Kee Tisah 5781-2021

“Reverence for Learning in Jewish Tradition”
(updated and revised from Kee Tisah 5763-2003)

Immediately after the sin of the Golden Calf, Moses distances himself from the sinful people. Moving his tent outside the camp, he proceeds to hold court from that location. Scripture tells us that, despite the peoples' rebelliousness, when Moses went out to his tent, the entire nation would stand at the entrance of their tents as a sign of respect. From this gesture of respect, an entireritual of behavior emerged that continues to this day, reflecting the uncompromising reverence for learning that is the very essence of Jewish educational success.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Tetzaveh 5781-2021

“The Korban Tamid--a Lesson in Consistency”
(updated and revised from Tetzaveh 5762-2002)

The Tamid, the perpetual offering, was brought every morning and afternoon of every day of the year. Unfortunately, we no longer have a Temple and can no longer offer sacrifices. All we have is prayer. Now we must show our consistency and faithfulness to G-d through our prayers.

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes

Terumah 5781-2021

“The Mishkan and the Sanctity of the Jewish Home”
(updated and revised from Terumah 5763-2003)

The fact that the Mishkan--the Tabernacle--and its central furnishings so closely resemble the Jewish home, underscores the sanctity of the Jewish domicile. By analyzing each of the Tabernacle's furnishings, we uncover the invaluable symbolic meanings of these furnishings that deserve to be found in every Jewish home.

Read More


0 Comments11 Minutes

Mishpatim 5781-2021

“‘An Eye for an Eye’ in Jewish Law”
(updated and revised from Mishpatim 5762-2002)

If an "eye for an eye" in the Bible does not literally mean an eye for an eye, but rather monetary compensation, why then does the Torah use this expression?

Read More


0 Comments10 Minutes

Yitro 5781-2021

“Structural Secrets of the Decalogue”
(updated and revised from Yitro 5762-2002)

The Torah contains some very powerful subliminal messages that may not be articulated in the text itself, or written in the letters and the ink, but may be found instead in the white spaces. That is why there are many lessons to be learned from simply studying the structure of the Ten Commandments.

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

B’shalach 5781-2021

“G-d: The Source of Sweetness”
(updated and revised from B’shalach 5762-2002)

Immediately after the great miracle of the parting of the seas, the Jews arrived at a place called Marah, where the water had turned bitter. G-d instructs Moses to throw a bitter branch into the water, and miraculously the waters become sweet. Our commentators suggest that the Torah wishes to convey the message to humankind that ultimately there is really no such thing as "bitter or sweet." Whatever we experience is merely a reflection of G-d's will.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Bo 5781-2021

“The Slave Mentality”
(updated and revised from Bo 5761–2001)

The Mechilta tells us that what a simple maidservant saw at the Red Sea even the greatest prophets of the future were not to see. If G-d was so close and so palpable to the ancient Israelites, how then was it possible for the Jewish people to lose faith so quickly?

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

Va’eira 5781-2021

“Mesmerized by the Subtle Slavery”
(updated and revised from Va’eira 5761-2001)

The Torah tells us that Pharaoh literally had to chase the Jews out of Egypt, not only because Egypt was the country that they knew as their home, but because Egypt embodied values from which they were not prepared to separate. It is this “subtle slavery,” reflected in our admiration for, and indeed worship of, “alien” cultures and values, that is a cause of concern for Jews, even today.

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

Shemot 5781-2021

“The Not-So-Obvious Process of Hebrew Enslavement”
(revised and updated from parashat Shemot 5761-2001)

The message of parashat Shemot is that the Jewish people probably became slaves long before the Egyptians enforced slavery upon them. Long before the back-breaking labor, the Sons of Israel had probably become slaves to Egyptian culture, Egyptian fashion and Egyptian values. It was inevitable that these committed Jewish-Egyptian “patriots” would become so deeply dedicated to Egypt politically, civically and emotionally that they would ultimately be unable to extricate themselves.

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

Vayechi 5781-2021

“Revealing the Time of the Coming of the End of Days”
(Updated and revised from parashat Vayechi 5761-2001)

Parashat Vayechi is the only Torah parasha that has no empty spaces between the beginning of the new parasha and the end of the previous week's parasha. Vayechi is consequently considered a "sealed" parasha. The rabbis say that the reason the parasha is sealed is because Jacob wished to reveal when the end of days would be--when the Messiah would arrive. G-d, however, did not agree that Jacob should reveal this information. The frequent contemporary attempts to calculate the Messiah’s arrival raises many questions. The Malbim offers an engaging response.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Vayigash 5781-2020

“Joseph Helps His Brothers Repent”
(updated and revised from Vayigash 5761-2001)

Why did Joseph have to be so cruel to his brothers? Joseph apparently felt that it was necessary to put his brothers through an agonizing test in order to determine whether his brothers were truly Ba'alei T'shuva--fully penitent. Joseph brilliantly recreates the circumstances where Benjamin is now in the exact position that Joseph was in when he was thrown in to the pit by his brothers and sold to the Ishmaelites. Will the brothers this time stand up for Benjamin, or will they abandon the lad, as they did Joseph?

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

Mikeitz 5781-2020

“A Dysfunctional Family Becomes Functional”
(updated and revised from Mikeitz 5762-2001)

The saga of Joseph and his family is fundamentally the story of an immature young man who must outgrow his narcissism and self-absorption. It is the story of the assimilationist, Joseph, who shaves off his beard, changes his clothes, is given an Egyptian name and an Egyptian wife. But in the end, Joseph stands up and declares: "I am Joseph, I'm not an Egyptian, I'm not an assimilator. Is my father still alive?" He answers with an emphatic and resounding, "Yes, my father is alive. I am Joseph!"

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

Vayeishev 5781-2020

“Judah, The Paradigm for Jewish Future”
(Updated and revised from Vayeishev 5762-2001)

The two words that Judah utters, צָדְקָה מִמֶּנִּי--"Tzad'kah mee'meh'nee"--“she [Tamar] is more righteous than I,” when he admits that he impregnated his daughter-in-law, Tamar, changes not only the course of history for Judah, but the entire destiny of the Jewish people. It may very well be the reason that, at least in part, our people are called "Jews" because of the profound act of penitence of our forefather, Judah.

Read More


0 Comments11 Minutes

Vayishlach 5781-2020

“The Proper and Improper use of Zealotry”
(updated and revised from Vayishlach 2000-5761)

We read of the very painful and distressing episode of the rape of Dinah, by the ruler of Shechem. Employing subterfuge in order to avenge the attack on their sister, Dinah's brothers, Simeon and Levi, demand that the men of the city be circumcised if they want to marry any Jewish women. While recovering from their circumcision, the men of Shechem are killed by Simeon and Levi, and the city is plundered by the remaining sons of Jacob. Jacob condemns Simeon and Levi for their violence and never seems to forgive them until the day of his death. However, the tribe of Simeon seems to bear that condemnation forever, whereas the tribe of Levi becomes the spiritual leader of Israel. Why their different fates?

Read More


0 Comments10 Minutes

Toledot 5781-2020

“The Ancient Origins and Practice of Anti-Semitism”
(updated and revised from Toledot 2000-5761)

We learn in parashat Toledot that the Philistines envied Isaac, resulting in one of the earliest acts of recorded anti-Semitism. The Philistines close up all the wells that Abraham's servants had dug. It is likely that the Philistines also desperately needed water in this arid land, but they stopped up the wells for spite, to make certain that Isaac and his family would be unable to use them. It is not unusual for anti-Semites to hurt themselves at least as much as they hurt their would-be victims, the Jews.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Chayei Sarah 5781-2020

“The Personality of Isaac: The Passive Patriarch”
(updated and revised from Chayei Sarah 5761–2000)

Much of the life of Isaac appears to reflect his seemingly passive nature. Yet, it is apparently through his passivity that he achieves greatness. It is Isaac, the "passive patriarch," who takes hold of the land of Israel, probably because he, as opposed to Abraham and Jacob, never left the land. He toiled on the land, worked the land, plowed the land and harvested the land. Through his quiet perseverance, Isaac achieved more than many others accomplish with much noise and bravado.

Read More


0 Comments10 Minutes

Vayeira 5781-2020

“Mount Moriah: Building for the Future through Love”
(updated and revised from Vayeira 2000-5761)

The place where G-d tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac is known as Mount Moriah. This place, located in the heart of Jerusalem, is where the Temple was eventually built. The well-known legend maintains that G-d selected Mount Moriah as the place for Jewish worship because of the selfless brotherly love and devotion that was practiced there. If we are to re-acquire Mount Moriah, it can only be accomplished through the practice of true fraternity and sincere, selfless love.

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes

Lech Lecha 5781-2020

“Lot, Nephew of Abram: The Promise and the Tragedy”
(updated and revised from Lech Lecha 2000-5761)

Abram was very close to his orphaned nephew, Lot, and did his best to educate him in the ways of morality and ethics. But, Abram and Lot soon grow apart because of Lot's obsession with comfort and wealth. At first, Lot showed great promise. In fact, he possibly could have become the material and spiritual heir of Abram, but instead he chose the luscious plain--he chose Sodom.

Read More


0 Comments12 Minutes

Noah 5781-2020

“Noah: The Man Who Brings Comfort to the World”
(updated and revised from Noah 5761–2000)

Abram was very close to his orphaned nephew, Lot, and did his best to educate him in the ways of morality and ethics. But, Abram and Lot soon grow apart because of Lot's obsession with comfort and wealth. At first, Lot showed great promise. In fact, he possibly could have become the material and spiritual heir of Abram, but instead he chose the luscious plain--he chose Sodom.

