Under Oath

Taking an oath of office or swearing* to tell the truth in court may not seem like a historic victory to Jews who were raised in the 21st century. However, for hundreds of years Jews were…

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Hand on the Bible

The classic courtroom image portrays a witness standing in the dock, right hand raised and left hand resting gently on the Bible. The witness is then asked: "Do you solemnly swear to tell…

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Eikev 5767-2007

"Swearing in G-d's name" by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald It's rather fascinating to see how one single, seemingly simple verse can be interpreted so differently by our commentators. In…

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Yitro 5773-2013

"The Third Commandment: Against Perjury and Profane Swearing" by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald In this week’s parasha, parashat Yitro, we encounter the first of the two references to the Ten…

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Sitting in the House of Commons

On July 26, 1858, Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild entered the British House of Commons and took the oath required to serve as a Member of Parliament. His oath was a groundbreaking step…

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Kee Tavo 5776-2016

“The Power of the Word אָמֵן--‘Amen’” by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald In this week’s parasha, parashat Kee Tavo, Moses prepares the Jewish people for the experiences that that they will soon…

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Vayeitzei 5765-2004

"Rachel: Portrait of a Matriarch" Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald In this week's parasha, parashat Vayeitzei, we are given perhaps the most extensive and most intimate view of Mother Rachel. We…

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Sitting in the House of Commons

On July 26, 1858, Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild entered the British House of Commons and took the oath required to serve as a Member of Parliament. His oath was a groundbreaking step…

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Vayechi 5766-2006

"The Passing of a Patriarch" by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald In this week's parasha, parashat Vayechi, we read of the passing of the patriarch Jacob. The Torah tells us that as soon as…

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B’shalach 5766-2006

"The Bones of Joseph" by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald This week's parasha, parashat B'shalach, opens with millions of Israelites, many of them former slaves, departing from Egypt. At this…

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Matot-Masei 5772-2012

“Words that Hurt, Words that Heal” by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald In parashat Matot, the first of this week’s two parashiot, we are immediately confronted with the exceptional power of…

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Matot-Masei 5777-2017

“Vows and Oaths” by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald Parashiot Matot and Masei are the last two parashiot of the book of Bamidbar--Numbers. The focus of these two final parashiot shifts from…

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Chayei Sarah 5771-2010

“What Shall I Do, My Parents Hate Him?!” by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald In this week’s parasha, parashat Chayei Sarah, we encounter the world’s first shidduch (arranged marriage) and the…

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Nitzavim-Vayeilech 5780-2020

“An Exclusive Covenant with an Inclusive Philosophy” (Revised and updated from Nitzavim-Vayeilech 5760-2000) by, Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald   In parashat Nitzavim, the first of this…

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The Harts of Quebec

The first Jewish settlers in the area now known as Quebec (but which was referred to as “Lower Canada” by the British) arrived with the British soldiers during the “French and Indian War”…

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Nitzavim-Vayeilech 5760-2000

"An Exclusive Covenant with an Inclusive Philosophy" by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald In this coming week's double parashiot, Nitzavim-Vayeilech, we encounter Moshe on the last day of his…

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Nitzavim-Vayeilech 5771-2011

"Renewing the Covenant" by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald In this week’s double parashiot, Nitzavim-Vayeilech, Moses, on the last day of his life, dramatically gathers all the people of…

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Vayishlach 5775-2014

“She Called His Name ‘Ben Oni’” by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald In this week’s parasha, parashat Vayishlach, Jacob, after many years of separation, finally reunites with his long-estranged…

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Naso 5775-2015

“The Fine Nuances of Jealousy” by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald This week’s parasha, parashat Naso, includes the very challenging portion about the Sotah, the woman who is suspected of being…

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Chukat 5777-2017

“Moses’ Painful Words of Comfort” Among the diverse themes found in parashat Chukat, we learn of the death of Aaron. According to tradition, on the first day of Av, in the fortieth and…

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The Harts of Quebec

The first Jewish settlers in the area now known as Quebec (but which was referred to as “Lower Canada” by the British) arrived with the British soldiers during the “French and Indian War”…

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“And Now Let Us Say Amen…”

The word “Amen” seems to be one of those words associated with prayer throughout the Judeo-Christian culture, but what does it mean? The response Amen at the end of an oath or a prayer is…

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Vayigash 5762-2001

"The Virtues of Assimilation" by Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald In this coming week's parasha, parashat Vayigash, the dramatic story of Joseph and his brothers comes to a rousing conclusion.…

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Promise Particulars

Always be careful of how you express a promise so that it is not an oath.

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Toledot 5781-2020

“The Ancient Origins and Practice of Anti-Semitism” (updated and revised from Toledot 2000-5761) by, Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald In this week’s parasha, parashat Toledot, we learn that…

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Jonas Phillips: Living in the Revolution

A few weeks after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the British blockade intercepted a communication from Jonas Phillips to a relative on the Dutch Island of St. Estatius.…

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Tazria-Metzorah 5767-2007

"The Conundrum of Childbirth" by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald Again, because of the calendrical nuances, this week's parashiot, Tazriah-Metzorah, are combined. While both parashiot deal…

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Mishpatim 5768-2008

"Showing Sensitivity to the Helpless and the Downtrodden" by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald Among the 53 mitzvot that are found in parashat Mishpatim (23 positive and 30 negative) are a series…

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Matot 5768-2008

"Striving for Refined Speech" by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald In this week's parasha, parashat Matot, we learn of the laws that govern vows and oaths, known in Hebrew as nedarim and…

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Devarim 5775-2015

“Looking Through the Pain, Toward a Bright Future” by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald With this week’s parasha, parashat Devarim, we begin reading the fifth and final book of the Torah, the…

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