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.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

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.

Read More


0 Comments4 Minutes

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.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

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?

Read More


0 Comments6 Minutes

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.

Read More


0 Comments6 Minutes

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.

Read More


0 Comments6 Minutes

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.

Read More


0 Comments6 Minutes

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.

Read More


0 Comments10 Minutes

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?

Read More


0 Comments6 Minutes

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.

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes

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.

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes

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.

Read More


0 Comments5 Minutes

B’shalach 5776-2016

“The Small ‘Stuff’ is not Always Small”

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

Read More


0 Comments12 Minutes

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.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

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.

Read More


0 Comments12 Minutes

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.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

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.”

Read More


0 Comments11 Minutes

Passover 5768-2008

"The Wind and the Sun"

The Passover Haggadah cites the verse from Deuteronomy 26:7, "Va'yah'ray'oo," which states that the Egyptians treated the Hebrews badly. Rather than translate "va'yah'ray'oo," to mean that they treated us "badly," the Abarbanel indicates that its root stems from the word "ray'ah," or friend. Rabbi Piron concludes that Jews need to be on guard more from our so-called friends who embrace us and draw us away from our moral and ethical moorings, than from our enemies who try to physically destroy us.

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes

Balak 5767-2007

"The Enemy Within"

Who were Balak and Bilaam? According to Midrashic sources, they are both descended from Abraham's family. Balak was the son of Lot, while Bilaam was Laban's son and brother to Rachel and Leah. Jewish history has a long pattern of evil emanating from good and good emanating from evil. What accounts for this perplexing pattern?

Read More


0 Comments11 Minutes

Vayigash 5767-2006

"Two of the Seventy Souls"

The Torah lists 70 descendants of Jacob who entered Egypt. Two names seem to be out of place among the 70 "souls" that are recorded: Serach, the daughter of Asher, and Shaul, the son of the Canaanite woman. Who were these unusual people, and why were they singled out?

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes

Nitzavim-Vayeilech 5766-2006

"The Torah's Not-So-Secret Formula for Peace"

There has never been a period of peace for the Jewish people without a concomitant return to G-d. Although parashat Nitzavim has an abundance of uplifting promises predicting G-d redeeming His people and gathering them in from exile, all the goodness is contingent upon our prior return to G-d.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Passover I 5765-2005

"In Every Generation"

The story of the Exodus and the celebration of the Passover recalls the physical salvation of the Jews from the slavery of Egypt at the hand of Pharaoh. But more than the physical suffering of the Jews throughout the ages, the spiritual losses have taken an even greater toll on the Jewish people. The festival of Passover is an important opportunity for the vast majority of the Jews of the world who are now rapidly assimilating to experience a true spiritual redemption during this Festival of Redemption.

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes