Noah 5780-2019

“The Vital Importance of Truthful Judgment”
(Updated and Revised from Noah 5760-1999)

In the narrative of the Tower of Babel, the Bible depicts a would-be omniscient G-d as having to come down to see the city and the tower that the people had built. If G-d is truly omniscient, why should He have to come down; surely He knows of the wickedness of the people? The Torah is faced with a daunting challenge: Are moral lessons more important than theological truths?

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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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Acharei Mot 5779-2019

“The Forbidden Relationships Work Both Ways”
(Revised and updated from Acharei Mot 5760-2000)

Parashat Acharei Mot lists, in a very forceful manner, the rules and regulations regarding immoral and forbidden sexual relationships. It is this text that is read publicly at the afternoon Yom Kippur service in order to remind the Jewish people of proper moral conduct. However, it is also perhaps a reminder to G-d that just as He expects His people to be loyal to Him, so must He be loyal to His people and not exchange us for any other people.

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Re’eh 5771-2011

“Listening to the Message”

How does one remain moral in an increasingly immoral environment? Ethical and moral behavior doesn't simply develop through osmosis or from preaching. Judaism maintains that living a religiously observant life results in the ability to hear G-d’s voice among the conflicting messages competing for one’s attention in a noisy world.

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Noah 5771-2010

“Man’s Struggle with Evil”

In parashat Noah we learn much about man’s struggle with evil. Furthermore, there are quite a few unexpected similarities between the times of Noah and contemporary times.

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Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 5770-2010

"Loving Thy Neighbor"

The Torah's statement bidding the Jewish people to love one's neighbor as oneself is universally regarded as one of the greatest pronouncements of human morality. Nevertheless, it has been the subject of much vitriolic criticism.

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Bereshith 5770-2009

"The Hebrew Story of Creation and Its Parallels Among Other Civilizations"

While many are familiar with the Epic of Gilgamish, the Babylonian version of the flood story, few are familiar with the Babylonian epic of creation known as "Enuma Elish." Although the Babylonian myth contains a few similarities with the Biblical story of Creation, it differs significantly from the Biblical account and its revolutionary purpose.

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Bereshith 5769-2008

"The Development of Civilization as Recorded in Genesis"

The Torah is primarily a record of the theological developments and accomplishments of humankind. Only in an indirect manner does the Torah teach about cultural developments and the evolving skills of society. While it is related almost coincidently, the knowledge found in the Torah regarding ancient civilization is invaluable

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0 Comments7 Minutes

Shemot 5768-2007

"Who Were the Midwives?"

How did the Jews turn from acclaimed heroes in the time of Joseph into despised enemies in the period of only 100 years? Who exactly were the heroic midwives who risked their lives by defying Pharaoh and saving the Jewish male children?

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Lech Lecha 5768-2007

"The Battle of the Four Kings Against the Five"

Parashat Lech Lecha goes into great detail regarding the battle of the four kings against the five, raising questions of its significance. By studying the details of this battle, we learn many moral lessons, once again confirming that the Torah is primarily a guide for moral and ethical living, and not a book of history.

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Bereshith 5768-2007

"Starting All Over--Again!"

Many students of the Bible are under the misconception that the five books of Moses come to teach history or theology. The Torah is essentially a book of morality and ethics whose purpose is primarily to explain the very special covenental relationship that G-d has with the People of Israel. The story of creation and the entire book of Genesis come to affirm and elucidate that special relationship between G-d and His people.

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Bereshith 5767-2006

"Pardes--the Four Levels of Understanding Torah"

The weekly parasha, Bereishith, marks the renewal of the Torah reading cycle and exposes the true depths of understanding that is to be found in the study of Torah. To say that it contains a "paradise" of knowledge and understanding that is replete with Divine sparks of wisdom is in no way an exaggeration or hyperbole.

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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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Matot-Masei 5766-2006

"Taking a Stand Against the Banality of Evil"

In Parashat Matot, we learn that the Israelite soldiers are instructed to avenge the harlotry of Midianites that resulted in the deaths of 24,000 Israelites in a plague. Despite this exceptional instance, the Jewish soldiers are reluctant to kill the women and children until a Divine command is issued. Why a Divine command? To teach how concerned Judaism is that killing never ever becomes casual or mundane, and to assure that indifference to life never finds a home in the hearts of the Jewish people.

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Shelach 5766-2006

"Who was Caleb?"

Upon returning from scouting the Land of Israel, only two of the twelve tribal representatives, Joshua and Caleb, refuse to go along with the negative report of the scouts. Of the two, only Caleb confronted the popular leaders publicly. What was the source of Caleb's amazing strength and moral courage?

