v’Zot Habracha-Simchat Torah 5776-2015

“The Confluence of v’Zot Habracha and the Holiday”

There is a strong connection between the festival of Simchat Torah and parashat v’Zot Habrachah. It is in this parasha that Moses proclaims that the Torah that Moses commanded to us is the heritage of the congregation of Jacob. What is the difference between a “heritage” and an “inheritance,” and how is this distinction transmitted through the celebration of Simchat Torah?

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Kee Tavo 5775-2015

“Making The Final Commitment”

While encouraging the People of Israel to make the final commitment to the Al-mighty, Moses conveyed an important message to the people that is still relevant in our time, and can prove useful in our own lives.

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Tetzaveh 5775-2015

“The High Priest Wears the Names of Israel on His Heart”

The commentators suggest that while the priestly vestments serve to identify a priest, they also represent important ideas and messages that are reflected in the garments and have bearing on the priests’ actions and duties.

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Devarim 5774-2014

“Moses: The Lonely Leader”

According to the Gaon of Vilna, the connection between the challenge of leadership for Moses and the period of mourning for the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem is not only how these hardships came to be, but also the loneliness that both Moses and the city of Jerusalem experienced.

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Shemini 5773-2013

“Authentic Religious Ecstasy”

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik suggests that Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Abihu, were judged more harshly because they were in positions of leadership and punished more severely because they attempted to experience religious ecstasy through prohibited means.

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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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Behar-Bechukotai, Yom Yerushalayim 5772-2012

"Living Outside the Land of Israel"

Although the Midrash regards the importance of the mitzvah of dwelling in the land of Israel as equivalent in value to all the other Torah mitzvot combined, the debate still rages today regarding the obligation for all Jews to dwell in the land of Israel.

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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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Korach 5771-2011

“The Preciousness of Peace”

Because of the focus on the viciousness of the rebellion of Korach and his cohorts, few recognize the tireless efforts of Moses and Aaron to dissuade the rebels from rebelling and save them from destruction.

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Vayikra 5770-2010

"Do Leaders Corrupt, or are They Corrupted?"

The first sin offering that is recorded in parashat Vayikra is the offering of the anointed priest. Regarding this sacrifice, an unresolved dispute comes to the surface, raising the issue of whether it is the leaders who lead the people astray or whether leaders are corrupted by their followers.

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v’Zot Habracha-Simchat Torah 5770-2009

"The Confluence of v'Zot Habracha and the Holiday"

There is a strong connection between the festival of Simchat Torah and parashat v'Zot Habrachah. It is in this parasha that Moses proclaims that the Torah that Moses commanded to us is the heritage of the congregation of Jacob. What is the difference between a "heritage" and an "inheritance," and how is this distinction transmitted through the celebration of Simchat Torah?

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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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B’ha’alot’cha 5769-2009

"Would a Human Author Have Written this?"

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch points out in his commentary that Moses' request to his father-in-law Jethro to remain with the Jewish people and to serve as a guide for them, underscores the lack of even the most elementary leadership and organizational skills on the part of Moses. On the other hand, the fact that these and other unflattering portions are included in the Bible, clearly establishes that the Torah could not possibly be the work of any human author.

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Yom Kippur 5769-2008

"Difficult Transitions"

Transitions are always difficult. In parashat Vayeilech, we learn of the transfer of leadership from Moses to Joshua. In a Chassidic tale we learn about a Jewish feudal lord who had converted to Christianity, returning to the Jewish faith only moments before his death.

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Korach 5768-2008

"Datan and Abiram: The Protagonists"

Datan and Abiram, two members of the tribe of Reuben, are caught up in the rebellion of Korach and are swallowed along with Korach when the earth opens. The Midrash sees Datan and Abiram as the paradigm of effrontery, rebellion, and brazenness, the ultimate ingrates who devote their lives to undermining Moses and the authority of G-d.

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Shelach 5768-2008

"We Were like Grasshoppers in Our Eyes"

There is grave danger in the Jewish people seeing themselves as helpless and powerless. Very often this self-perception is a self-fulfilling reality. The ancient scouts saw themselves as pygmies and grasshoppers and were perceived by others as impotent and weak. We dare not allow that to happen to our generation. Strong leadership depends upon our faith in G-d and own self-confidence and self-esteem.

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Chayei Sarah 5768-2007

"O Captain, My Captain"

Abraham passes away at age 175. His passing and his burial are described in only four verses. Yet there is much to be gleaned from the nuances of the text. The Midrash and the sages derive many powerful lessons from this brief biblical passage.

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Shoftim 5767-2007

"The King of Israel: The Privileged and Obligated Monarch"

In parashat Shoftim, we read about the appointment of a king for the people in the land of Israel. Is this appointment optional or required? What rules "govern" the king? What kind of government does Judaism advocate--a theocracy, a monarchy or a democracy?

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B’shalach 5766-2006

"The Bones of Joseph "

With the more than 2 1/2 million people waiting to be rescued, and thousands of logistical details to review, Moses diverts his attention from the people, to personally attend to the removal and transport of the bones of Joseph from Egypt to Canaan. From this act of unconditional love performed by Moses our leader, our commentators derive many important lessons regarding effective leadership and establishing proper priorities in life.

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Korach 5764-2004

"The Power of Strife"

Korach was unable to control his rage and his wrath. He succeeded in stirring up hundreds of people. Had he been willing to meet with Moses and discuss his differences, there might have been a reconciliation and a much different end for himself and his followers.

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0 Comments9 Minutes