Vayakhel-Pekudei 5780-2020

“Judaism Sanctifies Time, Not Space”
(Updated and revised from Vayakhel-Pekudei 5761-2001)

Unexpectedly, in the midst of the Torah’s plans for the construction of the Tabernacle, the Torah in parashat Vayakhel exhorts the Jewish people to observe the Sabbath. While the Tabernacle and the Temple were sacred spaces, far more important is the sanctity of time. Lost land, earth or space, can often be recovered. But time that passes, can never be recovered. Time is truly sacred.

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Bechukotai 5779-2019

“The Big ‘IF.’ The Gift of Free Choice”
(Revised and updated from Bechukotai 5760-2000)

The little Hebrew word “im“–“if,” that begins the verse, “If you follow my decrees” is a critical word for all of humankind. It implies that all human beings have a very special gift from G-d–-freedom to choose. Our Torah does not speak of predestination, it speaks of choice. Even the Hebrew word for faith, “Emunah,” begins in Hebrew with the same letters as im, implying choice.

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Va’eira 5779-2018

"The Cups of Redemption"

Rabbi Asher Weiss maintains that there are four levels of slavery that parallel the four languages of liberation found in parashat Va’eira, and are represented by the four cups of wine that we drink at the Passover Seder.

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Passover 5778-2018

“The Opening Act”

The wise authors of the Hagaddah knew well that if the reader’s or participant’s attention is not captured in the first few moments of the Seder ritual, then the likelihood of success is much diminished. That is why they created a natural, dramatic opening for the Seder, one that has had repeated success for more than two thousand years.

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0 Comments9 Minutes

Re’eh 5777-2017

“Coming to Jerusalem–-The Festival Pilgrimages”

The sages maintain that the Torah’s requirement for the Children of Israel to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the three pilgrim festivals, Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot, is meant to serve as far more than mere communal celebrations.

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0 Comments6 Minutes

Shelach 5777-2017

“The Slave Mentality”

Without faith, the people cannot overcome their fears that are stoked by a slave mentality. This is not a people who can succeed in the Promised Land. Only a new generation, who have a relationship with the Al-mighty based on a loving faith will enter the land.

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0 Comments8 Minutes

B’ha’a’lot’cha 5777-2017

“The Convert and the Second Passover”

The fascinating laws of פֶּסַח שֵׁנִי--Pesach Shay’nee, the second Passover, not only inform us of the true reasons for Passover observance, but also enlighten us regarding important practices in determining Jewish law.

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0 Comments7 Minutes

Passover 5774-2014

“The Opening Act”

The wise authors of the Hagaddah knew well that if the reader’s or participant’s attention is not captured in the first few moments of the Seder ritual, then the likelihood of success is much diminished. That is why they created a natural, dramatic opening for the Seder, one that has had repeated success for more than two thousand years.

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0 Comments9 Minutes

Va’eira 5773-2013

"The ‘Outstretched Arm’ and the ‘Mighty Hand’"

Why does the Al-mighty rescue Israel with both an “outstretched arm” and a “mighty hand”?

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0 Comments9 Minutes

Mikeitz 5773-2012

"Two Long Years in Joseph’s Life"

The commentators are puzzled by the delay of two years from the time that Joseph interpreted the butler’s and the baker’s dreams, until he is called to interpret Pharaoh’s dream.

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0 Comments9 Minutes

Re’eh 5772-2012

“The Gift of Self Esteem”

From the ancient laws of the Hebrew servant, we behold an astounding reality--that the Torah, a document written more than 3,300 years ago, was deeply sensitive to the emotional needs of the downtrodden. What could be a greater gift to give one who is in pain than the gift of self-esteem?

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0 Comments8 Minutes

Va’etchanan 5771-2011

"The Ten Commandments: The Differences"

The fact that there are two versions of the Ten Commandments in the Torah with slight differences in the texts raises significant questions. These questions are confronted head-on by the incredibly intellectually honest approach of Jewish scholarship. This educational legacy of Judaism, which encourages students to constantly search for truth, has shaped young Jewish minds for millennia, resulting in unparalleled intellectual achievements.

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0 Comments11 Minutes

Sukkot 5771-2010

“A Turning Point for Humankind”

As much as Sukkot is a nature-oriented celebration, it is much more a G-d-centered festival, and therein lies the essential revolutionariness of Sukkot.

