Toledot 5769-2008

"The Blessings of a Tzaddik"

Isaac wants to bless his son Esau. Rebecca feels that Jacob is more deserving of the blessing. Does a tzaddik (a righteous person) really have the power to bestow blessings on others? Don't all blessings really belong to G-d?

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Yom Kippur 5768-2007

"The Role of the Cantor in the High Holiday Services"

After the Temples' destruction, the majestic service of ancient times could no longer be replicated. Instead, today, the cantor, who acts as the community representative, stands symbolically in the role of the High Priest. Many other holiday rituals underscore the connection between the High Priest and today's cantor.

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Rosh Hashana 5768-2007

"The Sounding of the Shofar"

What are the reasons for the sounding of the shofar, and what are its meanings? Why do we sound 100 blasts of the shofar? What should be our proper inner intentions and thoughts when the shofar is sounded?

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Devarim-Tisha B’Av 5766-2006

"Isaiah's Message to Contemporary Jews"

The powerful message found in the first chapter of Isaiah is entirely appropriate for the Tisha B'Av period. The prophet exhorts the Jewish people to take the performance of their ritual mitzvot more seriously, to invest deeper meaning in their religious observance, and to enrich these spiritual practices with greater sincerity and passion.

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Tzav 5766-2006

"Zevach Sh'lamim --Learning to Celebrate Life"

Among the varied sacrifices that the ancient Israelites offered, one of the most intriguing was the Zevach Sh'lamim, the Peace offering, that includes the thanksgiving offering. Our sages teach that the thanksgiving offering will never cease, and that the prayers of thanksgiving will never be discontinued. It is the duty of all of humankind to learn how to properly celebrate life, so that we may sufficiently appreciate what we have, and with profound gratitude express how truly great the gifts of our lives are.

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Terumah 5766-2006

"Make for Me a Sanctuary, And I Shall Dwell in Their Midst"

The syntax of the verse "and they shall make for Me a sanctuary, and I shall dwell among them," is rather odd. The purpose of this strangely constructed verse is to teach that G-d does not dwell in a sanctuary, but rather among the people of Israel. The questions remain: How are Jews to develop true passion in their relationship with G-d? How are we to light the fire that will ignite our hearts and souls in our worship of the Al-mighty G-d?

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Passover II 5765-2005

"On the Seventh Day the Walls of Water Split"

According to tradition, the children of Israel marched through the Sea of Reeds (the Red Sea) on the seventh day of Passover. The Torah in Exodus 14 declares twice that "the waters were a wall for them on their right and on their left." This unusual repetition of the phrase begs elucidation, and, of course, there is much to learn from this repetition.

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Tzav 5765-2005

"Do Sacrifices Have Any Relevance for Us Today?"

Our rabbis ask if the ancient sacrificial rituals have any relevance for us today. They respond by saying that both prayer and Torah study are meaningful contemporary substitutes for sacrifices, especially if we pray and study with full-hearted enthusiasm and proper awareness. If we do so, it is considered as if we have rebuilt the Temple and restored the altar to its ancient place of glory.

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Re’eh 5764-2004

"Identifying a True Prophet"

Identifying and distinguishing a true prophet from a false prophet is rather difficult. It is particularly complicated because the Torah maintains that the prophecies and predictions of false prophets may come true, and that the message of even a true prophet may, at times, not be fulfilled. The issue of identifying true prophecy has been fraught with danger for the Jews, especially during the last 2000 years of Christian history.

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Va’etchanan 5763-2003

"Why the Sh'ma?"

The Sh'ma prayer is the central prayer that speaks of the acceptance of the dominion of G-d upon us. Two major questions come immediately to mind. Why do our rabbis speak of this text, calling it the acceptance of the "yoke of heaven," a phrase that is rather intimidating and seemingly overbearing? Another major question that is bothersome is the nature of the first line of the Shema. Why are we told to "love" the L-rd, with all our hearts, soul, and might? Shouldn't we be told to "believe" in the L-rd, our G-d, with all our heart, souls, and might?

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Tetzaveh 5762-2002

"The Korban Tamid--a Lesson in Consistency"

The Tamid, the perpetual offering, was brought every morning and afternoon of every day of the year. Unfortunately, we no longer have a Temple and can no longer offer sacrifices. All we have is prayer. Now we must show our consistency and faithfulness to G-d through our prayers.

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Vayeilech 5761-2001

"Appreciating One's Own Inner Worth"

Unfortunately, there are many who feel themselves unworthy of G-d's forgiveness, or unworthy of participating in the communal contrition of the Jewish people. Judaism rejects that idea, insisting that each and every soul is precious to G-d, and qualifies for Divine forgiveness.

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0 Comments10 Minutes