Read More


0 Comments11 Minutes

Bereshith 5781-2020

“The Origins and Meaning of Evil”
(updated and revised from Bereshith 5762-2001)

When the world was created, Scripture informs us that G-d saw all that He had created and that it was "very good." If that's the case, then how was evil introduced? Apparently, evil was introduced when human beings defied G-d. Fortunately, G-d has given humankind the opportunity to repair the world through good deeds and the technological skills that can eliminate most, if not all, of the world’s evils.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Simchat Torah 5781-2020

“Celebrating Torah”
(Updated and revised from Simchat Torah 5764-2003)

Torah does not just punctuate, it permeates, the life of a Jew. Torah is meant to be nothing less than the Jews' preoccupation, all of the days and nights of one's life. Like the air that is breathed, or the heart that beats within a human chest, there is no possibility of Jewish life void of Torah.

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes

Sukkot 5781-2020

"I'm Dreaming of a Warm Sukkot"
(updated and revised from Sukkot 5762-2001)

A rabbi recalls his childhood memories of the festival of Sukkot in the wilderness of the Bronx.

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

Yom Kippur 5781-2020

“The Thrill of Coming Home”
(updated and revised from Yom Kippur 5761-2000)

The month of Elul and the early days of Tishrei between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are universally regarded as propitious times for repentance and return. As G-d draws closer to us during this period, we need to draw closer to Him.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Rosh Hashana 5781-2020

“A Message for the High Holy Days: ‘Export, Export!’”
(updated and revised from Rosh Hashana 5763-2002)

During the period of the Ten Days of Penitence, we need to make our lives more spiritually meaningful. It is during the ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur that we must make particularly sincere efforts to "export" good deeds and acts of kindness.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Nitzavim-Vayeilech 5780-2020

“An Exclusive Covenant with an Inclusive Philosophy”
(Revised and updated from Nitzavim-Vayeilech 5760-2000

In parashat Nitzavim, Moses, on the last day of his life, gathers all the Jewish people, from the lowliest to the most exalted, to bring them into the covenant. Just as the people did in the time of Moses, so do we too, come together in our synagogues during the Ten Days of Penitence, with all our Jewish brothers and sisters, those who are worthy, and those who appear to be unworthy. At this singular moment, we stand together as one Jewish people, past, present and future, seeking G-d’s mercy and forgiveness.

Read More


0 Comments10 Minutes

Kee Tavo 5780-2020

“There are Stones with Human Hearts”
(updated and revised from Kee Tavo 5761-2001)

In parashat Kee Tavo, Moses transmits to the Jewish people some of the specific laws and rituals that apply once the people enter the land of Israel. He instructs the elders that, on the day they cross the Jordan to enter into Israel, the people must set up 12 great stones, cover them with plaster and write upon them all the words of this law. Tradition thus explicitly teaches us that Jewish memorials must incorporate Torah. The most appropriate memorials are houses of study and yeshivot that nurture a new generation of Jews. Only in this manner, will our enemies never be able to defeat us.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Kee Teitzei 5780-2020

“Polygamy and Jewish Tradition”
(Updated and revised from Kee Teitzei 5761-2001)
The Torah very clearly frowns on polygamous relationships. In every single instance in scripture where a man has more than one wife, the relationship is troubled. Why then does the Torah permit a man to have more than one wife, even though it’s discouraged?

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

Shoftim 5780-2020

"Security for Citizens and Caring for Guests”
(updated and revised from parashat Shoftim 5761-2001)

In parashat Shoftim, we encounter the ritual of Eglah Arufah, the ceremony in which a heifer is put to death. The ritual of Eglah Arufah, underscores that both city officials and hosts, have a responsibility of escorting visitors, to make certain that they can travel safely and securely from one city to another. Those who fail to provide security are held morally responsible. It applies to those who welcome visitors into their homes today as well.

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

Re’eh 5780-2020

Re'eh 5780-2020

“Changing and Updating Jewish Law”
(updated and revised from parashat Re’eh 5762-2002)

In parashat Re’eh, we learn of the practice known as shmitat k’safim, of forgiving debts in the seventh year of the Sabbatical cycle. However, because of a proclamation by Hillel the Elder known as Pruzbul , the law of forgiving the debts has hardly ever been practiced. How was Hillel able to cancel a law of the Torah through, what seem to be, legal devices and loopholes?

Read More


0 Comments12 Minutes

Vayeitzei 5781-2020

“The Role of Mother Rachel in Jewish History”
(updated and revised from Vayeitzei 2000-5761)

Mother Rachel is not only the great matriarch, she also is considered the great defender of her children--the Jewish people. It is Mother Rachel who watches over her children as they go out to exile and return, passing by her grave located on the road to Bethlehem. How fortunate are her progeny to have a mother who is always there for her children.

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes