Vayechi 5769-2009

"Blessing the Children"

There is no greater joy for parents than to bask in the blessings of one's children. Unfortunately, there is no greater pain that one can endure than the shame brought upon one's family and on the family of humankind by our children.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Kee Tavo 5768-2008

"Redeeming Captives"

One of the truly haunting verses of the Torah that we encounter in Parashat Kee Tavo is the prediction that our sons and daughters will not be ours, for they will be led into captivity. The mitzvah of "Pidyon Sh'vuyim," redemption of captives, is one of the highest mitzvot in the hierarchy of biblical commandments. Redeeming our contemporary "captives" must be the call of the hour.

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

Matot-Masei 5767-2007

"Vindicated Before G-d and Before People"

In parashat Matot, when the tribes of Reuben and Gad (and later half of Menashe) decided to stay on the eastern side of the Jordan, Moses suspected rebellion on the part of the people and feared that it may lead to tragedy. When Moses is convinced that the tribes intend to do their share in the battle against the Canaanites, he agrees to let them stay on the eastern side of the Jordan. Moses tells the tribes that if they do their share in the battle, "they will be vindicated before G-d and before Israel." What does this notion of vindication mean?

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

Balak 5767-2007

"The Enemy Within"

Who were Balak and Bilaam? According to Midrashic sources, they are both descended from Abraham's family. Balak was the son of Lot, while Bilaam was Laban's son and brother to Rachel and Leah. Jewish history has a long pattern of evil emanating from good and good emanating from evil. What accounts for this perplexing pattern?

Read More


0 Comments11 Minutes

Bo 5767-2007

"Learning by Teaching"

The Al-mighty tells Moses to approach Pharaoh so that He may show His wonders to Pharaoh and to the people of Egypt. Scripture tells us however that another important purpose of Moses' encounter with Pharaoh is that the Jewish people will know that the Lord is G-d, so that they will be able to communicate their faith to future generations. There is no more effective method of learning than through teaching.

Read More


0 Comments6 Minutes

Toledot 5767-2006

"The Unanswered Prayer"

Rebecca is barren, and she and Isaac pray for a child. Scripture tells us that G-d responds to Isaac's prayer and Rebecca becomes pregnant. What happened to Rebecca's prayer?

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Toledot 5766-2005

"Why Was Rebecca Barren?"

In parashat Toledot, Isaac and Rebecca both pray that Rebecca will be blessed with a child. After many years of barrenness, G-d listens to the prayer and Rebecca conceives. Why was Rebecca barren, and why were the other matriarchs--Sara and Rachel--also barren? Our rabbis offer up a host of answers. Those answers notwithstanding, we need to be more sensitive in our relations to those couples who pray for children and are not given a positive response.

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes

Va’etchanan 5765-2005

"The Jewish Attitude Towards Intermarriage"

In parashat Va'etchanan, we read of the stern prohibition against intermarriage with those who are not members of the Jewish faith. Different arguments are often presented why Jewish young people should not intermarry. Perhaps the most compelling argument is that only those who marry within the faith can hope to be part of the revolutionary mission of the Jewish people to perfect the world under the rule of the Al-mighty and to serve as a light unto the nations.

Read More


0 Comments10 Minutes

Vayikra 5765-2005

"The 'Sacrifice' That Lasts Forever "

Much of the Book of Leviticus, especially parashat Vayikra, deals with the rites and rituals of animal sacrifice. Sacrifice, however, does not only mean the sacrifice of offerings in the Tabernacle, it also means the Jews preparedness to do everything that is necessary to guarantee that Jewish children are given proper Jewish educations, thus ensuring a bright Jewish future.

Read More


0 Comments6 Minutes

Bo 5765-2005

"Opening Their Hearts so They Can Hear"

Among the many fascinating verses of Parashat Bo, we find the actual sources of three of the four sons that are recorded in the Passover Hagaddah. There is a profound lesson to be learned from all the Biblical sources, but especially the verses that apply to the Rasha, the so-called "prodigal child."

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes

Nitzavim-Vayeilech 5763-2003

"Choosing Life"

In parashat Nitzavim, the Al-mighty begs his children to "choose life." Judaism believes that "healthy guilt" allows us to override our defense mechanisms and helps us acknowledge the changes that we need to make in order to improve our lives, to perfect our situation and to choose life.

