redemption. Who would have thought something as mundane as matzah bread could teach us so much about our life in Yeshua?

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The Power of Words & Month of Nissan

The Power of Words In Hebrew tradition, every month on the Biblical calendar is symbolic of a spiritual season. The current month, Nissan, literally means “miracle of miracles”–an apt name since this is the season in which God performed miraculous signs and wonders as a key part of our redemption from Egypt. This month is also associated with the faculty of speech. The main mitzvah or commandment of Nissan (which occurs on the Seder night) is telling the story of

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Vayak’hel Pekudei

Have you ever watched a sports event where the player with the ball refused to pass to his or her teammates? Some might call those players “ball hogs,” but more than that, they’re just poor leaders. In their refusal to share the spotlight with their team, they compromise the game’s success. We see a similar scenario in this week’s Torah portion when the leaders of the 12 Tribes failed to lead their people well as God had called them to.

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Winnie The Pooh and Purim

We are in the midst of the Purim season. This is a season where God wants to turn our sadness into gladness, our darkness to light, our heaviness to lightness, our destruction to salvation, and of course, our Eeyore into Tigger. What? God wants us to turn the Eeyore-like “oys” into Tigger-like “joys.” Let me explain.  When my sons were very young, their favorite cartoon was Winnie the Pooh. I observed the characters quite often and discovered what I call “the Eeyore Syndrome.” “Good morning

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Sparked and Still Burning: Tetzaveh

This week’s Torah portion begins with God saying to Moses,“You yourself will command the children of Israel to take pure, pressed olive oil for illumination, to kindle the lamp continually” (Exodus 27:20). Only a few precepts in the Torah are introduced by the word tetzaveh, or “command,” rather than the more commonly used words tomar, “to say,” or tedabber, “to speak.” What does this difference mean? And how is it possible to fulfill this mitzvah of kindling today when we don’t have a Temple?

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Taste and See: The Miracle at Marah

It had been nearly a month since the Israelites were set free from their slavery in Egypt. Now they were wandering in the wilderness, and they were growing disillusioned. When they ran out of water, they started to panic. God allowed this to happen in order to test the Israelites, and to teach them more about who He is. As a people, the Israelites had become dependent on the Egyptians to meet their basic physical needs. It was time for

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A Voice from On High: Yitro

Our sages disagree on the number of commandments that our ancestors heard at Sinai. Maimonides, for example, says that Israel only heard God directly speak the first two commandments. Others believe that the Jewish people heard all Ten Commandments as they were spoken by God. Which is correct? According to the famous medieval Rabbi and Torah Scholar Rashi, both! In Exodus 20:1 we read that “God spoke all these statements.” The phrase “all these statements” seems to be entirely unnecessary if God only spoke

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