Weekly Torah Portion

  • פרשת משפטים - תשע"ז

    Mishpatim 5777

    Justice and Compassion – Can They Go Together?
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    In this week’s parasha, we are still feeling the impact of that transcendent and magnificent event at Ma’amad Har Sinai when the nation leaving Egypt merited a Divine revelation and received the ten basic commandments that carry the significance of the term “Jewish”.  Parashat Mishpatim deals with many laws that pertain to slavery, damages, and loans.

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  • פרשת יתרו - תשע"ז

    Yitro 5777

    What is God Offering Us? Parashat Yitro
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Site

    We’ve reached the central point, the pinnacle of the story.  This week, we read the main story which is the focus of the Torah, and of the Jewish nation’s life throughout the generations – Ma’amad Har Sinai – The Revelation at Mount Sinai.
    The Torah describes the event itself in great detail.  It was so magnificent and captivating that no human could calmly observe it.  It was a public revelation, unprecedented and one-of-a-kind in human history.  The entire nation, women and men, adults and children, experienced the most intense experience a person could have.  They stood at the foot of Mount Sinai and heard God speak to them.  “I am the Lord your God Who brought you out of the Land of Egypt”. 

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  • פרשת בשלח - תשע"ז

    Beshalach 5777

    The Future that Changes the Past
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites
     
    This Shabbat when we read Parashat Beshalach is also termed “Shabbat Shira” for “Shirat Hayam” (The Song of the Sea) which we festively read on Shabbat morning in the synagogue.  When and why was Shirat Hayam said?
    Six days after Am Yisrael was liberated from Egypt, it reached a dead end.  The desert and the sea enclosed it from three different directions and behind it – the powerful Egyptian army was approaching to return it to slavery and oppression in Egypt.  It seemed that all the events of the past year – the ten plagues and the wondrous Exodus from Egypt – were for naught.  It seemed that the promises Moshe made in the name of God were not going to be fulfilled.  Desperation took hold and the nation reached an abyss that could only be grasped by someone who tasted freedom only to understand that it was out of reach.

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  • פרשת בא - תשע"ז

    Bo 5777

    Redemption, Dependence, and Prayer
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    In this week’s parasha, Parashat Bo, we read about one of the most influential events in the history of humanity: The Exodus from Egypt.  The Jewish nation - enslaved doing hard labor in Egypt; whose infants were cruelly thrown into the Nile River; who was denied basic human rights – was liberated.  No more slavery.  No more oppression.  From now on, the nation would make its way toward the Promised Land, the Land of Canaan, with awareness of the choice and role it is meant to fulfill: establishing in the Promised Land a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation”.

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  • פרשת וארא - תשע"ז

    Vaera 5777

     
    Ten Plagues and Three Insights
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites
     
    In this week’s parasha, Vaera, we read about seven of the “ten plagues” brought on the Egyptian nation and its leaders.
    These plagues were not given only as a punishment for the Egyptians’ treatment of the enslaved Jewish nation which was particularly cruel – throwing infants into the Nile River, and more – but also to educate the Egyptian people to change their ways and outlooks which led them to this cruel and abject behavior.

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  • פרשת שמות - תשע"ז

    Shmot 5777

    Yes You Can!
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    Last week, we finished reading the book of Breishit, the book about the “Founding Fathers”, the book in which we read about Creation, about the choice of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, about their lives, their hardships, and their journeys.  The end of the book of Breishit told us about Yaakov’s family settling in Egypt as a family close to the rulers who even got a special part of the land to inhabit.

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  • פרשת ויחי– תשע"ז

    Vayechi 5777

    An Eternal Partnership and A National Interest
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    Yaakov’s blessings to his sons prior to his death are what stand at the center of Parashat Vayechi.  Yaakov earmarked a few words to each son through which he provided guidance.  These words acted as guidance not only to that particular son but to all of that son’s descendants as well.

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  • פרשת ויגש – תשע"ז

    Vayigash 5777

    Culture Clash
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    In this week’s parasha of Vayigash, we read about the great descent – Yaakov’s family leaves the Land of Canaan and goes down to Egypt. They do not do so out of joy, but rather under financial and existential duress. Canaan was suffering a terrible drought and the famine had reached peak levels, while in Egypt, Yosef the son/brother served as an assistant to the king and was the de-facto manager of the kingdom. It was Yosef, as we recall, who planned and implemented saving grain during the years prior to the famine. Egypt became the largest food supplier in the region and Yosef was the administrator of the Egyptian economy.

