Naso 5779-2019

"Traditional Judaism: Fundamentalist or Ascetic"
(Revised and updated from Naso 5760-2000)

A Nazirite is not permitted to drink wine or eat anything of grape origin. He is not permitted to cut his hair, and is not permitted to come in contact with the dead. While it seems as if Judaism is encouraging asceticism, it does not. Judaism is a religion that promotes a sense of “balance” based on the Torah’s structure and Divine wisdom. That balance is what is reflected in the Torah’s lessons derived from the laws of the Nazir.

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Acharei Mot 5774-2014

“Prelude to Holiness”

While all agree that the goal of the Torah is to foster a Jewish Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation, there is much heated discussion concerning the extent to which one must go to avoid “contamination” from the outside environment.

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0 Comments11 Minutes

Naso 5769-2009

"An Extreme Lifestyle"

According to rabbinic interpretation, the Nazirite chooses a path of extreme behavior in order to avoid the temptations that he encounters in everyday life. Maimonides also recommends extreme behavior in order to heal oneself from negative traits. However, the extreme behavior in both instances must never be presumed to be normative. It is the "golden path" and the balanced disposition that must always be one's goal.

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0 Comments7 Minutes

Terumah 5765-2005

"Identifying the Essentials of Life"

Moses Mendelssohn, the German-Jewish philosopher, identifies three basic elements of workmanship that are employed in the building of the Tabernacle: essential arts, useful arts and ornamental arts. These categories are important in order to identify the labors of humankind and ascribe value to them. Their identity also helps us discern which skills and arts are useful and essential, and those that may lead to overindulgence.

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Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 5764-2004

"The Jewish Attitude Towards Sexuality"

The two Torah portions that are read in this weekly portion discuss many laws pertaining to sexuality. Study of these rules proves that Judaism focuses not on repression, but on control and balance.

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0 Comments7 Minutes

Naso 5760-2000

"Traditional Judaism: Fundamentalistic or Ascetic?"

The Nazirite is not permitted to drink wine or imbibe anything of grape origin. He is not permitted to cut his hair, and is not permitted to come in contact with the dead. It seems as if Judaism is encouraging asceticism. But this is not so. Judaism is a religion that promotes "balance" based on Divine structure and Divine wisdom. That balance is what is reflected in the Torah's lessons from the Nazir.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes