WRJ's Blog

Looking for someone to blame? Well, some would say you’ve come to the right Torah portion because this week, in Acharei Mot, we meet the scapegoat. But those people would have it wrong.

We think of the scapegoat as the person or group who gets blamed for something even when it was not their mistake, fault, or misdeed. They may have not even been involved, yet they are subjected to illogical antagonism. They may be different in some way, an outsider. If it’s a group, there may be generalizations about what “they” do, how “they” think.

Think about poor Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, who...

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The first 100 days of 2019 have included unprecedented efforts by states throughout the U.S. to ban or restrict reproductive rights.

While the overall number of anti-abortion legislation introduced in U.S. states thus far in 2019 is essentially the same as in 2018, the nature of this year’s bills is more harmful and restrictive than anything we’ve seen in recent history.

Prior to this year, the primary state-level attacks came in the form of targeted regulation of...

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Pesach, or Passover, is the festival of freedom. It commemorates the Israelites exodus from Egypt and their transition from slavery to freedom. We read the Haggadah, a written guide to the Passover seder. We learn why we eat unleavened bread. We eat symbolic foods like charoset, a mixture of nuts, apples, and wine which is made into a paste to symbolize the mortar of the bricks the Israelites made. The bitter herbs such as horseradish reminds us of the pain of slavery, and the saltwater symbolizes the tears of the slaves. We not only tell the story; we consume the story. We recite the ten...

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This week’s parashah starts by saying the Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, plus their dependents. Moreover, a mixed multitude went out with them and many livestock, both flocks and herds. It ends with stating that you shall explain to your child on that day, “It is because of what Adonai did for me when I went free from Egypt.”

The text tells us in whose company the journey was made: 600,000 men. How about the women? Their omission from this figure is surprising, but it is in keeping with other aspects in the Torah. Although we...

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The parashah for this week is M’tzora (Leviticus 14:1-15:33). These passages provide instruction for purification rituals for people and homes afflicted with tzaraat (a skin condition, often identified as Leprosy). The parashah also describes male impurities resulting from a penile discharge or seminal emission and female impurities caused by a discharge of blood. Thus, this section describes one type of purification ritual as well as informs us of the ritual impurity (the lost chance to create life) men and women experience due the discharging of bodily fluids.

When there is...

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