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Torah

The Significance of Yom Kippur: Why We Fast and Pray on the Day of Atonement

yom-kippur

 Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Joseph Shulam. Why We Remember Yom Kippur Yom Kippur is a world-wide phenomenon and is especially prevalent in Jerusalem and all of Israel. 70% of the entire nation participates in this special appointed time by fasting. In addition, more than 50% go to some type of house of worship or synagogue. This holiday is also described and highlighted in the Torah, in the Prophets, and in the New Testament, thus emphasizing its vast importance. It is Our Duty to Observe the Day of Atonement The main purpose of…

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Parashat Vayelech: Yom Kippur: You Can Start All Over Again (If You Really Want To)

parashat-vayelech

 Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana. This Shabbat we read Parashat Vayelech. The final weekly Torah portions are read during the High Holidays, and therefore we usually combine lessons and topics related to the appointed times of Tishrei into the study of the weekly Torah portion. In a few days we will fast with all the people of Israel – the fast of Yom Kippur. In Jewish thought, this is the most frightening yet sacred day, the day of judgment. The Last Days of Moses According to Jewish tradition, the story…

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Parashat Nitzavim: The Hidden Torah and the Visible Torah

parashat-nitzavim

 Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana. This Shabbat we study Parashat Nitzavim, which is a rather short portion. In fact, all the upcoming weekly Torah portions are concise, however, the excitement builds up towards the completion and the restarting of the weekly Torah reading cycle. We, together with all the people of Israel, are excited because the holidays of Tishrei are coming up. We are just about to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, which is the first of the appointed times. The Personal Aspect of the Covenant   In Parashat Nitzavim, Moses declared…

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Parashat Ki Tavo: We are Required to Rejoice

parashat-ki-tavo

Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana. Shabbat Shalom. Our parasha opens with the commandment of the firstfruits. This commandment of bringing the firstfruits expresses, perhaps more than any other commandment, the connection of the Jewish people to their land, to the Land of Israel. The Importance of Firstfruits At the beginning of our parasha we are commanded to offer the firstfruits, the commandment consists of four main components: Bringing the firstfruits – the act of bringing your firstfruits to God. The speech that the giver of firstfruits must make. Bowing to God…

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Parashat Ki Teitzei: The Purpose of the Commandments

parashat-ki-teitzei

Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana. Shabbat Shalom. This parasha begins with a beautiful captive who becomes the wife of the captor, and ends with the command to erase Amalek. In the middle of the parasha, there is mention of the relationship between a man and his two wives, their sons, and the division of their communal property. This parasha speaks of “hashavat aveidah” (“returning lost objects”), “tza’ar ba’alei chayim” (“the ban on causing animals unnecessary suffering”), “s’char va’onesh” (“reward and punishment”), and many other commandments, some of which are simple and…

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Parashat Shoftim: Judge Every Person Favorably

parashat-shoftim

 Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana. Shabbat Shalom. Parashat Shoftim is a more “practical” parasha, whose name, “Shoftim” (“judges”), testifies to its content. The parasha deals mainly with the government, where the people in the parasha are not “private individuals” but part of a collective called the Jewish people. And as such, the people are subject to the government, and must listen to the legislators. We Are All Lawyers At the beginning of our parasha there is a famous and well-known verse: “Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not…

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Parashat Re’eh: The Bible is Not About Me, It’s About Others

parashat-reeh

 Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana. Shabbat Shalom. This Shabbat We read Parashat Re’eh. The opening of this week’s parasha indicates a choice. The people are give the choice to think for themselves. This possibility is given to the people – they can think and choose. This option is given to the city, to the community, to the family, and down to the individual. Anyone can think, anyone can choose. The Importance of Doubt In every religion, too many issues have become absolute axioms, they must not be discussed, they must not be…

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Parashat Eikev: Love or Profit? The Torah Honors Both

parashat-eikev

 Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana. Shabbat Shalom. This Shabbat we read the weekly Torah portion, Parashat Eikev. The theme that repeats itself over and over throughout Deuteronomy is the request to keep the commandments of God. Again and again Moses asks us not to turn away from the way of the Torah, not to the right or left, but to keep the Word of God with zeal. The Book of Deuteronomy as a whole contains many reasons for which we should keep the Word of God and teach our children to…

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Parashat Va’etchanan: The Secret to the Success of the Jewish People

parashat-vaetchanan

Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana. This Shabbat we learn about Parashat Va’etchanan. Parashat Va’etchanan is a Torah portion that is very rich in content. It talks about a wide range of topics centered on the Ten Commandments and the Shema Yisrael prayer. This is a very central and profound parasha. Also, this week is Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat after Tisha B’Av. In it, we read the haftara, the weekly reading from the prophets, from Isaiah chapter 40. In this reading, the prophet informs us, as a people, that we have paid…

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Parashat Devarim: Decency and Kind Behavior Should Precede Torah

parashat-devarim

 Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana. This Shabbat we start the book of Deuteronomy. In addition, this week also ends with Tisha B’Av. I’d like to discuss the weekly Torah portion, but I’d also like to talk about the destruction of the Temple and the sadness, remembrance, and repentance associated with this tragic event. The Two Meanings of the Word “Devarim” Deuteronomy differs from other books of the Torah in that it is made up almost entirely of a speech that Moses delivered to the children of Israel on the plains…

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Parashat Matot: Family Comes Before Business

parashat-matot

 Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana. This week’s Torah portion discusses the topic of war. How ironic and sad is it that we, the State of Israel, are once again entangled in territorial conflicts, especially in Gaza. History continues to repeat itself, and we find ourselves with the sword unsheathed, with a rifle in hand, with the intent of defending the citizens of Israel. The security mindset of the State of Israel is based on one need: preserving its  existence. The basic assumption is that Israel must not lose any war,…

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Parashat Pinchas: Good Jealousy and Bad Jealousy

parashat-pinchas

 Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana. This week’s Torah portion is in part, very monotonous, with a list of names and families making up the majority of the text. While at the same time, it is rather rich in content. This parasha is named after Phinehas, and his zeal which can be interpreted as jealousy, stopped the plague that had killed 24,000 people. Further on in the parasha, we encounter the census as well as the division of the land according to the tribes. We learn about the daughters of Zelophehad…

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Parashat Balak: Prophecy is Worthless Without Love

parashat-balak

 Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana. This Shabbat we read and study Parashat Balak. Balak saw the progress of the people of Israel. He witnessed that the people of Israel enjoyed the blessing of God and therefore he feared them greatly. Balak understood that the blessing over the children of Israel was from above, a spiritual blessing of strength that cannot be measured physically. Due to this, Balak, employed Balaam’s services in order to curse the people of Israel, to harm their spiritual power as well as their military victories and progress. Balak’s Infamous Blessing for the People of Israel In…

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Parashat Chukat: Yeshua Comes Before Tradition

parashat-chukat

 Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana. This Shabbat we read and study Parashat Chukat. This portion focuses on the red heifer and its ashes, which are mainly intended for the purification of those who have been made unclean by the dead, the most severe of impurities. The Israelites’ Many Complaints and the Healing Serpent After 40 years in the desert, we see the Israelites starting to draw near into entering the Land of Israel, and at the same time departing from the desert and from a life of wandering. They were even…

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Parashat Korach: A Call to Sacrifice for the People of Israel

parashat-korach

 Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana. This Shabbat we learn about Parashat Korach (Korah). Who exactly was Korah? He was a prominent figure from the tribe of Levi; one of the leaders of the people of Israel. In addition, he challenged Moses regarding his leadership and Aaron’s election to priesthood. Our weekly Torah portion describes a very severe rebellion by Korah and 250 of his men, against Moses and Aaron. Korah and his men actually accused Moses and Aaron of appointing themselves to their positions: “…And now you also want to…

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Parashat Shelach Lecha: A Call to Preserve the Jewish Identity at All Costs

parashat-shelach-lecha

 Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana. This Shabbat we read and study the weekly Torah portion, Parashat Shelach Lecha. From our portion, we read about the Israelites and how they spent 40 years wandering in the desert. If you stop and think about it, they were on the verge of entering into the Promised Land. The Israelites were close enough to send out spies and prepare to conquer the land. They thought that in just a few more days, they were finally going to be able to make it. However, shortly after that, the sin of the…

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Parashat Behaalotecha: Who is the True Keeper of Israel, God or the IDF?

parashat-behaalotecha

 Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana. Our Torah portion begins with discussing the menorah, which has become an important symbol of Judaism. In fact, it also serves as the symbol of the State of Israel. The olive branches to the right and to the left symbolize the desire for peace. In addition, they are based on this passage from our haftara (the prophetic reading of the weekly Torah portion): “He asked me, ‘What do you see?’ I answered, ‘I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and…

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Parashat Naso: God’s Blessing is for This Life

parashat-naso

 Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana. This week’s Torah portion is particularly long and dense and deals with a wide variety of subjects. It begins with the building of the camp and the organization of the tribes. Later on, it discusses how a husband should deal with his wife when he is suspicious of unfaithfulness. It also touches on the bitter water test, the laws of the Nazirite, as well as the well-known Priestly Blessing. The Priestly Blessing The Priestly Blessing is a special blessing that is recited daily in every…

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Parashat Bamidbar: The One Thing People are Willing to Die for

parashat-bamidbar

 Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana. This Shabbat we read Parashat Bamidbar. The name of the weekly Torah portion is determined by the first word that appears in it, so too is the name of the five books of the Torah. The name is determined merely by the first word appearing in it, and not necessarily according to the content. The Hebrew name, Bamidbar, means “in the desert”: “The Lord spoke to Moses in the tent of meeting in the Desert of Sinai…” – Numbers 1:1 [NIV] The English name for it…

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Parashat Bechukotai: Our Job is to Bear Fruit in the Community

parashat-bechukotai

 Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana. This week we conclude the book of Leviticus. We began it with an explanation of the different types of sacrifices. After that, God taught us about the sacrificial service in the Tabernacle, which later will become the sacrificial service used in the Temple. We continue on to the dedication of the Tabernacle, which was followed by the national trauma of the death of Aaron’s two sons, the chief priests of Israel. From there, the book continues to instruct the people of Israel on the laws…

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