5 Minute Torah

Parashat Balak - Numbers 22:2-25:9

Righteousness, Seduction, & Destruction

If we were to read Parashat Balak in isolation, we would have a pretty high regard for the prophet Balaam. When Balak hires him for the task of cursing Israel, Balaam tells him flat out that he cannot go beyond what the God of Israel tells him. Indeed, each time he offers up his sacrifices and opens his mouth to speak over the Children of Israel, blessings burst forth from his mouth, rather than cursing. And at the end of the parashah he simply leaves Balak and returns home. 

Parashat Korach - Numbers 16:1-18:32

Between The Dead And The Living

Parashat Emor - Leviticus 21:1-24:23

The Relative Nearest Him

Parashat Emor begins with a problematic passage. Through Moses, God gives instructions to the priesthood prohibiting them from becoming ritually impure through corpse contamination. There are exceptions to this rule, however, and the Torah gives a list of close relatives by which a priest may allow himself to become ritually impure. This could be through either attending to the body of the deceased or merely attending their funeral, either of which would bring with it ritual contamination:

Parashat Acharei Mot-Kedoshim - Leviticus 16:1-20:27

The Four Prohibitions

After detailing the instructions for the Yom Kippur service, the parashot of Acharei Mot and Kedoshim then hit a series of seemingly unrelated topics concerning a number of different things. For the contemporary reader, particularly to those of us from among the nations, these strange regulations seem completely out of the realm our modern lives. Outside of the obvious ethical principles of forbidden sexual relationships, what possible relevance do these seemingly antiquated ritual concerns have for us today?

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