Va’etchanan 5780-2020

“The Mandate for Parental Involvement in Jewish Education”
(updated and revised from Va’etchanan 5761-2001)

The phrase “V’shee’nan’tahm l’vah’neh’chah” and you shall teach your children, found in the Shema prayer, underscores the Torah’s mandate requiring Jews to educate their children. There is no such thing as overdosing on Jewish education, or being too passionate or too extreme about the value of Jewish education. Parents must not compromise on Jewish education. The alternative is very much Jewish oblivion.

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Shemot 5780-2020

“Developing Commitment to Judaism: A Lesson from an Egyptian Prince”
(updated and revised from Shemot 5760-1999)

“Give me four years to teach the children, and the seed I will have sown will never be uprooted.” Thus spoke the Communist leader, V.I. Lenin. Could it be that Moses’s formative rearing at the hands of his mother Jochebed and sister Miriam made the difference? It is highly probable that his early childhood experience, supplemented by his stepmother Bitya’s effective rearing, enabled Moses to develop an exalted sense of Jewish identity, making it possible for Moses to emerge as the greatest Jewish leader of all.

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B’ha’a’lot’cha 5779-2019

“Giving Our Disciples A Firm Grounding”
(Revised and updated from B’ha’a’lot’cha 5760-2000)

Because the Torah employs the unusual expression, “B’ha’a’lot’cha,” when you raise up and kindle the candelabra, our rabbis learn that the priests were to light each new candle in the Menorah until the flame of the new candle was able to rise on its own. This unusual expression is meant to serve as a message to teachers and mentors who are instructed to train and encourage their disciples to stand on their own feet, providing them with multiple educational and religious experiences, in order for them to emerge as healthy disciples, rather than mere sycophants.

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0 Comments12 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.

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Tzav 5779-2019

"Remembering Amalek: A Contemporary View”
(Revised and updated from Tzav 5760-2000)

Jewish tradition looks upon Haman and all those truly wicked enemies who sought to destroy the Jewish people as the heirs of the ancient Amalekites, the fierce nation that was the first to attack the people of Israel, especially the stragglers and the weak, after the exodus from Egypt. While remembering Amalek is important, rebuilding and guaranteeing a Jewish future is far more important.

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Bechukotai 5776-2016

“The Tochaycha–G-d’s Daunting Reproof of Israel"

The Tochaycha repeats the dire prediction that G-d will punish those who fail to abide by the Torah “sevenfold for their sins.” The Midrash maintains that there is a seven-step process for those who abandon the Al-mighty and walk away from Jewish life.

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0 Comments9 Minutes

Yom Kippur 5774-2013

Chesbon Hanefesh – Introspection”

The marvelous Hebrew term, Chesbon Hanefesh, means taking an accounting of one’s soul, and sitting in spiritual judgment of oneself. The High Holy Days are a most propitious time for “Chesbon Hanefesh” that must not be frittered away.

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Vayigash 5773-2012

"Is My Father Still Alive?"

From his own childhood experience of studying the story of Joseph and his brethren, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik teaches a most profound lesson about appreciating parents, and cherishing their spiritual legacy.

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Vayeilech-Yom Kippur 5773-2012

“The Limits of Free Will”

During the period of the Ten Days of Penitence, and especially with the imminent arrival of Yom Kippur, it is most appropriate to inquire about the limits of human free will.

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0 Comments15 Minutes

Re’eh 5771-2011

“Listening to the Message”

How does one remain moral in an increasingly immoral environment? Ethical and moral behavior doesn't simply develop through osmosis or from preaching. Judaism maintains that living a religiously observant life results in the ability to hear G-d’s voice among the conflicting messages competing for one’s attention in a noisy world.

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Re’eh 5770-2010

“The Blessing and the Curse”

Is Moses setting out a choice before the people of blessing or curse, or is he simply stating that life always consists of elements that are bitter as well as those that are sweet?

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Chukat 5770-2010

"And from Mattanah to Nahaliel"

After a series of battles and confrontations with hostile nations, the Torah, in parashat Chukat, records a lyrical but esoteric poem concerning the well of Miriam. The Talmud sees this poem as far more than a record of the historical itinerary of the people's travels in the wilderness. It is, in fact, a vital lesson of ethics and educational philosophy.

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0 Comments7 Minutes

B’ha’alot’cha 5770-2010

"The Murmurers"

The ancient "murmurers" were people of little faith whose lack of confidence led them to mourn their own lives. Murmuring is hardly only an ancient Jewish manifestation. It is very much part of today's reality, one that leads only to greater tragedy.

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0 Comments12 Minutes

Emor 5768-2008

"Creed or Deed"

The Torah instructs us to observe G-d's commandments and to perform them, leading Rashi to comment that one must study the commandments diligently in order to perform them properly. Jewish scholars engage in a very cogent argument over whether creed or deed takes precedence.

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0 Comments8 Minutes

Vayigash 5768-2007

"And Jacob Sent Judah Ahead"

Jacob sends Judah ahead to Egypt to prepare for the family's arrival in Goshen. Why does Jacob specifically choose Judah, and what exactly is the purpose of Judah's mission?

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0 Comments8 Minutes

Yitro 5767-2007

"Will Our Children be Our Guarantors?"

The Midrash Tanchuma states that before He gave the Torah to the People of Israel, the Al-mighty insisted on guarantors. When the patriarchs were offered as guarantors, they were rejected. Only when the children of Israel were offered, did G-d accept. If our children are to effectively serve as guarantors, they must receive an intensive Jewish education of the highest quality.

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0 Comments7 Minutes

Behar-Bechukotai 5766-2006

"The Economics of Torah"

In parashat Bechukotai we learn of the obligation to bring the Second Tithes as well as Animal Tithes to Jerusalem. Why Jerusalem? Since Jerusalem served as the center of Jewish religious and educational life, it needed to be properly supported. It was also the Torah's way of engaging farmers, from distant communities, in the study of Torah when they visited Jerusalem to bring their tithes.

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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.

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Balak 5764-2004

"How Goodly are Your Tents O' Jacob?"

Targum Jonathan, the Aramaic translation of the Torah, says that Bilaam saw the schools of the Jewish people and was moved to say: "How goodly are your tents O' Jacob?" The "number one" priority in Jewish life is to ensure that committed Jews remain committed. There is no better way of ensuring that commitment, than by providing outstanding intensive Jewish education for our children. If we fail to do so, then our Jewish future is in jeopardy.

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0 Comments14 Minutes

Vayigash 5764-2003

"The Secret of Jewish Survival in Exile?"

From Jacob's plans to bring his family to Egypt to be with his long-lost son Joseph, we learn a profound lesson about Jewish continuity. Jacob sees to it that the people of Israel will be securely ensconced in Goshen, the suburb of Egypt, that is to be their new home. What Jacob regards as essentials for the survival of his family in his day, are truly timeless needs that Jews must meet in every one of the lands that Jews call home.

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Sukkot 5764-2003

"The Seven Protective Divine Clouds"

According to the Midrash, the Jewish people were protected in the wilderness from the elements and from enemy attack by seven clouds. Though it is often hard to believe, the Jewish people today are similarly cared for in exile. G-d indeed shields them, but Jews must do all they can to look after their own well-being.

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0 Comments6 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.

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0 Comments9 Minutes

Bechukotai 5763-2003

"Ma'aser Shay'nee, the Second Tithe"

From their earliest days of nationhood, the Jewish people understood that Jewish education was to be the peoples' foremost concern and should be their primary charitable priority. The donations of Ma'aser Shay'nee, the second tithe, were to be used or redeemed in Jerusalem, which served as a spiritual center and educational hub of Israel-in effect affirming the primacy of Jewish education.

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0 Comments5 Minutes

Va’etchanan 5761-2001

"The Mandate for Parental Involvement in Jewish Education"

The phrase "V'shee'nan'tahm l'vah'neh'chah" and you shall teach your children, found in the Shema, underscores the Torah's mandate requiring Jews to educate their children. There is no such thing as overdosing on Jewish education, or being too zealous or too extreme about Jewish education. Parents must not compromise on Jewish education. The alternative is very much Jewish oblivion.

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

Shemot 5761-2001

"The Not-So-Obvious Process of Enslavement"

When the sons of Jacob and their families arrive in Egypt, they are sent to live separately from the Egyptians in the land of Goshen. Nevertheless, Pharaoh and the Egyptians are threatened by them and decide to deal wisely with the Jews, eventually resulting in the Hebrews' brutal enslavement. How was Pharaoh able to convince the Egyptian citizens to enslave the Jews, descendants of Joseph, who, less than 100 years before, had saved all the Egyptian people from starvation?

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0 Comments7 Minutes

B’ha’alot’cha 5760-2000

"Giving Our Disciples a Firm Grounding"

Because the Torah uses the unusual expression, "B'ha'a'lot'cha," when you raise up and kindle the candelabra, our rabbis learn that the priests were to light each new candle in the menorah until the flame of the new candle was able to rise on its own. This unusual expression is meant to serve as a message to teachers and mentors who are instructed to train and encourage their disciples to stand on their own feet, providing them with multiple educational and religious experiences in order for them to become healthy disciples, rather than mere sycophants.

Read More


0 Comments11 Minutes