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  • חנוכה – תשע"ז

    Chanuka 5777

    Chanuka Candles and the Information Age
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz
    Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    Chanuka, which Am Yisrael has been celebrating for almost 2,200 years, is a holiday marking a historic event that occurred during the Second Temple period. Antiochus IV Epiphanes was the Greek king of the Seleucid Empire. He wanted to impose Hellenistic culture in the Land of Israel and did so by enforcing destructive decrees forbidding Jews from fulfilling commandments. The Hasmonean family, priests who inhabited the area of Modiin not far from Jerusalem, led a revolt that ultimately – and surprisingly – succeeded in overcoming the Seleucid Empire and establishing Jewish rule in the Land of Israel.

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  • פרשת וישב – תשע"ז

    Vayishlach – 5777

    A Sin against Man and against God
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    This week’s parasha of Vayeshev deals mostly with the story of Yosef, Yaakov’s favorite son. Yosef, the handsome youth, gets preferential treatment from his father, leading to his brothers’ feelings of jealousy and hatred. At the end of the first part of the story, we read about the brothers selling Yosef into slavery. Yosef is taken as a slave to Egypt where he is sold to serve in the house of Potiphar, one of King Pharaoh’s ministers.

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  • פרשת ויצא  – תשע"ז

    Vayetzeh – 5777

    Big Deceit, Small Deceit
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    When conveying the history of Am Yisrael and of the fathers of our nation, the Torah tends not to give us the entire story, but rather specific parts of it from which anyone can learn significant lessons. For example, the Torah tells us Avraham Avinu’s life story beginning at the age of 75. Yitzchak’s life is conveyed briefly. The Torah chooses to tell us about two years of the many spent by Am Yisrael in the desert.

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  • פרשת תולדות – תשע"ז

    Toldot – 5777

    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites
    Spirit Defeated Strength

    In this week’s parasha, we meet Yitzchak’s and Rivka’s sons: Yaakov and Esav, the famous twins that were so different from one another there was a difficult rivalry between them.
    From the time of their birth, they were different. “And the first one emerged ruddy; he was completely like a coat of hair, and they named him Esav”. While Yaakov attested that he himself was smooth. Their occupations were very different as well. “And the youths grew up, and Esav was a man who understood hunting, a man of the field, whereas Jacob was an innocent man, dwelling in tents.” (Breishit 25, 27)

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  • פרשת חיי שרה – תשע"ז

    Chayei Sara – 5777

    About Death and Life
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    The name of this week’s parasha is one of the most beautiful in the Torah – Chayei Sara (The Life of Sara). But when we start looking at the parasha we see that it deals with death much more than it deals with life. Already as the parasha begins we read about Sara’s death and burial, and at the end of the parasha we read of Avraham’s death and burial.
    Is the parasha’s name – Chayei Sara – nothing more than irony? Doubtful. Avraham and Sara’s death are described in the Torah and in the midrash as events that could illuminate life. The midrash states that Sara’s years were equal in goodness:
    A hundred as twenty – for beauty; twenty as seven – for sin.
    (Yalkut Shimoni)
    About Avraham, the Torah states:
    And Abraham expired and died in a good old age, old and satisfied.
    (Breishit 25, 8)

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  • פרשת וירא – תשע"ז

    Vayera 5777

    Avraham, Sodom, and the Yield of Insanity – Parashat Vayera
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites
    In this week’s parasha of Vayera, for the first time, we encounter Avraham as he prays. Prayer is neither a ceremony nor a chore. Prayer is turning to G-d – the Lord of everything, asking that He give us what we lack and give us a good life.
    Avraham prays. And what does he request? Nothing for himself. He prays for other people, for the people of Sodom, those same people who the Torah calls “very evil and sinful against the Lord”. These were the people he prayed for.

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  • פרשת לך לך – תשע"ז

    Lech Lecha 5777

    Avraham, Monotheism – And What Next?
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    In this week’s parasha of Lech Lecha, we meet Avraham Avinu for the first time as he is chosen by God to be the first father of the Jewish nation, at the age of seventy-five. Why was he chosen? What do we actually know about Avraham Avinu?

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  • פרשת נח – תשע"ז

    Noah 5777

    The Answer to the Unasked Question
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    The two first parashot in the Torah, Breishit and Noah, act as a sort of preface to the Torah’s central story. The main part of the Torah is the story of family, and of a nation, of fathers and mothers, of tribes that were in exile and left it, received the laws of G-d and ms a position on the most basic of foundations: the concept of creation; the world as good or bad; work and rest; relationships; man versus sin; sin and punishment, and more… 

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  • בראשית – תשע"ז

    Breishit 5777

    My Truth – Our Truth

    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    This Shabbat, we begin a new cycle of Torah reading: reading the entire five books of the Torah in the synagogue throughout one year. We go back to the starting point, to the great questions that have challenged mankind: Where did it all begin? What did the beginning look like? Is there significance to our being here on earth? Is there an aim to human existence?

