Matot-Masei 5780-2020

“Setting Our Priorities Straight”
(updated and revised from Parashiot Matot-Masei 5761-2001)

In parashat Matot we learn that the tribes of Reuben and Gad, [later joined by half of Menashe], request to remain on the eastern side of the Jordan. Moses is concerned that these tribes will not join in the battle to conquer the Holy Land. Reuben and Gad 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 concern for their children should come before their livestock. The value of human life is infinite, and must always come first, even in a materialistic generation such as the one in which we live.

Read More


0 Comments6 Minutes

Bamidbar 5779-2019

“The Trials of Being a Public Figure”
(Revised and updated from Bamidbar 5760-2000)

In parashat Bamidbar, the Torah declares: “These are the offspring of Aaron and Moses,” but only the offspring of Aaron are listed. From this textual nuance we learn that those 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 who must try to balance their own lives with the needs of the community.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Acharei Mot 5779-2019

“The Forbidden Relationships Work Both Ways”
(Revised and updated from Acharei Mot 5760-2000)

Parashat Acharei Mot lists, in a very forceful manner, the rules and regulations regarding immoral and forbidden sexual relationships. It is this text that is read publicly at the afternoon Yom Kippur service in order to remind the Jewish people of proper moral conduct. However, it is also perhaps a reminder to G-d that just as He expects His people to be loyal to Him, so must He be loyal to His people and not exchange us for any other people.

Read More


0 Comments6 Minutes

Emor 5775-2015

“Distractions, Distractions!”

Just as the ancient priests were bidden to singularly focus on their work in the Sanctuary, so too must all Jews today endeavor to focus on our peoples’ mission to become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

Read More


0 Comments11 Minutes

Shemini-Yom HaShoah 5775-2015

“Yom HaShoah: Six Million–Minus One”

More than twenty years ago, Avi London wrote about being miraculously reunited with his long-lost sister who had been separated from her family for 50 years when she was a child in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes

Lech Lecha 5775-2014

“Lot Grows Increasingly Estranged from his Uncle Abram”

What starts off as an extremely close relationship between Abram and his orphaned nephew Lot, eventually becomes a complete estrangement. What was the cause of that estrangement?

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

Nitzavim-Vayeilech 5773-2013

"They’re Not Laughing At Me Anymore!"

In the spirit of the powerful message that Moses delivered to the Jewish people at the end of his life, regarding the validity of the traditional Jewish lifestyle, I would like to share an essay that I composed several years ago, “They’re Not Laughing At Me Anymore!”

Read More


0 Comments17 Minutes

Chayei Sarah 5770-2009

"The Willing Bride"

When Rebecca is asked by her family members if she wishes to join Eliezer on his journey back to Abraham in Canaan, she responds with a forceful "Yes!" Her response serves as a basis for several important laws that govern parent-child relationships in Judaism.

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes

Lech Lecha 5770-2009

"Go for Yourself "

The Al-mighty tells Abram to leave his homeland, his relatives and his father's house and go to a land that G-d will show him. Although Abram is instructed to give up his past, he is not told to deny his past. Contemporary Jews, who undertake the journey of embracing tradition, are to be admired for their bold actions. While they may be called upon to abandon much of their past, they dare not deny their past. Doing so is invariably unhealthy and destabilizing.

Read More


0 Comments12 Minutes

Bamidbar 5769-2009

"Bringing Order to the Camp of Israel"

When it came to setting up the camp of Israel in the wilderness, two influences were significant. The angels at Sinai who surrounded G-d, and the directives that Jacob bequeathed to his children at the time of his death. Establishing healthy and secure family relationships often requires Divine intervention, but the human role must not be underestimated.

Read More


0 Comments12 Minutes

Chukat 5768-2008

"The Death of Aaron"

Why was Aaron mourned by all the people of Israel while Moses was not? The Midrash suggests that Aaron had a very special relationship with all the people because of his great commitment to love and pursuit of peace. It was Aaron's obsession with peace that brought enemies together and turned them into friends. He was an extraordinary promoter of marital harmony between husbands and wives and was able to turn the wicked into penitents. This resulted in a powerful and abiding love that the people felt for Aaron.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Vayakhel 5768-2008

"Rochel the Riveter"

Those who study parashat Vayakhel feel, at times, like throwing up their hands and saying, "Enough of the excruciating detail about the building of the Tabernacle." Nevertheless, there are always new and revolutionary insights that may be found when studying the nuances of the texts carefully. Parashat Vayakhel teaches about the special role that the women played in building the Tabernacle and conveys the important message about the primacy of the Jewish home that must never be compromised.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Chayei Sara 5763-2002

"The Torah's Recipe for Finding a Proper Mate"

This week's parasha is a primary source from which we learn much about the qualities that one should look for when seeking a mate. The lessons that may be gleaned from our scriptures serve as a sound guide, even for contemporary times. They are not primitive. In fact, in many instances, they are light-years ahead of contemporary practices and understandings.

Read More


0 Comments12 Minutes

Vayeishev 5762-2001

"Judah, the Paradigm for Jewish Future"

The two words that Judah utters, "Tzad'kah mee'meh'nee" (she 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 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

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

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

Acharei Mot 5760-2000

"The Forbidden Relationships Work Both Ways"

Parashat Acharei Mot lists, in a very forceful manner, the rules and regulations regarding immoral and forbidden sexual relationships. It is this text that is read publicly at the afternoon Yom Kippur service in order to remind the Jewish people of proper moral conduct. However, it is also perhaps a reminder to G-d that just as He expects His people to be loyal to Him, so must He be loyal to His people and not exchange us for any other people.

Read More


0 Comments6 Minutes