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0 Comments8 Minutes

Passover 5766-2006

"Ancient Customs in a New Light"

The obscure rule of not breaking the bone of the Pascal lamb that is sacrificed for Passover, sheds much light on the meaning and nature of the observance, practice and celebration of the Passover festival.

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0 Comments7 Minutes

Bo 5766-2006

"Transformations"

In order to be freed from slavery, the ancient Israelites had to go through a transformation to prove themselves worthy of freedom. By taking the sheep, slaughtering the animal, and placing its blood on the doorposts, the ancients Hebrews showed that they were prepared to defy their masters and to cleanse themselves of the pagan Egyptian practice of animal worship. Transformations need not be limited to Egyptian slaves or non-observant Jews. We can all learn a profound lesson from the transformations of the ancient Israelites, and apply it to our own lives.

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0 Comments8 Minutes

Kee Tisah 5764-2004

"Limitless Leadership"

After the people of Israel are unfaithful to G-d and worship the Golden Calf at the foot of Mount Sinai, Moses, the paradigmatic selfless leader, stands up for his people and demands that they be forgiven. His love for Israel is total and unswerving, even to the point of making the ultimate sacrifice on their behalf. As a doting "shepherd" concerned for the needs of his flock, Moses cares for this stiff-necked nation that was recently introduced to freedom.

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0 Comments9 Minutes

Behar 5763-2003

"Understanding Hebrew and Canaanite Servitude"

Parashat Behar presents us with two most perplexing and challenging statutes: Hebrew and Canaanite servitude. What seems on the surface to be two very difficult and primitive concepts, are, in reality, rather enlightened, and there is much that we may learn from them.

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0 Comments11 Minutes

Emor-Yom Ha’atzmaut 5763-2003

"The Counting of the Omer and the Celebration of Israel's Independence"

The counting of the Omer underscores the ultimate purpose of the Exodus from Egypt--the giving of the Torah! Therefore the period from the second day of Passover until the sixth day of Sivan when the festival of Shavuot is celebrated, is counted with great enthusiasm. Counting the Omer is always done in ascending numerical order rather than descending order, underscoring its positive, joyous and optimistic nature--celebrating the victory of light over darkness, morality over immorality and love over hate.

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0 Comments7 Minutes

Vayakhel-Pekudei 5761-2001

"Jews Sanctify Time, Not Space"

Unexpectedly, in the middle of the plans for the construction of the Tabernacle, the Torah in parashat Vayakhel exhorts the Jewish people to observe the Sabbath. While the Tabernacle and the Temple were sacred spaces, far more important was the sanctity of time. If we lose or forfeit space, land or earth, they can often be recovered. But time that passes can never be recovered. Time is truly Israel.

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0 Comments11 Minutes

Bo 5761-2001

"The Slave Mentality"

The Mechilta tells us that what a simple maidservant saw at the Red Sea even the greatest prophets of the future were not to see. If G-d was so close and so palpable to the ancient Israelites, how then was it possible for the Jewish people to lose faith so quickly? Unfortunately, this generation of Hebrews, who were brought up in Egyptian slavery that lasted for over 100 years, were unable to disassociate themselves from the slave mentality that they had acquired. Not even miracles could change their fixed attitudes. Therefore, that generation could not enter Israel and had to be replaced with a more appropriate generation, one that was born in freedom.

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0 Comments7 Minutes

Vayigash 5761-2001

"Joseph Helps His Brothers Repent"

Why did Joseph have to be so cruel to his brothers? Joseph apparently felt that it was necessary to put his brothers through an agonizing test in order to see whether his brothers were truly Ba'alei T'shuva--true penitents. Joseph brilliantly recreates the circumstances where Benjamin is now in the exact position that Joseph was in when he was thrown in to the pit by his brothers and sold to the Ishmaelites. Will the brothers this time stand up for Benjamin, or will they send him down the river as they did with Joseph?

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0 Comments6 Minutes

Bechukotai 5760-2000

"The Big 'If': Reflection of Free Choice"

The little word "im"--"if," that begins the verse, "If you follow my decrees" is a critical word for all of humankind. It implies that all human beings have a very special gift from G-d-- freedom to choose. Our Torah does not speak of predestination, it speaks of choice. Even the Hebrew word "Emunah," faith, begins in Hebrew with the same letters as im, implying choice.

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes