5 Minute Torah

Eating Elephants (Kosher Ones, That Is)

Parashat Va'etchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11)

Have you ever been overwhelmed at what seemed like an impossible task? We can respond to this in one of two ways. The first is to give up without even trying, because we instantly know that we will not be able to complete the task. The alternative, however, is to get our minds off of the impossibility of the task and onto the responsibility at hand. If we focus on the immediate requirements of the task and work our hardest on what we can do, then we might accomplish more than we realize.

Faith & Disbelief

Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22)

In our Torah portion this week, Moses begins by giving a brief overview of the last forty years of the Children of Israel’s journeys in the wilderness. One of the first events he brings to their attention is the evil report about the Land, and how that report put fear into their hearts, keeping them from entering the Land as the LORD intended. He makes a point to remind them that, because of this one event, all of God’s plans for them were put on hold and they had been suffering the consequences of this for the last forty years:

The Laws of Inheritance

Parashat Massei (Numbers 33:1-36:13)

A Lesson of Priorities

Parashat Mattot: Numbers 30:2[1]-32:42

Now the people of Reuben and the people of Gad had a very great number of livestock. And they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, and behold, the place was a place for livestock. (Numbers 32:1)

The Bulls of Our Lips

Parashat Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1)

This week's portion covers a variety of topics: the reward of Pinchas, a new census of the Israelites, a case of inheritance in regard to the daughters of Zelophehad, the succession of Joshua, and then the next two chapters is a series of laws regulating the types of offerings that were to be brought to the Holy Temple for various occasions. This last section is what I would like to draw our attention to.

Looking for Loopholes

Parashat Balak - Numbers 22:2-25:9

The portion of Balak is filled with supernatural interactions between God and a Gentile prophet by the name of Balaam. From our portion, Balaam appears to have been renowned for his spiritual acumen, and seems to have a close relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yet in the end we find that he is dead set on destroying the Children of Israel. How did this come about? Let's take a brief look at Balaam's mistake.

Divine Reversals

Parashat Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1)

This week's Torah portion contains one of the least understood passages in all of the Scriptures. In the beginning of our portion we have the instructions for the parah adumah—the red heifer—whose ashes are mixed with water to create the singular source of ritual purity for specific conditions described within the Torah. For example, it is only by the water mixed with the ashes of the red heifer that corpse contamination could be negated. 

The Test of Humility

Parashat Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32)

If you've read this week's Torah portion, you already know that the story of Korah is a sad one. But there are many important lessons we can learn from the story of Korah. The primary, and most obvious lesson we can learn from Korah's mistake is in regard to humility. However, a deeper understanding reveals that his lack of humility stemmed from his disregard for mishchah, distinction. Let's explore this further.

The Eyes of the Heart

Parashat Shelach (Numbers 13:1-15:41)

The Big Picture

Parashat Bamidbar - Numbers 1:1-4:20

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