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  • שמחת תורה - תשע"ז

    Simchat Torah 5777

    What are we happy about?
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    Simchat Torah is the last holiday in the string of Tishrei festivals that begins with Rosh Hashana, continues to Yom Kippur and Succot, and ends with Shmini Atzeret following Succot. Outside of Israel, Shmini Atzeret is followed by Simchat Torah, while in Israel they are on the same day. Whate celebrating? Every Shabbat, we read a parasha from the Torah, and on this day, we complete all five books of the Torah. We celebrate this completion with a huge celebration, with singing and dancing. The interesting timing of Simchat Torah begs the question: Why was it arranged so that completing the reading of the Torah comes out at the end of the series of Tishrei holidays? Is this a coincidence?

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  • פרשת האזינו תשע"ז

    Haazinu 5777

    A Journey on the Wings of an Eagle

    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    Most of parashat Haazinu is a poem dealing with the connection between the Creator and Bnei Yisrael throughout the generations. Naturally, the poem touches also upon the glorious periods when the nation walked in the path of G-d and He was close to them, as well as the difficult times when the nation veered away from the path and the Creator distanced Himself.
    At the beginning of the poem, there is a description of the birth of this unique relationship, when G-d chose Am Yisrael:
    He found them in a desert land, and in a desolate, howling wasteland. He encompassed them and bestowed understanding upon them; He protected them as the pupil of His eye. As an eagle awakens its nest, hovering over its fledglings, it spreads its wings, taking them and carrying them on its pinions.
    (Dvarim 32, 10-11)

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  • סוכות תשע"ז

    Succot 5777


    To Enjoy Being in G-d’s Shadow – Succot (Feast of Tabernacles)
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    The holiday of Succot is an especially happy one. After the transcendent and fearsome feelings of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, it feels great to be released into nature, to go out to the succa (booth) with the entire family to celebrate the holiday about which the Torah says, “Be wholly happy”! But why? What is the purpose of celebrating this holiday? The Torah states:
    …in order that your [ensuing] generations should know that I had the children of Israel live in booths when I took them out of the land of Egypt.
    (Vayikra 23, 43)
    What are these succot, these booths that our forefathers sat in in the desert?

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  • יום הכיפורים – תשע"ז

    Yom Kippur – 5777

    The Road to Change is Easy

    Every Jew’s heart quivers as Yom Kippur approaches. This great and sacred day has tremendous historic roots: thousands of years of repentance and atonement, prayer and pleas for mercy, forgiveness and purity.
    In the flow of life all year we do many things we shouldn’t and wish we hadn’t done. When we arrive at this holy day and do our own introspection, we wish to improve our ways and atone for our sins. And then we face ourselves and wonder: Can one actually change? Is it possible at once to change deeply-rooted habits and become a better and more moral person?

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  • פרשת וילך תשע"ז

    Vayelech 5777

    The Song of the Torah
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    This week, we read about Moshe Rabeinu’s personal parting from Am Yisrael prior to his death. Usually, when Moshe wanted to convey G-d’s message to the nation, he gathered them together and delivered his speech. But in our parasha, when he came to deliver his parting words before dying, he gathered the energy of his 120 years and walked to Machaneh Yisrael where most of the nation lived. The parasha is called Vayelech (and he walked) because of this walk.
     

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  • ראש השנה תשע"ז

    Bs”d Rosh Hashana 5777

    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    An Opening the Size of an Eye of a Needle – Rosh Hashana

    As the sun sets on Sunday, we will be at the threshold of a new year. We celebrate the beginning of the year with two days of Rosh Hashana, literally meaning “the head of the year”.
    If we examine the name of the holiday, we note that it does not just symbolize the beginning of a new year. The holiday is not called “Beginning of the Year”, but rather “Rosh (head) of the Year”. The head is not just the beginning of the body. When we look at the human body, we can start at the feet and look up. But it is clear to all that the head is the most important part of the human body; the organ that influences and administers everything from moving a finger to producing the most special creation a person can create.

