Shemini 5780-2020

“The Responsibilities of Leadership”
(Revised and updated from Parashat Shemini 5761-2001)

Some commentators suggest that the “strange fire” offered by Nadav and Abihu was an attempt to fulfill a personal urge they had for their own self-expression. The tragic story of Nadav and Abihu teaches that true leaders must act responsibly, which inevitably results in personal limitations. Those who cannot accept limitations should avoid assuming leadership roles.

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Matot-Masei 5779-2019

“Jeremiah’s Prophecy: An Ancient Message for Contemporary Times”
(Revised and updated from Matot-Masei 5760-2000)

The message of prophet Jeremiah, which is read during the “Three Weeks,” is entirely appropriate for this period of sadness that we experience each year at this time. In addition, there are distinct and powerful parallels between the rebuke that Jeremiah gave to the ancient people, and our contemporary experiences.

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Bamidbar 5774-2014

“Counting the Jews, Again!”

For the third time in a little over a year, the Al-mighty commands that a census be taken of the Jewish People. Why the frequency, and for what purpose?

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Pinchas 5772-2012

“Transferring Power”

Some of the commentators suggest that Joshua was not the only candidate to succeed Moses as leader. Some even suggest that Joshua was not even Moses’ first choice. Why then was he chosen?

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Matot 5771-2011

“Leadership and its Moral Responsibilities”

Parashat Matot underscores the complexity of Jewish leadership. It is from the episode in this parasha that our rabbis derive the important principle that leaders are to be held responsible for the wrongdoings of the people, for they have the power and authority to protest.

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Yitro 5771-2011

"The Dark Side of Judaism"

Not only does the Torah revolutionize theology by declaring that Jewish religious leaders are fallible, it goes much further, often even highlighting their shortcomings. This is so very different from what is portrayed by other faith systems, where religious leaders are always infallible and never depicted as mistaken or ever saying or doing anything wrong.

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0 Comments8 Minutes

Nitzavim-Vayeilech 5769-2009

"Farewell to a Great Leader"

At age 120, Moses went out to speak to the people of Israel and console them over his impending death. The death of Moses brings to mind the recent passing of a great Jewish leader, Rabbi Zelik Epstein, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivah Shaar HaTorah, who was extremely helpful to NJOP with his courageous decisions and support of our vital work.

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Tazria-Metzorah 5769-2009

"And He Shall be Brought to the Priest"

The expression, "And he shall be brought to the priest" is repeated in each of this week's double parashiot, Tazria and Metzora. This recurring phrase is explained by various commentators as having important contemporary implications and bearing vital lessons for both Israel and American society.

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Yitro 5769-2009

"Ambassadors Needed"

Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, recommends establishing a Judicial system that can work efficiently to reduce the burdens on Moses and the people. Jethro's advice was not just about a judicial system. It was much more!

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0 Comments9 Minutes

Matot 5768-2008

"Striving for Refined Speech"

In this week's parasha, parashat Matot, we learn of the injunction against profane speech. It is from here that we learn not only to avoid negative speech, but to always strive to make our speech as refined as possible.

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B’ha’alot’cha 5768-2008

"The Gift of Spiritual Potential"

Perhaps greater than Moses' natural leadership abilities, his great brilliance and scholarship and teaching capabilities, and his extraordinary humility, was his unremitting and unconditional love for the Jewish people who tested him and rejected him so many times.

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0 Comments12 Minutes

Balak 5765-2005

"Bilaam, Prophet to the Nations"

The Midrash says that G-d gave the gentile nations a prophet of the stature of Bilaam so that the nations would not be able to say, "If we had a prophet, we would be as righteous as Israel." Instead of leading his people to good, Bilaam led the people to evil and corruption. But is it truly Bilaam and others like him who fail, or is it the failure of the Jews to provide a proper role model?

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Yitro 5765-2005

"Jethro's Advice to an Overburdened Leader"

Jethro warns his son-in-law, Moses, that he is in danger of burning out by biting off more than he can chew. It takes a great man like Moses to heed Jethro's difficult advice and share the leadership responsibilities with others. The well-being of the People of Israel was always Moses's utmost concern, hence, his decision to delegate authority resulted in great benefit for the People of Israel.

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Bamidbar 5763-2003

"The Role of the Levites, and the Service of Yeshiva Students in the Israeli Army"

The Tribe of Levi was not counted along with the men of the other tribes, since the Levites did not serve in the army of Israel. The Levites, in fact, served in the army of G-d. The role of the ancient Levites seems to justify the exemption of yeshiva students from the Israeli army. Should this ancient exemption influence the laws that are applied today?

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0 Comments10 Minutes

Shemini 5761 – 2001

"The Responsibilities of Leadership"

Some commentators suggest that the "strange fire" offered by Nadav and Avihu was an attempt to fulfill an urge they had for their own self-expression. The tragic story of Nadav and Avihu teaches that true leaders must act responsibly, which inevitably results in limitations. Those who do not want limitations should avoid assuming leadership roles.

Read More


0 Comments6 Minutes

Matot-Masei 5760-2000

"Jeremiah's Prophecy: An Ancient Message for Contemporary Times"

The message of Jeremiah, which is read during the Three Weeks, is entirely appropriate for this period of sadness that we experience at this time of the year. There are distinct parallels between the rebuke that Jeremiah gave to the ancient people and our contemporary experiences.

Read More


0 Comments11 Minutes