5 Minute Torah

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.

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. 

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.

Shelach

Numbers 13:1-15:41

Nasso

Numbers 4:21 - 7:89

Babies. Isn't that what naturally comes to your mind after reading this week's Torah portion? Confused? Let me explain.

This week's reading contains an unusual ritual, the testing of the sotah (the wayward wife). This is a strange and even fantastical ritual, quite foreign and bizarre to the modern mind. To the modern ear it appears to be more akin to alchemy than biblical instruction. It goes like this: 

Bamidbar

Numbers 1:1-4:20

Bechukotai

Leviticus 26:3-27:34

Behar

Leviticus 25:1-26:2

Parashat Behar begins, "The LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying..." We get the name of the parashah from this opening line. The word behar, in Hebrew, means "on the mountain." But why do we need to know this information? Didn't all of the commandments and instructions given by Moses originate at Sinai when he was given the Torah in its entirety? Why hasn't the Torah reiterated this fact prior to our current reading? Why do we need to be reminded of this obvious fact? 

Emor

Leviticus 22:1-24:23

Kedoshim

Leviticus 19:1-20:27

This week's Torah reading begins with God's telling Moses that they are to be holy:

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy." (Lev. 19:1-2)

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