Vayigash 5766-2006

"And Judah Approached"

In parashat Vayigash, scripture tells us that Judah approached "him," probably meaning Joseph. Our commentators struggle to understand the meaning of the word "Va'yee'gash." Whatever the meaning of the word, the context of the biblical story calls on every person to assume the mantle of courage and leadership, and to step in where necessary to show a sense of responsibility toward all Jews.

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Devarim 5765-2005

"The Book of Deuteronomy-Mishneh Torah and the Purpose of Repetition"

The book of Deuteronomy, known as Mishneh Torah, the repetition of the Torah, serves several important purposes as a complement to the first four books of the Torah: 1. It explains mitzvot that had already been mentioned 2. It provides additional details about previously mentioned narratives 3. It frequently serves as a forum for ethical teachings and lessons regarding reward and punishment 4. It introduces a host of new mitzvot.

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Chukat 5765-2005

"Moses gets Battered by the Commentaries"

The tragic episode of Moses hitting instead of speaking to the rock at May Meriva is one of the most difficult and enigmatic in the Torah. The commentators struggle mightily with this Torah portion. As a result, many sins, mistakes and transgressions are attributed to Moses and Aaron. Are they justified?

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Shelach 5764-2004

"Where Did the Spies Go Wrong?"

The Malbim, Rabbi Meir Yehudah Leibish, 1809-1879, offers a radically different interpretation of the story of the scouts. He proves that while the ten leaders begin as scouts, looking for the best lands for their individual tribes, they wind up as spies with a strategic military focus. As they travel through the land, their self-image changes. Losing faith and courage, they conclude that the people of Israel will never be able to take over the land of Canaan from the land's fearsome inhabitants.

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Eikev 5763-2003

"Is there Truth to the Notion of Spiritual Accountability?"

In the second paragraph of the Shema, we read of the Jew's relationship of responsibility and accountability toward G-d. Could it be that just as there is a physical accountability in the world, there is a spiritual accountability, as well? The Torah categorically affirms this notion.

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Bo 5763-2003

"The Subtle Secrets of the Ten Plagues"

Nothing in the Torah is arbitrary. Everything is well thought out and there for a purpose. The Divine accounting system often operates on the basis of midah kineged midah, that no act is ever unaccounted for, no good deed is ever uncompensated, and no evil deed ever goes unpunished. A careful study of the Ten Plagues with which the Egyptians were struck, uncovers an uncanny sense of balance, underscoring how the plagues were direct retribution for specific acts of persecution that the Egyptians visited upon the Israelite slaves.

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Mishpatim 5761-2001

"The 'Sophisticated' and 'Unsophisticated' Criminal"

In Jewish law, the punishment for stealthy theft is greater than that for violent theft. Perhaps the rabbis were trying to tell members of society that so-called "white collar" crimes are at least as serious and can be as devastating as what we commonly refer to as "blue collar" crimes.

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