Haazinu 5783-2022

“The Final Song”
(updated and revised from Haazinu 1999-5759)

The final song of Moses is intended to help the Jewish people remember the days of yore. The past is truly vital for Israel, as there is much to be learned from previous generations. Much pain and suffering can be avoided if only the future is approached through the wisdom of the past.

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Passover I 5782-2022

Chametz, Matzah and Faith in Redemption”
(Updated and revised from Passover 5763-2003)

A major theme of the Passover holiday is the elimination of chametz--leaven, and the substitution of matzah, unleavened bread in its stead. Oddly enough, both chametz and matzah are made of the exact same ingredients, flour and water. However, chametz is allowed to ferment. The dough for Matzah, on the other hand, is not permitted to stand still and ferment, but must be constantly kneaded. Flour and water become chametz automatically if the mixture is allowed to stand. We learn from the matzah that a truly meaningful life never comes effortlessly, but only through significant effort and labor.

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Yitro 5782-2022

“Proving” G-d’s Existence"
(updated and revised from Yitro 5763-2003)

While we like to speak of "proof" of G-d's existence, Judaism does not really encourage this course of intellectual exercise, simply because the "finite" human mind cannot possibly comprehend the "Infinite." But, while there may not be any "ultimate" proof of G-d's existence, there are surely many, many indications and abundant evidence. Indeed, a most persuasive case, from a variety of disciplines, can be made for G-d's existence.

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Toledot 5781-2020

“The Ancient Origins and Practice of Anti-Semitism”
(updated and revised from Toledot 2000-5761)

We learn in parashat Toledot that the Philistines envied Isaac, resulting in one of the earliest acts of recorded anti-Semitism. The Philistines close up all the wells that Abraham's servants had dug. It is likely that the Philistines also desperately needed water in this arid land, but they stopped up the wells for spite, to make certain that Isaac and his family would be unable to use them. It is not unusual for anti-Semites to hurt themselves at least as much as they hurt their would-be victims, the Jews.

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Passover 5780-2020

“The Essential lessons of Chametz and Matzah”
(Updated and Revised from Passover 5763-2003)

A major theme of the Passover holiday is the elimination of chametz-–leaven, and the substitution of matzah, unleavened bread, in its stead. Oddly enough, both chametz and matzah are made of the same ingredients, flour and water. Flour and water become chametz automatically if the mixture is allowed to stand. Matzah, on the other hand, before it is quickly baked, must be constantly kneaded and is not permitted to stand and ferment. We learn from the matzah-making process that truly meaningful life experiences never come effortlessly, but only through significant exertion and labor.

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Shemot 5779-2018

“Getting the Jews Out of Egypt-–Two Views”

Rabbi Ben-Zion Firer argues that Moses and G-d had different approaches regarding the process of the redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt.

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Vayechi 5779-2018

“Jacob Blesses His Grandchildren”

What were the special characteristics of Ephraim and Menashe that earned them the honor of serving as paradigms in the parents' Shabbat blessings for their male children throughout Jewish history?

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Vayeira 5779-2018

“The Tension Between Human Love and Divine Will”

In a clash between human love and Divine will, Divine will must always prevail.

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Vayeira 5778-2017

“The Alliance with Abimelech”

The alliance that Abraham made in ancient times with Abimelech, King of Gerar, reverberates profoundly throughout Jewish history and in modern times as well.

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Eikev 5777-2017

“Stages of Religious Growth”

Moses presents the people an educational and spiritual “journey” of spiritual growth, from reverence of G-d, to loving Him, and, ultimately, uniting one’s soul with the sanctity of G-d’s Divine Presence.

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B’shalach 5777-2017

“Miriam Leads the Women in Song"

In this week’s parasha, Miriam leads the women in song. It underscores the specialness of Miriam and the women of her generation, but also raises a host of issues regarding women and public singing.

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Bo 5777-2017

"And the People Bowed their Heads and Prostrated Themselves"

Why did the People of Israel bow after hearing the laws and rituals of Passover?

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Haazinu/Sukkot 5777-2016

“Sukkot: Enveloping Israel in G-d’s Loving-kindness”

As an eagle hovers over its young to protect them, so does G-d Al-mighty hover over His people Israel, in love and with kindness, protecting them in His Sukkah from the howling winds of the wilderness, and the threats of Israel’s determined enemies.

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B’ha’a’lot’cha 5776-2016

“Moses Realizes that His Dreams Were Not Going to be Fulfilled"

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik provides new insights into a well-known narrative in parashat B’ha’a’lot’cha, explaining why Moses’ dreams of entering the Promised Land were not realized.

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Shemini 5776-2016

“Good Intentions Gone Awry”

The sons of Aaron, Nadav and Abihu, apparently had noble intentions, but they allowed their zeal to lead them astray, resulting in their tragic punishment.

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B’shalach 5776-2016

“The Small ‘Stuff’ is not Always Small”

Even the most seemingly “insignificant” Torah verses teach profound lessons.

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Tazria-Metzorah-Yom Ha’atzmaut 5775-2015

“Finding the Silver Lining”

The ancient biblical affliction--Tzaraat, seems to convey the message that affliction and disease can at times be redemptive.

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Masei 5774-2014

“On the Road: The Lessons of Hindsight”

We need to carefully heed the lessons of the ancient Israelites who “traveled” and “encamped” for 40 years in the wilderness, and benefit from the incredible opportunity that hindsight provides.

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Lech Lecha 5774-2013

“Setting the Stage for the Jewish Future”

Our sages say that the deeds of the forefathers are signposts for the children. The story of Abraham and Sarah are truly predictive of both future Jewish history and contemporary Jewish life.

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Haazinu-Rosh Hashana 5774-2013

"Jewish Normal, Is Not Very Normal"

We live in remarkable times, anomalous times, times that have no precedent in all of Jewish history. Our current experiences with relative peace and tranquility can hardly be called “Jewish normal.”

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0 Comments11 Minutes