Shemini 5780-2020

“The Responsibilities of Leadership”
(Revised and updated from Parashat Shemini 5761-2001)

Some commentators suggest that the “strange fire” offered by Nadav and Abihu was an attempt to fulfill a personal urge they had for their own self-expression. The tragic story of Nadav and Abihu teaches that true leaders must act responsibly, which inevitably results in personal limitations. Those who cannot accept limitations should avoid assuming leadership roles.

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Kee Tisah 5780-2020

“The Levites and the Golden Calf: Transcending One’s Own Nature”
(Updated and revised from Kee Tisah 5761-2001)

Although there appear to have been only 3000 “hard core” rebels among the people who worshiped the Golden Calf, only the tribe of Levi responded to Moses’ cry of “Whoever is to G-d, come to me!” This was due to the fact that, among the People of Israel who did not worship the Golden Calf, only the Levites reached an exalted level of personal self-abnegation. Consequently, only the Levites were singled out to become the servants of G-d for all time, who would be chosen to serve as the ministers in the Tabernacle, and ultimately, the Temple.

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Chukat 5779-2019

“Can Death Be Sweet?”
(Revised and updated from Chukat 5761-2001)

In parashat Chukat we learn of the death of Aaron, one of the Jewish people’s most beloved figures. According to the Midrash, Aaron had the privilege of leaving the physical world knowing that his children were following in his footsteps, and committed to serving the Jewish people. Aaron truly has a “sweet demise.”

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Bo 5779-2019

"Nothing Stands in the Way of Teshuva!"

Nothing stands in the way of Teshuva. Even wicked Pharaoh can repent.

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Korach 5778-2018

“Where Did Korach Go Wrong?”

Korach, who was reputed to be a very wise man, failed to understand that the leadership role that Moses played was not based on power, but was derived from being a devoted mentor and a master teacher.

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Tetzaveh 5778-2018

“The Brothers: Moses and Aaron”

The Book of Exodus not only introduces the concept of brotherhood, but provides an extraordinary paradigm of brotherhood through the special relationship of Moses and Aaron.

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Bo 5778-2018

“Deceptions at the Behest of G-d”

The Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt is looked upon by all as a universal paradigm of the struggle for freedom from oppression. Yet it is punctuated by several instances of deception on the part of the Israelites and, it was all done at the behest of the Al-mighty G-d.

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Va’eira 5778-2018

“Participating in the Communal Pain”

The names of the sons of Levi reflect the fact that the tribe of Levi felt the communal pain for all the tribes of Israel, even though they themselves were not personally afflicted.

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Chukat 5777-2017

“Moses’ Painful Words of Comfort”

During the moving ceremony marking the passing of his beloved brother Aaron, Moses forces himself to say words of comfort to Aaron that are personally devastating.

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Bamidbar 5777-2017

“The Danger of Seeing the Holy Furnishings”

The closing verses of parashat Bamidbar underscore the great sanctity of the Torah, a particularly timely theme for the eve of Shavuot.

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Devarim 5776-2016

“Moses the Stammerer, Becomes a World-Class Orator"

At the Burning Bush, Moses describes himself as “a stammerer and stutterer.” The book of Deuteronomy testifies, however, that the tongue-tied Moses was apparently transformed into a bold and talented orator, whose words resound throughout the world to this very day.

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Tetzaveh 5776-2016

"Feeling the Pain of Others who are in Need"

Just as the Torah instructs the High Priest to wear the Breastplate on his heart, so must each Jew feel the pain of those who are in need.

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Va’eira 5776-2016

“The Lessons of Genealogy”

The genealogy of Moses and Aaron teaches many important principles about life, and provides insightful life lessons for all to master.

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Pinchas 5775-2015

“Learning by Example”

Role models can serve as sources of inspiration, for both good and evil. The zealous actions of Pinchas can be traced back to the heroic actions of his grandfather Aaron.

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B’ha’a’lot’cha 5775-2015

“Hubris Revisited”

Despite reaching the highest level of spirituality, Aaron, the High Priest of Israel, did not allow success to go to his head, remaining the same modest person that he was before his distinguished appointment to the High Priesthood.

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Tzav 5775-2015

“When Performing a Mitzvah Comes at a Significant Personal Cost”

The priests of old were profoundly challenged when they worked in the Tabernacle and Temple, since their service resulted in a significant loss of personal income.

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Kee Tisah 5775-2015

“Aaron, What Did This People Do To You?”

The biblical narrative seems to portray Aaron as a collaborator with the people of Israel in the sinful worship of the Golden Calf. Actually, Moses and Aaron play a very delicate balancing act of leadership in order to prevent the people from total destruction for their wayward ways.

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B’ha’a’lot’cha 5774-2014

“The Difference Between Moses and the Other Prophets”

When the Al-mighty rebuked Miriam and Aaron for speaking against their brother Moses, He says: “Not so is My servant, Moses!” affirming that the special prophetic stature of Moses is in a class by itself, and far superior to all other prophets.

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Shemini 5774-2014

“This is What the L-rd Meant When He Said”

What did Moses mean when he began his words of condolence to his bereaved brother, Aaron, with the enigmatic phrase, “Of this did the L-rd speak, saying.”

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Kee Tisah 5774-2014

“Moses Argues with G-d to Save the Jewish People from Destruction”

Moses’ argument with G-d to forgive the people for the sin of the Golden Calf serves as a paradigm for future petitions of the Al-mighty to forgive the sins of His people.

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Chukat 5773-2013

"Striking the Stone: the Parameters of Anger"

How lethal is anger? Moses and Aaron lost their opportunity to enter the Promised Land because of a single display of anger.

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Tetzaveh 5772-2012

"Where is Moses?"

Since the entire design and execution of the Tabernacle was done under the supervision of Moses, it is particularly surprising that the name of Moses does not appear, even once, in parashat Tetzaveh.

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Va’eira 5772-2012

“The Decline and Collapse of the Egyptian Magicians”

The Bible reports that the Egyptian magicians encourage Pharaoh’s resistance by replicating several of the Ten Plagues. Soon, however, we learn of the precipitous decline and collapse of the Egyptian magicians.

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B’ha’alot’cha 5771-2011

"The Nature of Moses’ Humility"

What does it mean when Scripture describes Moses as “Ah’nahv m’ohd, mee’kohl hah’adam,” the most humble person on the face of the earth?

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