All posts by Stephen Hazan Arnoff

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By the People and For the People

Parshat Ki Tissa: Exodus 30:11-34:35 This week’s Torah portion, Ki Tissa, suggests two poles of leadership, a useful model for election season or any time. The reading begins with a call to order for the entire Israelite enterprise. Everyone is asked to make a contribution of one half-shekel as “enrollment” in the community, a kind of head tax to fund core services represented by the Tent of Meeting. The Tent… Read Article →

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I and I

Jacob’s struggle in this week’s Torah portion is framed by revelations about the meanings embedded in places and names. Nothing surprising there — who gives a name, what that name means and how a place becomes known for the transformative moments occurring upon it, all define much of the biblical story. Vayishlach begins with our hero on the run. Recall that Jacob emerges from his mother Rebekah just moments after… Read Article →

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Leviticus: Keeping Holiness Simple

For centuries, formal Jewish study began not with Genesis, the first book of the Hebrew Bible, and not with the Mishna, the first codex of lived Jewish law, but with Leviticus, also known as Torat Kohanim, or the Book of Priests. While focusing in many sections, like last week’s portion of Emor, on practices and obligations of the priestly class, Leviticus addresses all Israelites as a “nation of priests” whose… Read Article →