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Parsha Lab by Aleph Beta

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Ep.22 Parshat Chukat: Why Do We Need A Red Heifer?

In Parshat Chukat, we read the laws surrounding the Red Heifer — the rare cow whose ash is used to purify those who stood too close to a corpse. But what is the reason for this unique ritual? Why do we need the ash of a red cow to be purified? Join Rabbi Fohrman and Daniel Loewenstein as they re-examine the text of the Red Heifer and discover a striking reference to the Garden of Eden — and never think about Parshat Chukat the same way again.


Ep 21. Parshat Korach: Where did The Rebellion Start?

In Parshat Korach, there’s a sudden rebellion against Moses and Aaron. Korach, the leader of the rebellion, argues that all Israelites are holy, not just Moses and Aaron. But where did his distrust of Israel’s leaders come from? Join Rabbi Fohrman and Ami Silver as they re-examine Korach’s family origin, which is recorded in the text, and see how his upbringing may have played a significant role in the rebellion -- and never think about Parshat Korach the same way again.


Ep 20. Parshat Shelach: Spies. Conspiracies. And the Two Men Caught In The Middle — Sound Familiar?

In Parshat Shelach, we read the story of the spies who ventured to the land of Israel and brought back a false report to the Israelites. But there’s something very strange about their report. Aside from being inaccurate, it’s strikingly similar to another story we’ve heard. A group of twelve men, ten of whom committed a terrible sin and two of whom were innocent — sound familiar? Join Rivky and Beth as they re-examine the text of the spy story — and never think about Parshat Shelach the...


Ep.19 Parshat Beha’alotecha: Is it the Beginning of the End?

In Parshat Beha’alotecha we complete the Mishkan story that started in the middle of Exodus and is completed all the way into this portion of Bamidbar. Finally, the children of Israel are ready to embark on their journey to the Holy Land with the Mishkan - God’s dwelling place - by their side. But their journey quickly takes a turn for the worse as the saga of the desert experience begins to fester with complaints, regrets, and slander. Is this the beginning of the end? What will become of...


Ep 18. Naso: What Are The Unique Laws of Sotah Really About?

Parshat Naso introduces us to one of the oddest laws in the Torah, the laws of the Sotah -- a woman suspected of adultery by her husband. If the woman chooses to defend her honor, she is able to partake in an ancient ritual where the Kohen makes her drink tampered water. If she’s telling the truth, nothing happens and she’s rewarded with children. But if she’s lying, she has a traumatic reaction to the water and she’s killed. What is the basis for this strange law and where did the...


Ep 17. Bamidbar: Is the “Book of Numbers” A Good Translation for “Bamidbar”?

Parshat Bamidbar is the first Parsha in the book of Bamidbar. Strangely enough, the names our Sages give to the Books of Torah often don’t line up with the Hebrew. Case in point, the Sages call Bamidbar “Sefer Hapikudim,” or the Book of Numbers. But what do numbers have to do with Bamidbar? Sure, the Israelites are counted in the beginning, but why is the whole book called Numbers? Is there actually a theme being presented in the title? And for that matter, are all of the Sages' titles...


Ep 16. Behar-Bechukotai: Shemittah, Yovel and… Mount Sinai?

This week’s double parsha, Behar-Bechokotai, focuses on the agricultural cycles of Shemittah and Yovel. Strangely enough, the language here carries echoes of some of the themes of last week’s parsha, and even seems to take us all the way back to Mount Sinai. Are these ideas somehow connected? What could the revelation at Sinai have to do with agricultural laws in the land of Israel? Join Rivky Stern and first time co-host Ami Silver as they explore these fascinating connections and the...


Ep 15. Emor: What Does the Omer Offering Have To Do With the Jewish Holidays?

In Parshat Emor, we read through the laws and details of the Biblical holidays. But this section also includes a few other laws - like the Omer offering, and agricultural laws like Pe’ah and Leket. Why are those laws included with the Jewish holidays? Join Rabbi Fohrman and Rivky as they re-examine the Emor text, and discover its subtle shared language with a few other texts of the Torah — and never about Parshat Emor the same way again.


Ep 14. What Does Yom Kippur Have To Do With Megillat Esther?