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0 Comments9 Minutes

Mikeitz 5766-2005

"Marketing G-d by Living Example"

Too often in the history of Judaism the lesson of the sanctification of G-d's name has been taught by those who were required to give up their lives. There is unfortunately little opportunity to learn the lesson of Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G-d's name) by living example. Yosef Hatzadik, Joseph the Righteous, is probably the first and most prominent example of one who sanctified G-d's name, and through whose actions and words was able to influence others to acknowledge G-d in their own lives.

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0 Comments9 Minutes

Kedoshim 5765-2005

"Living a Sanctified Life"

The revolutionary concept of living a sanctified life might seem daunting, but in reality it is a goal to be aspired to by every Jew. The exalted concept of being G-d-like is not out of the realm of human possibility.

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0 Comments5 Minutes

Eikev 5764-2004

"Battling the Contemporary Abominations"

Referring to idolatry, the Torah in Deuteronomy 7:26 states: "You shall not bring an abomination into your home. You shall surely loathe it and you shall surely abominate it, for it is something bad." It is fallacious to think that there is no idolatry today. While the debate rages concerning the impact of television on children and home life, internet and violent video games have been added to the mix. There is no question whether these "idolatries" are impacting on our homes and schools. The only question is: How much? Society today is facing a battle for its survival and the survival of our children's souls. We must aggressively do battle with these abundant evils that are rapidly chipping away at our morality and our humanity.

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Devarim 5763-2003

"The Gentle Reproof"

The book of Devarim records the words that were spoken by Moses in the last five weeks of his life, given as a last will and testament to his beloved people. In this parasha, Moses provides an example of how reproof should be given by alluding to the people indirectly, rather than announcing the exact sins that were committed. We may indeed learn from Moses how to give effective reproof with great gentleness.

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0 Comments13 Minutes

Matot-Masei 5763-2003

"The Massacre of the Midianites: Does Judaism Countenance Genocide?"

In parashat Matot, G-d tells Moses to mobilize the army of Israel and exact vengeance on the Midianites. The rabbis of old are troubled by this call. They explain that "genocide" was never countenanced by Jewish law, but rather that it was necessary to always first sue the enemy for peace and give them opportunity to flee if they refused to live in peace. Nevertheless, Jewish tradition teaches that one should not be overly compassionate, otherwise one will wind up being cruel at a time when compassion is appropriate.

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0 Comments7 Minutes

Noah 5763-2002

"The Story of Noah, Fact or Fantasy"

It is not at all surprising that many of the ancient near-East documents contain parallel stories of the flood. Perhaps the most famous is the Babylonian flood story known as the "Epic of Gilgamish." And yet, despite the parallels, the stories are profoundly different. While the details regarding the flood are similar, the Bible introduces a profound moral element. In the Biblical version G-d does not simply decide to destroy the world on a whim, but rather does so because of the corruption of the world's inhabitants. The fact that the Biblical story of the flood is not simply about gods who entertain themselves at humankind's expense is what makes the Noah story revolutionary and meaningful.

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0 Comments11 Minutes

Noah 5762-2001

"The 'Myth' of the Great Flood"

It is not at all surprising that many of the ancient near-East documents contain parallel stories of the flood. Perhaps the most famous is the Babylonian flood story known as the "Epic of Gilgamish." And yet, despite the parallels, the stories are profoundly different. While the details regarding the flood are similar, the Bible introduces a profound moral element. In the Biblical version, G-d does not simply decide to destroy the world on a whim, but rather does so because of the corruption of the world's inhabitants. The fact that the Biblical story of the flood is not simply about gods who entertain themselves at humankind's expense is what makes the Noah story revolutionary and meaningful.

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0 Comments10 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

Acharei Mot 5760-2000

"The Forbidden Relationships Work Both Ways"

Parashat Acharei Mot lists, in a very forceful manner, the rules and regulations regarding immoral and forbidden sexual relationships. It is this text that is read publicly at the afternoon Yom Kippur service in order to remind the Jewish people of proper moral conduct. However, it is also perhaps a reminder to G-d that just as He expects His people to be loyal to Him, so must He be loyal to His people and not exchange us for any other people.

Read More


0 Comments6 Minutes

Noah 5760-1999

"Does the Torah Ever Distort the Truth?"

In the story of the Tower of Babel, the Bible depicts a would-be Omniscient G-d as having to come down to see the city and the tower that the people had built. If G-d is truly Omniscient, why should He have to come down; surely He knows of the wickedness of the people? The Torah is faced with a formidable challenge: are moral lessons more important than theological truths?

Read More


0 Comments11 Minutes