Read More


0 Comments12 Minutes

Kee Tavo 5763-2003

"Watch Out for Laban, He is More Dangerous Than Pharaoh"

As part of the Bikkurim declaration, the celebrants stated that "An Aramean tried to destroy my father." The Torah thus sees the Aramean, Laban, as more dangerous than Pharaoh. The fact that Pharaoh wants to do us in is well known, so we can protect ourselves. Our brother Laban, however, the wily Aramean, is always out there waiting for us, feigning love, conspiring to defeat us. We need always be on watch for him.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Devarim 5763-2003

"The Gentle Reproof"

The book of Devarim records the words that were spoken by Moses in the last five weeks of his life, given as a last will and testament to his beloved people. In this parasha, Moses provides an example of how reproof should be given by alluding to the people indirectly, rather than announcing the exact sins that were committed. We may indeed learn from Moses how to give effective reproof with great gentleness.

Read More


0 Comments13 Minutes

Tetzaveh 5763-2003

"The Primacy of Jewish Education"

In contrast to the voluntary contributions that were made to the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), the donation of pure olive oil for the candelabra was obligatory. The rabbis say that the light of the candelabra represents wisdom and Jewish education. When it comes to the light of Jewish education, donors have no choice. The People of Israel are expected to keep the menorah, the light of wisdom, of holiness and of Jewish education burning brightly!

Read More


0 Comments11 Minutes

Matot-Masei 5761-2001

"Setting Our Priorities Straight"

In parashat Matot we learn of the tribes of Reuben and Gad (later joined by half of Menashe) who choose to remain on the eastern side of the Jordan. Moses is concerned that they will not join in the battle to conquer the Holy Land. The tribes respond, "We will build pens for our livestock and cities for our small children," and of course they will send troops. Moses, however, corrects them, telling them that their children should come before their livestock. The value of human life is infinite and must always come first, even in a thoroughly materialistic generation such as the one in which we live.

Read More


0 Comments6 Minutes

Va’eira 5761-2001

"The Subtle Slavery"

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," embodied in our admiration for, and indeed worship of, alien cultures, that is a cause of concern for Jews, even today.

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

Noah 5761-2000

"Noah: The Man Who Brings Comfort to the World"

In the persona of Noah, our commentaries uncover a person of abundant talent. He is the first person whom the Torah refers to as "ben" (son), derived from the Hebrew word to build. Noah indeed is a primary builder of the world, a role that is continued by many of his descendants. Noah also brings comfort to the world, which is what the name "Noah" literally means. It is Noah who teaches humankind that technology has the power to reduce pain and travail, and that children can be a consolation for their parents' inability to complete their tasks. It is Noah who has the ability to bring comfort and uncover goodness, even in times of adversity.

Read More


0 Comments10 Minutes

Kee Teitzei 5760-2000

"Polygamy, Illegitimacy and Punishing the Innocent"

The concept of mamzerut, illegitimacy in Judaism, is a very painful topic in Jewish life but one that underscores the extreme sanctity with which Judaism views the family. Once the sanctity of life is compromised, Jewish life is compromised. The Torah has much to teach about conduct and compassion in the face of difficult societal issues and choices.

Read More


0 Comments10 Minutes

Va’etchanan 5760-2000

"The Torah's Radical Approach to Parenting"

In parashat Va'etchanan, we learn of the fifth commandment of honoring father and mother. The Code of Jewish Law goes into extensive detail regarding the obligations of honoring and revering parents. A cursory study of the Code's directives seem to place all the obligations on the children and all the privileges on the parents. However, Judaism attempts to create a very delicate balance. The radical regulations of parenting set down in the Talmud and in our Code are based on insights of our Torah. They are ancient and insightful, and they work.

Read More


0 Comments11 Minutes

Bamidbar 5760-2000

"The Risks of Being a Public Figure"

The Torah announces: "These are the offspring of Aaron and Moses," but only lists the offspring of Aaron. From this textual nuance we learn that those people who are not blessed with biological children can still be spiritual parents, like Moses was to Aaron's children. It also underscores the great challenge facing public figures to balance their own lives with the needs of the community.

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes

Passover 5760-2000

"The Passover Seder--Focus on the Children"

Even before the enslavement of the Jews began, Pharaoh instructed the midwives to kill all newborn Jewish babies. The Midrash goes further, asserting that Pharaoh's disproportionate hatred of Jewish children led him to try to remedy his leprosy affliction by bathing in the blood of Jewish children. On Passover night, every Jew is a child, and every Jew becomes a parent, to underscore the importance of nurturing the next generation.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Toledot 5760-1999

"A Lesson from Jacob and Esau: Understanding and Accepting Differences"

There are differences in children, and differences in parents' attitudes towards children. Some of the commentators note that the difficulties between Jacob and Esau may be due to the fact that not enough attention was paid to the innate differences in the childrens' natures, and that they were both given the same cookie-cutter educational experiences. There is a great price to pay for not recognizing each child's individual needs.

Read More


0 Comments11 Minutes