Devarim 5779-2019

“Judaism’s Unique View of Justice and the Judicial System”
(Revised and updated from Devarim 5760-2000)

In parashat Devarim, Moses delivers his valedictory admonition to the Jewish people. Knowing that the nation’s
security depends significantly on the efficacy of its legal system, Moses reminds the people again and again to be trustworthy in judgment. In this parasha, Moses lays out the foundation of Jewish jurisprudence, a legal system that was unparalleled in the ancient world. Summing it all up, the prophet Isaiah declares that “Zion shall be redeemed in justice, and that those who return to her shall be redeemed through righteousness.”

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Kedoshim 5779-2019

“The Revolutionary Idea of ‘Holiness’”
(Revised and updated from Kedoshim 5760-2000)

In parashat Kedoshim, we learn much about the revolutionary idea that the Torah introduced into civilization–-the concept of kedusha--“holiness.” As the Torah boldly declares, “You shall be holy, for I, the L-rd your G-d am holy.” Unless one subscribes to the belief that every human is holy and a reflection of the Divine, there is really no limit to the extent of depravity and immorality to which humans may sink.

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Noah 5775-2014

“The Fate of Humankind is Sealed”

The question is asked widely among the commentaries: Why did thievery and robbery (Chah’mas) bring about the fateful decree of total destruction of Noah’s generation? After all, the people were corrupt in many aspects of life, perhaps all aspects of life.

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Tetzaveh 5774-2014

“The Choshen–the Breastplate of the High Priest”

The twelve precious stones of the Ephod, represented the unique qualities of each of the twelve tribes.

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Shemot 5772-2012

“A Truly Moral Man Goes Out To His Brethren”

Although Jews may prefer to regard Moses exclusively as the leader of the Jewish people, Moses clearly emerges as the shepherd of all humankind.

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Pekudei 5771-2011

"The Meaning of the Priestly Vestments"

Not only do each of the eight priestly vestments have profound symbolic meanings, but even the way the garments are worn is meant to convey a life lesson to the priests and the people whom they serve.

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Behar-Bechukotai 5769-2009

"Impoverishment: In those Days, in these Times"

In parashat Behar, the poor person is described on several occasions as "mach," crushed. Judaism's remarkable laws regarding charity not only address the material losses of an impoverished person, but also attempt to heal the emotional losses of those who have lost their life's possessions.

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Behar-Yom Ha’atzmaut 5768-2008

"The Incredible Yovel--The Jubilee Year"

In parashat Behar, the Torah introduces the revolutionary concept of Yovel, the Jewish Jubilee year, that was celebrated every fiftieth year of the Sabbatical cycle. According to the commentators, the Jubilee was intended to train the Jews in compassion, charity, and justice. However, it was much more than just that.

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Devarim-Tisha B’Av 5767-2007

"Zion Shall be Redeemed through Justice"

The prophet Isaiah states that Zion will be redeemed through justice. It is no accident therefore that the Torah portion read before Tisha Ba'Av, the fast of the 9th of Av, opens with an exhortation about honesty in judgment. The establishment of the Sanhedrin, the High Court of Jewish law, is meant to serve as a paradigm of justice, leading to the rebuilding of Jerusalem, soon in our days.

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Va’etchanan 5766-2006

"A Small Verse that Started a Mighty Revolution"

Although parashat Va'etchanan is filled with many important verses and themes, one surprising verse, "You shall do what is fair and good in the eyes of G-d" (Deuteronomy 6:18), stands out for its revolutionary quality, setting a new precedent for Judaism's moral/legal underpinnings. This verse teaches that each Jew is exhorted to go beyond the letter of the law and to always strive to relate to neighbors and friends in a generous and giving manner.

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Shemot 5763-2002

"The Making of a Concerned Jewish Leader"

Who is the child Moses and how does he merit to become the "savior" of Israel? Both the biblical texts and the Midrashic elaborations give us hints to help us understand how a child who is raised in Pharaoh's court becomes a devoted and dynamic Jewish leader. The fact that he is raised by his biological mother, Yocheved, until he is weaned, is undoubtedly a critical factor. Although tradition is purposely ambiguous, Moses not only receives his rearing from his mother and his sister as a young child, but also from Bitya, the daughter of Pharaoh, who may very well be the secret heroine in Moses' life and consequently a key player in the destiny of the Jewish people.

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Behar-Bechukotai 5762-2002

"The Extraordinary Mitzvah of Tzedaka, Charity"

The word tzedaka that we mention in Parashat Behar does not mean charity, but rather justice and righteousness. It is not an act of charity to be generous, it is the correct thing to do.

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Devarim 5760-2000

"Judaism's Unique Views on Justice and the Justice System"

In parashat Devarim, Moses gives his valedictory admonition to the Jewish people. Knowing that the entire nation's security rests on the efficacy of its legal system, Moses reminds the people again and again to be truthful in judgment. In this parasha, Moses lays out the foundation of Jewish jurisprudence, a legal system that was unparalleled in the ancient world. The prophet Isaiah sums it all up by saying that "Zion shall be redeemed in justice and those who return to her shall be redeemed through righteousness."

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Kedoshim 5760 – 2000

"The Revolutionary Idea of Holiness"

In parashat Kedoshim we learn much about the magical and revolutionary idea that the Torah introduced into civilization-- the concept of "holiness." As the Torah says, "You shall be holy for I the L-rd your G-d am holy." Unless one subscribes to the belief that every human is holy and a reflection of the Divine, there is really no limit to the extent of depravity and immorality to which humans may sink.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes