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Judaism (from the Greek Ioudaïsmos, derived from the Hebrew יהודה, Yehudah, "Judah") is the religion of the Jewish people, based on the principles and ethics embodied in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), as further explored and explained in the Talmud. Judaism is among the oldest religious traditions still practiced today and is considered one of the world's first monotheistic faiths. At the core of Judaism is the belief in a single, omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent God, who created the universe and continues to govern it. In 2007, the world Jewish population was estimated to be 13.2 million people—41 percent in Israel and the other 59 percent in the diaspora. The traditional criterion for membership in Judaism or the Jewish people has been being born to a Jewish mother or taking the path of conversion.
Jewish tradition maintains that the history of Judaism begins with the Covenant between God and Abraham (c. 1800 BCE), the patriarch and progenitor of the Jewish people. According to the traditional Jewish belief, God also created another covenant with the Israelites (the ancestors of the Jewish people), and revealed his laws and commandments (Mitzvot) to them on Mount Sinai in the form of the Written Torah. Traditional Judaism also maintains that an Oral Torah was revealed at the same time and, after being passed down verbally for generations, was later transcribed in the Talmud. Laws, traditions, and learned Rabbis who interpret these texts and their numerous commentaries comprise the modern authority on Jewish tradition. While each Jew's level of observance varies greatly, the traditional practice of Judaism revolves around the study and observance of God's Mitzvot.
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The Acra was a fortified compound in Jerusalem of the 2nd century BCE. Built by Antiochus Epiphanes, ruler of the Seleucid Empire, following his sack of the city in 168 BCE, the fortress played a significant role in the events surrounding the Maccabean Revolt and the formation of the Hasmonean Kingdom. It was destroyed by Simon Maccabeus during this struggle. The exact location of the Acra, critical to understanding Hellenistic Jerusalem, remains a matter of ongoing discussion. Historians and archaeologists have proposed various sites around Jerusalem, relying mainly on conclusions drawn from literary evidence. This approach began to change in the light of excavations which commenced in the late 1960s. New discoveries have prompted reassessments of the ancient literary sources, Jerusalem's geography and previously discovered artifacts. Yoram Tsafrir has interpreted a masonry joint in the southeastern corner of the Temple Mount platform as a clue to the Acra's possible position. During Benjamin Mazar's 1968 and 1978 excavations adjacent to the south wall of the Mount, features were uncovered which may have been connected with the Acra, including barrack-like rooms and a huge cistern. (Read more...)
The Rhodes blood libel was an 1840 event of blood libel against Jews, in which the Greek Orthodox community accused Jews on island of Rhodes (then part of the Ottoman Empire) of the ritual murder of a Christian boy who disappeared in February of that year. Initially the libel garnered support from the consuls of several European countries, including the United Kingdom, France, the Austrian Empire, although later several supported the Jewish community. The Ottoman governor of Rhodes broke with the long tradition of the Ottoman governments (which had previously denied the factual basis of the blood libel accusations) and supported the ritual murder charge. The government arrested several Jewish subjects, some of whom were tortured and made false confessions. It blockaded the entire Jewish quarter for twelve days.
The Jewish community of Rhodes appealed for help from the Jewish community in Constantinople, who forwarded the appeal to European governments. In the United Kingdom and Austria, Jewish communities gained support from their governments. They sent official dispatches to the ambassadors in Constantinople unequivocally condemning the blood libel. A consensus developed that the charge was false. The governor of Rhodes proved unable to control the local fanatical Christians and sent the case to the central government, which initiated a formal inquiry into the affair. In July 1840, that investigation established the innocence of the Jewish community. Finally, in November of the same year, the Ottoman sultan issued a decree (firman) denouncing the blood libel as false. (Read more...)
||And those who have knowledge of your name will put their faith in you; because you, Lord, have ever given your help to those who were waiting for you.
The Weekly Torah portion in synagogues on Shabbat, Saturday, 13 Adar II, 5774; March 15, 2014
"Such are the rituals of the burnt offering, the meal offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering, the offering of ordination, and the sacrifice of well-being." (Leviticus 7:37.)
God told Moses to command Aaron and the priests about the rituals of the sacrifices (korbanot in Hebrew). The burnt offering (’olah) was to burn on the altar until morning, when the priest was to clear the ashes to a place outside the camp. The priests were to keep the fire burning, every morning feeding it wood. The meal offering (mincha) was to be presented before the altar, a handful of it burned on the altar, and the balance eaten by the priests as unleavened cakes in the Tent of Meeting. On the occasion of the High Priest’s anointment, the meal offering was to be prepared with oil on a griddle and then entirely burned on the altar. The sin offering (chattat) was to be slaughtered at the same place as the burnt offering, and the priest who offered it was to eat it in the Tent of Meeting. If blood of the sin offering was brought into the Tent of Meeting for expiation, the entire offering was to be burned on the altar. The guilt offering (asham) was to be slaughtered at the same place as the burnt offering, the priest was to dash its blood on the altar, burn its fat, broad tail, kidneys, and protuberance on the liver on the altar, and the priest who offered it was to eat the balance of its meat in the Tent of Meeting. The priest who offered a burnt offering kept the skin. The priest who offered it was to eat any baked or grilled meal offering, but every other meal offering was to be shared among all the priests. The peace offering (shelamim), if offered for thanksgiving, was to be offered with unleavened cakes or wafers with oil, which would go to the priest who dashed the blood of the peace offering. All the meat of the peace offering had to be eaten on the day that it was offered. If offered as a votive or a freewill offering, it could be eaten for two days, and what was then left on the third day was to be burned. Meat that touched anything unclean could not be eaten; it had to be burned. And only a person who was clean could eat meat from peace offering, at pain of exile. One could eat no fat or blood, at pain of exile. The person offering the peace offering had to present the offering and its fat himself, the priest would burn the fat on the altar, the breast would go to the priests, and the right thigh would go to the priest who offered the sacrifice. God instructed Moses to assemble the whole community at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting for the priests’ ordination. Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward, washed them, and dressed Aaron in his vestments. Moses anointed and consecrated the Tabernacle and all that was in it, and then anointed and consecrated Aaron and his sons. Moses led forward a bull for a sin offering, Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the bull’s head, and it was slaughtered. Moses put the bull’s blood on the horns and the base of the altar, burned the fat, the protuberance of the liver, and the kidneys on the altar, and burned the rest of the bull outside the camp. Moses then brought forward a ram for a burnt offering, Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the ram’s head, and it was slaughtered. Moses dashed the blood against the altar and burned all of the ram on the altar. Moses then brought forward a second ram for ordination, Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the ram’s head, and it was slaughtered. Moses put some of its blood on Aaron and his sons, on the ridges of their right ears, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. Moses then burned the animal's fat, broad tail, protuberance of the liver, kidneys, and right thigh on the altar with a cake of unleavened bread, a cake of oil bread, and a wafer as an ordination offering. Moses raised the breast before God and then took it as his portion. Moses sprinkled oil and blood on Aaron and his sons and their vestments. And Moses told Aaron and his sons to boil the meat at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting and eat it there, and remain at the Tent of Meeting for seven days to complete their ordination, and they did all the things that God had commanded through Moses.
Hebrew and English Text
Hear the parshah chanted
Commentary from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University (Conservative)
Commentary from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (Conservative)
Commentary by the Conservative Yeshiva
Commentary by the Union for Reform Judaism (Reform)
Commentaries from Project Genesis (Orthodox)
Commentaries from Chabad.org (Orthodox)
Commentaries from Aish HaTorah (Orthodox)
Commentaries from the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (Reconstructionist)
Commentaries from My Jewish Learning (trans-denominational)