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  • פרשת כי תבוא - תשע"ו

    Parashat Ki Tavo – 5776

    National Memory
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites
     
    Parashat Ki Tavo is mainly dedicated to strengthening the covenant that the Creator made with Bnei Yisrael.  The Torah emphasizes again and again that when Am Yisrael keeps the commandments, they will merit blessing, and when they stray from the ways of G-d, they will be exiled from their land and will greatly suffer.
    A commandment appears at the beginning of the parasha that seems at first glance to be unrelated to the main content of the parasha.  This mitzvah is the one of “Bikurim”, first fruits.
    What is this mitzvah?

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  • פרשת כי תצא - תשע"ו

    Parashat Ki Tetzeh – 5776

    Current Minus Thirty

    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    Parashat Ki Tetzeh is full of social commandments meant to help Am Yisrael build a proper society after it enters Eretz Yisrael. With these mitzvot, the Torah guides the nation toward becoming a fair society with compassion for the poor and underprivileged.
    In today’s business world, there is a payment method referred to as “current plus thirty”. Meaning, if someone hires someone for a one-time job, they often pay his wages only thirty days past the month in which he worked. There are places where the payment method is even “current plus sixty” or “current plus ninety”. Is this arrangement acceptable in the eyes of the Torah or not?

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  • פרשת שופטים - תשע"ו

    Parashat Shoftim – 5776

    Murder of an Individual – A Shock to the Nation

    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz
    Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    In Parashat Shoftim, Moshe Rabeinu instructs the nation on basic principles regarding the military and war. He offers guidance on how to settle the land and explains the correct way to lead community and societal life. Toward the end of the parasha, he deals with a horrifying case: the discovery of a body of a person murdered outside a city and no one knows who the murderer is.

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  • פרשת ראה - תשע"ו

    Parashat Re’eh – 5776

    Blessings Are Dependent on Us

    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz
    Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites
     
    In this week’s parasha, Re’eh, we continue reading Moshe’s speech to Bnei Yisrael before his death.  At the beginning of the parasha, Moshe presents to the nation two options:
    Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing, that you will heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today; and the curse, if you will not heed…to follow other gods...
    (Dvarim 11, 26)

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  • פרשת עקב – תשע"ו

    Parashat Ekev – 5776

    Difficulties in Life – Impetus for Growth
     
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz
    Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    In this week’s parasha, Parashat Ekev, Moshe continues delivering his monumental speech before Bnei Yisrael prior to his passing.  The speech is peppered with deep messages on Jewish philosophy and tools for proper and wise functioning in our daily life.
    Everyone faces difficulties in life.  Some people face financial challenges, others relationship troubles, and still others face health issues.  When we examine several verses in this week’s parasha, we find that Moshe Rabeinu provided his people with a different perspective on the tribulations they suffered on their journey through the Sinai Desert on their way from Egypt to Israel.

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  • פרשת ואתחנן – תשע"ו

    Parashat Vaetchanan- 5776

    The Path to Love
     
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz
    Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites
     
    In this week’s parasha, Vaetchanan, Moshe continues with his final words before Am Yisrael.  He tells the story of receiving the Torah, proclaims the Ten Commandments, and teaches them the chapter of “Shma Yisrael”, Hear O Israel, which is written in teffilin and mezuzot, and has been recited by Am Yisrael daily – morning and night, for thousands of years.

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  • פרשת דברים – תשע"ו

    Parashat Dvarim – 5776

    Words Spoken from the Heart
     
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz
    Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

    This week, we begin reading from the book of Dvarim, Hebrew for “words”.  The book, as its name suggests, deals almost entirely with the speech given by Moshe to Am Yisrael before the nation entered the Land of Israel.  Moshe reviews the journey through the desert, raises lessons learned, encourages and admonishes, screams and whispers, begs and chants, blesses and loves.  Moshe is bidding his nation farewell.

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  • פרשת מסעי – תשע"ו

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  • פרשת מטות – תשע"ו

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  • פרשת פנחס – תשע"ו

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  • פרשת בלק – תשע"ו

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  • פרשת חוקת – תשע"ו

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  • פרשת קרח – תשע"ו

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  • פרשת שלח – תשע"ו

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  • פרשת בהעלותך תשע"ו

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  • חג שבועות תשע"ו

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  • פרשת במדבר - תשע"ו

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  • פרשת בחוקותי - תשע"ו

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  • פרשת בהר - תשע"ו

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  • פרשת אמור - תשע"ו

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  • פרשת קדושים - תשע"ו

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  • אחרי מות - תשע"ו

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  • שביעי של פסח תשע"ו

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  • מאמר לחג הפסח תשע"ו

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  • שבת הגדול תשע"ו

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  • פרשת תזריע תשע"ו

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  • פרשת שמיני תשע"ו

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  • פרשת צו תשע"ו

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