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The Holy Altar of Table Fellowship

Rabbi Shimon said: If three have eaten at one table and have not spoken over it words of Torah, it is as though they had eaten of the sacrifices of the dead, for it is written (Isaiah 28:8) “All tables are covered with filthy vomit; no place is clean.” But if three have eaten at one table and have spoken over it words of Torah, it is as if they had eaten from the table of God, for it is written (Ezekiel 41:22) “He said to me, ‘This is the table that stands before the LORD.’ ” (m.Avot 3:4)

Earliest Recorded Corporate Jewish Prayer

I was recently listening to a lecture on "The Origins of Jewish Prayer" by Rabbi Adam Mintz, and it was amazing to hear him work to piece together multiple rabbinic texts such as the Mishnah, Talmud, and even Ben Sira in an attempt to build a case that corporate Jewish prayer (particularly liturgical prayer) existed prior to the Middle Ages when the first siddurim were made available.

Parashat Tetzave - Exodus 27:20-30:10

After giving instructions for making the oil for the Temple menorah, parashat Tetzave is primarily focused on the consecration of the kohanim (priests). This consecration includes how the priestly garments, particularly those of the Kohen Gadol (high priest), are to be tailored. The garments of the Kohan Gadol were to be unique in every way. One garment in particular, the ephod, was to be made of a special combination of various materials:

Parashat Mishpatim - Exodus 21:1-24:18

Although Parashat Mishpatim is just over three chapters in length, it contains over fifty of the six hundred and thirteen commandments. It is densely packed with various commandments, particularly those involving civil issues. There’s a problem, however, with the application of these commandments if we are attempting to follow a literal reading of the text. Here is an example:

Echoes Of The Heart

Rabbi Chananiah ben Teradion said: If two sit together and no words of Torah are interchanged between them, theirs is the session of the scornful, as it is written (Psalm 1:1) “Nor sit in the seat of scoffers.” But when two sit together and words of Torah pass between them, the Divine Presence rests between them, as it is written (Malachi 3:16) “Then those who revered the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD took note and listened, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who revered the Lord and thought on his name.” (m.Avot 3:3)

Parashat Yitro - Exodus 18:1-20:23

This week’s parashah is one of the most pivotal in terms of human history. In this parashah, the Creator of the Universe begins to reveal Himself in a manner previously unknown to mankind. It is the pinnacle of the Exodus, and the very reason He delivered His people from Egypt. Hashem delivered the Children of Israel from the bondage of Pharaoh in order to bring them to this moment. It was on Mount Sinai that the Lord called Moses and commissioned him to lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt. And now it was from Sinai that God would reveal Himself and His divine will to His people.

Parashat Beshalach - Exodus 13:17-17:16

Don’t Pray. Just obey.

Aren’t we supposed to pray about everything? Shouldn’t we pray before doing anything? After all, Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Why wouldn’t we pray about everything we do? This week’s parashah offers an interesting insight into a very good reason why prayer might not always be the best thing for our situation.

Sefaria Announces Free Online Talmud

If you haven't heard of Sefaria.org, then you are missing out. This is one of the best free resources on the net for Jewish texts. They have everything from the Biblical text, the Mishnah, various midrashim, halachic and liturgical texts, mystical texts, and MUCH MORE. A lot of the texts are only available in Hebrew, but many are being made available in English as well. Their newest addition to their family of freely available texts is the entire text of the Talmud (both the Bavli and the Yerushalmi) in both Hebrew and in English!

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