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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Toledot 5779-2018

“The Dangers of Assimilation”

When peace was made between him and the king of Gerar, Isaac realized that it was time to move away, to distance himself so that he could maintain his strong Jewish identity and live a full Jewish life with intensity and passion. Contemporary Jews, may need to do the same to ensure their own continuity.

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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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Shemot 5776-2016

"By What Right Does Moses Kill The Egyptian?”

The commentators are perplexed by Moses’ extremely aggressive response to the Egyptian who was beating the Hebrew. By what authority did Moses take the life of the Egyptian?

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Acharei Mot 5774-2014

“Prelude to Holiness”

While all agree that the goal of the Torah is to foster a Jewish Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation, there is much heated discussion concerning the extent to which one must go to avoid “contamination” from the outside environment.

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Shelach 5773-2013

"Tzitzit: The Unpretentious Mitzvah"

Tzitzit, the mitzvah of wearing fringes on four-cornered garments, has many facets and multiple contemporary implications.

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Va’etchanan 5772-2012

"The Magic of the Mezuzah"

In this week’s parasha, parashat Va’etchanan, we encounter the first of two textual references to the mitzvah of mezuzah that are found in the Torah. The mezuzah is one of the most widely known rituals of Judaism. Among other purposes, it serves to strengthen Jewish identity.

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0 Comments10 Minutes

Mikeitz-Chanukah 5768-2007

"Unexpected Parallels between Mikeitz and the Story of Chanukah"

Parashat Mikeitz is always read on the Shabbat of Chanukah, not only because Joseph may be viewed as an assimilationist who regains his identity, but also because of the numerous parallels to the festival of Chanukah that may be found in the text of parashat Mikeitz.

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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?

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0 Comments8 Minutes

Yitro 5766-2006

"Sanctify Them, Today and Tomorrow"

In parashat Yitro we read of the Revelation at Sinai, and the special preparations the people had to make for the Revelation. G-d tells Moses to inform the people that they should be sanctified "today and tomorrow." Our commentators state that "today" may be easy to remain sanctified, but "tomorrow" is not always easy. This message applies not only to the generation of the revelation at Sinai, but to us as well. The tests that the ancients faced are, in fact, the very same challenges that we face today in the 21st century.

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Mikeitz-Chanukah 5764-2003

"Chanukah--The Struggle of Joseph and Judah"

Clothed in his coat of many colors, Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and eventually sold to Egypt. His subsequent involvement in Egyptian society is contrasted by Judah's purist, more conventional philosophy. These two viewpoints are echoed in the struggle of Chanukah, as Jews throughout the ages question how much to participate in the culture of the day.

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Vayigash 5763-2002

"Joseph Reveals Himself to His Brothers: The Triumph of Jewish Identity"

Although Joseph remains thoroughly committed to G-d and to monotheism, he seems to be rather ambivalent about his own "Jewish identity." As soon as Joseph is summoned to Pharaoh, he shaves and changes his clothes. After he successfully interprets Pharaoh's dreams, he is dressed in garments of fine linen and has a gold chain placed around his neck. Pharaoh then gives him an Egyptian name, Tzofnat Panayach, and Osnat, the daughter of Potiphera, the High Priest of On, as a wife. Joseph even gives his children names that are critical of his previous life in Canaan and extol life in Egypt. In the end, however, Joseph re-embraces his identity--a true triumph of Joseph's inner spirit.

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Vayigash 5762-2001

"The Virtues of Assimilation"

Once the brothers arrive in Egypt, there develops a difference of "philosophy" between Joseph and his siblings regarding assimilation and the possible loss of national identity while in Egypt. The brothers prefer to avoid any hint of permanent settlement in Egypt. By not establishing comfortable homes in Egypt, they hope to assure Israel's eventual exodus. Joseph, however, was optimistic about his family being able to lead a productive Jewish life in Egypt. Joseph does not see assimilation as total evil, but rather as a possible source of cultural enrichment, without resulting in a loss of personal identity.

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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

Tzav-Purim 5760 – 2000

"Remembering Amalek: A Contemporary View"

Jewish tradition looks upon those who seek 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 elderly, weak and the young after the exodus from Egypt. While remembering Amalek is important, rebuilding and guaranteeing the Jewish future is far more important.

Read More


0 Comments13 Minutes