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.

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Shelach 5780-2020

“The Torah’s Definition of ‘Power”
(Revised and Updated from Parashat Shelach 5761-2001)

After the sin of the scouts, G-d wishes to destroy the Jewish people. Moses, however, argues with G-d that true “power” means not to destroy, but to forgive, to convert and to transfer from one strongly held attitude to another. G-d and Moses thus ascribe a new meaning to the concept of “power.”

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Vayeishev 5780-2019

“The Coming of Age of Joseph: from Lad to Bechor”
(edited and revised from Vayeishev 5760-1999)

When first introduced to Joseph, we are told that he is 17 years old and a lad. It is Joseph’s struggle to mature andbecome less self-centered that is the real story behind the story of Joseph. Joseph eventually overcomes his immaturity and vindictiveness. He becomes a person of compassion and forgiveness, no longer the self-centered teenager who sees the world only through his own eyes. Joseph emerges as the bechor, the firstborn, and the rightful heir of Israel.

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Yom Kippur 5780-2019

“How does G-d Judge?”
(Updated and revised from Yom Kippur 5760-1999

We mortals need to be constantly aware that what may seem in our eyes as a trivial or insignificant transgression, may appear in G-d’s eyes as a very serious breach or violation. That’s the challenge of Teshuva.

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Vayishlach 5777-2016

“Esau and Jacob Embrace and Kiss: Sincere or Insincere?”

After more than two decades of separation, Esau and Jacob meet and embrace. Is the reunion a true reconciliation or a temporary respite in the hatred that is deeply ingrained?

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Vayeitzei 5777-2016

“The Great Deception”

Deceptions are found frequently in the book of Genesis. While they are often painful and devastating, they, on occasion, lead to great redemption and salvation.

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Vayeilech-Yom Kippur 5777-2016

“Patience Tempered With Love”

As Joshua is about to assume the mantle of leadership of Israel, Moses charges his disciple to be patient and tolerant with the people and to infuse his feelings for them with abundant love. This was a lesson that Moses himself had learned from G-d Al-mighty.

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Mishpatim 5775-2015

“Injuring a Fellow Human Being”

In parashat Mishpatim the Torah introduces the fundamental rules regarding instances of personal injury. In many instances, these ancient rules are practiced today and form the basis of jurisprudence in many contemporary legal systems.

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Yom Kippur 5775-2014

“The High Priest’s Dilemma–What to Wear on Yom Kippur?”

Why was it necessary for the High Priest to change from his golden garments to the white garments five times on Yom Kippur?

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Kee Tavo 5774-2014

“Finding Respite”

After the horrors of the Holocaust were made public, many Jews were under the impression that with the establishment of the State of Israel, its miraculous rebirth and development, the perfidious scourge of anti-Semitism would somehow abate and eventually vanish. For a while there was, what seemed to be, a universal sensitivity. But, only sixty years later, that sensitivity has vanished, and there is now a virulent outbreak of anti-Semitism in countless countries throughout the world, even on the streets of New York and Los Angeles.

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Haazinu-Sukkot 5773-2012

"Yom Kippur: A Prelude to the Festival of Sukkot"

The four days between Yom Kippur and the festival of Sukkot are important transitional days. As often occurs, the parasha that precedes or follows a Jewish holiday dovetails thematically with the upcoming or recently passed festival. This week’s parasha, Haazinu, is no exception, confirming Yom Kippur as a most meaningful prelude to Sukkot.

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Yom Kippur 5772-2011

"The Magic of the Day of Atonement"

Yom Kippur, the most awesome day in the Jewish calendar, is also the most magical. Despite our trespasses, G-d guarantees His children forgiveness and redemption.

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Kee Tisah 5771-2011

"The Thirteen Attributes of G-d’s Mercy"

After the sin of the Golden Calf, G-d forgives the people and pronounces what are known as the “13 Attributes of G-d’s Mercy.” These “13 Attributes” are considered the most exalted prayer that a Jew may utter when beseeching G-d for mercy. It is important to know the intended meanings of these fateful words.

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Rosh Hashana 5771-2010

"G-d’s Struggle to Repent"

Does G-d pray? If He does, what is His prayer? The Talmud provides a fascinating answer to these questions, and in the process sends us a most valuable message for the High Holy Days.

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Rosh Hashana 5770-2009

"The Unexpected Joy of Rosh Hashanah"

As the new year approaches, the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Salvation or destruction may be determined at any moment. It seems as though a crushing weight is upon each individual, whose personal behavior may result in a collective blessing or curse. And, yet, Rosh Hashana is a day of great joy, because our loving Father in Heaven is always willing to forgive His children.

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Va’etchanan-Tisha B’Av 5769-2009

"Tisha B'Av: Never Beyond Redemption"

Given the extent of the evil, and the commitment to evil that pervaded those early generations, it is almost inconceivable that G-d would grant his prodigal children forgiveness. Yet, not only did G-d grant forgiveness to His children, He actually predicted their return, saying that no matter how distant the Jewish people stray, they will always be welcomed back.

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Kee Tisah 5769-2009

"An Opportunity for Those Who Seek to Repent"

The sin of the Golden Calf was a decisive event in Jewish history. Although it is generally regarded as a permanent stain on the record of the Jewish people, underscoring their abject faithlessness, according to some opinions, the people’s sinfulness was actually Divinely orchestrated in order to provide an opening for future generations to return from sin.

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Shemini 5768-2008

"The Eighth Day"

Our Torah portion, Shemini, opens on the eighth day of the consecration ceremony. In contrast to the number seven that represents nature and the natural way in which the world is conducted, the number eight is supernatural. It is a great gift to humankind from G-d. The "eighth day" that the Al-mighty gives His people, must be utilized as an opportunity to begin afresh, to redeem ourselves from the errors of the past.

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Yom Kippur 5765-2004

"G-d's Gift to His People on Yom Kippur"

One expects sinners and criminals to pay for their sins and crimes, either by way of monetary assessment or physical punishment such as incarceration. And yet, the Divine method of judgment is so different. When the Al-mighty grants forgiveness, He wipes the slate clean and says "You've sinned, you've trespassed--just don't do it anymore." There is no expectation of compensation or further punishment. Forgiveness has been granted! It is a Divine gift based purely on G-d's love for His people.

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