In Acharei Mot, we learn about the priest’s Yom Kippur service in the Tabernacle. But there’s something very interesting about the language used to describe this section — it’s strikingly similar to the story of Megillat Esther. What does Yom Kippur -- with its themes of repentance and closeness to God -- have to do with Esther? Join Rabbi Fohrman and Rivky as they re-examine these two texts, and never think Acharei Mot or Megillat Esther the same way again.


Ep 13. What Does Childbirth Have In Common With Leprosy?

In this weeks double parsha, Tazria-Metzora, we learn about the different ways that one can became “tamei,” spiritually impure -- such as giving birth, to someone who has contracted leprosy. But how do these radically different ways of becoming tamei actually connect? Are we meant to believe that the miracle of birth is similar to a plague of deformity? Join Rabbi Fohrman and Imu as they reexamine the text of this weeks parsha, and find thematic connections to explain how these strange...


Ep 11. Tzav: What Does The Mincha Offering Teach Us About Passover?

We learn in Tzav that one is not allowed to mix Chametz with the sacrificial Mincha offering. But what does the Mincha offering have to do with Chametz? Or by extension, Passover? Join Imu and Rivky as they re-examine the offering text and learn the deeper meaning behind Chametz — a symbol of over-processing and separation from the creator — and never think of the Mincha offering, and Chametz, the same way again.


Ep 10. Vayikra: Is It More Than Just Laws About Korbanot?

We learn in Vayikra about the laws of the Korbanot — sacrifices to God. But there’s something very difficult about studying Vayikra. It can be incredibly boring. There’s no storyline, just a lot of very specific rules. So, how can we approach Vayikra in a more engaging way? Join Rabbi Fohrman and Imu as they reexamine the two narratives surrounding Vayikra — the story of God’s cloud directing the Israelites — and discover a new narrative, with insights about how to become closer to God.


Ep 9. Vayakhel-Pekudei: What Do the Tabernacle and Creation Have In Common?

We learn in Vayakhel-Pekudei about the appointment of Betzalel as the architect of the Tabernacle. But there’s something very striking about the language describing this appointment. It sounds eerily similar to the language in the Creation story. What do Betzalel’s appointment and creation have in common? Join Rabbi Fohrman and Imu as they explore the commonalities between God creating the world for man and man creating the Tabernacle for God, and never think about Betzalel’s appointment...


Ep7. Tetzaveh: What Do the Laws of Choshen Mishpat Teach Us About Our Relationship To God?

We learn in Parshat Tetzaveh about the specific laws relating to the Kohen Gadol’s Breastplate — the Choshen Mishpat. But why should we care about these esoteric and seemingly inapplicable laws? Join Rabbi Fohrman and Imu as they take a look back at Parshat Mishpatim and find an intriguing relationship to the laws of the judges. You’ll never think of Choshen Mishpat the same way again.


Ep6. Terumah: What's So Special About The Tablets?

We learn in Parshat Terumah that the tablets of the 10 Commandments have a central place in the mishkan, the Tabernacle. But why? A clue might come from the Torah's constant use of the word "edut," testimony, and "moed," a place of meeting. Come join Rabbi Fohrman and Imu as they puzzle it out.


Ep5. Mishpatim - The Ten Commandments… The Sequel?

This week, Imu guides Rabbi Fohrman into the myriad of laws of Mishpatim. He points out some subtle connections - both in theme, and in language, between these laws and the Ten Commandments, we just heard last week, and asks, why? Why is there a replay of the Ten Commandments?


Ep3. Beshalach - Why Is God Testing The Israelites?

When the people first enter the wilderness, God withholds test the people? In fact, this idea of God "testing" the nation shows up in every single story of this parsha! What is God really testing, and why test the people? In this podcast, Rabbi Fohrman and Imu Shalev discuss this pattern, and try to get to the bottom of the subtle connection between these stories.


Ep1. Va'era - What's With The Plagues?

This week, Rabbi Fohrman and Imu tackle Parshat Va'era and ask - are the plagues just arbitrary? Or do they mean something real, to the Israelite, the Egyptians, and to us, today? For more Aleph Beta, try our app. iTunes: Android: