Vayakhel-Pekudei 5781-2021

“The Original Jewish Renewal Movement”
(Updated and revised from Vayakhel-Pekudei 5762-2002)

On the Sabbath prior to the new month of Nissan, a portion known as Parashat Hachodesh is read, announcing the arrival of the new month of Nissan, the first month of the calendar year. Nissan is the month of redemption and salvation. It is a time when the Jewish people burst forth from darkness and despair to allow the glory of G-d to shine forth. This is the original Jewish renewal movement.

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Passover II /Final Days 5778-2018

“Passover: The Final Days ”

The splitting of the Red Sea was not only necessary to ensure the physical rescue of the Israelites, but also to prepare the people for their new future in the Promised Land.

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Shoftim 5777-2017

“Judaism and the Principle of the Sanctity of Human Life”

The principle of the sanctity of life, a foremost principle in Judaism, is highlighted on multiple occasions in parashat Shoftim.

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Passover 5777-2017

“לֶחֶם עֹנִי --Lechem Oni: The Bread of Affliction

Matzah is referred to in scripture as "Lechem Oni," the bread of affliction. It is important for contemporary Jews to remember the message and meaning of "Lechem Oni," during our own Passover celebrations.

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B’shalach 5777-2017

“Miriam Leads the Women in Song"

In this week’s parasha, Miriam leads the women in song. It underscores the specialness of Miriam and the women of her generation, but also raises a host of issues regarding women and public singing.

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Bo 5777-2017

"And the People Bowed their Heads and Prostrated Themselves"

Why did the People of Israel bow after hearing the laws and rituals of Passover?

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Pinchas 5776-2016

“Pinchas the Zealot, and King David"

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik explains why Pinchas the zealot, who had blood on his hands, was allowed to serve in the Holy Tabernacle as a priest, while King David was not permitted to build the Temple in Jerusalem.

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Chayei Sarah 5776-2015

“The Legacy of Ishmael”

The tendency of the descendants of Jacob to diminish the “specialness” of the children of Ishmael may be understandable, especially in light of the painful contemporary events. Nevertheless, upon examining the Biblical sources, it is impossible to deny the special qualities and endowments of the children of Ishmael.

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Tazria-Metzorah-Yom Ha’atzmaut 5775-2015

“Finding the Silver Lining”

The ancient biblical affliction--Tzaraat, seems to convey the message that affliction and disease can at times be redemptive.

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Nitzavim-Vayeilech 5774-2014

“Repentance-With a Little Help from our Friend in Heaven!”

After numerous dreaded imprecations, the Torah predicts that the People Of Israel will repent and will be returned by G-d to their land. The Al-mighty even promises to assist the people in their process of repentance.

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Bechukotai 5774-2014

“The Role of Exile in Jewish Theology”

What is the purpose of exile and what role does exile play in Jewish history?

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Nitzavim-Rosh Hashana 5773-2012

“The Return to G-d”

Our rabbis declare that in the place where the penitents stand, even the most righteous cannot stand. Why should G-d feel closer to the penitent than to one who has never sinned?

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Passover 5769-2009

"What is the Prophet Elijah Doing at Our Passover Seder?"

What is Elijah, the zealous and angry prophet of Israel, doing at our joyous Passover Seder? This seemingly inappropriate guest turns out to be a most appropriate visitor who adds important dimensions to our Passover Seder.

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Bo 5769-2009

"It's Payback Time!"

In parashat Bo, the Torah states that the male firstling of every donkey must be redeemed with a lamb. If it is not redeemed, then it must be killed by breaking its neck. From this, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch learns that, "He who selfishly refuses to redeem his donkey, is himself sentencing it [his possessions] to destruction." Are we now witnessing such a period in Jewish life? Is it because of our failure to use our possessions properly during the many years of abundance that we are witnessing the evaporation of massive amounts of Jewish wealth?

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Va’etchanan-Tisha B’Av 5768-2008

"A Hopeful Message for Jewish Future"

In parashat Va’etchanan, we find the well-known citation, “Kee to’leed ba’neem,” which is read on Tisha B’Av. It predicts that the Jewish people will stray from G-d and commit horrible sins. And yet, in one of the most optimistic statements, G-d assures His people that they will always be welcomed back with open arms, no matter how far they stray.

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Nitzavim-Vayeilech 5767-2007

"The Choosing People"

According to Dr. Yisrael Eldad, the greatest of all the blessings bestowed on humankind is the ability, highlighted in parashat Nitzavim, to choose. This is what gives meaning to human life and elevates it above all other creations. It is not so much how we make our living that determines our worth. It is how we live our lives that has the power to render us to be of infinite value.

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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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Shemot 5765-2004

"In the Merit of Miriam"

In this week's parasha we learn of the birth and development of Moses. We also learn, albeit anonymously, of his mother, father and sister. The Midrash, however, builds up the role of Miriam (Moses' sister), portraying her as a formidable savior and heroine of her people.

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Vayakhel-Pekudei 5764-2004

"Celebrating the Month of Nisan"

The Jewish month of Nisan, the first month that was celebrated by Israel after the birth of the Jewish nation, is heralded each year by an additional reading from the Torah on Shabbat HaChodesh. This special Shabbat serves as a reminder to Jews that G-d grants His people solace in times of grief, support in the face of challenge, and light in the darkest of hours. The month of Nisan signals that redemption and renewal are in the air.

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Haazinu 5763-2002

"Anniversary of September 11th"

The fact that "9/11" occurred during the Ten Days of Penitence may have been G-d's way of urging us to be more optimistic and upbeat about our faith. Hopefully, the clouds will now begin to disperse and the sun will shine through from behind the vast frightening darkness. Perhaps the glow of redemption is at hand.

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Tzav 5762-2002

"Understanding Shabbat Hagadol"

Our commentators offer a host of reasons to explain why the Sabbath prior to Passover is called by the grand name "Shabbat Hagadol," the Great Sabbath. Whatever the reason for this Sabbath to be given such a distinguished name, it is always a very special Sabbath for the Jewish people.

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Vayakhel-Pekudei 5762-2002

"The Original Jewish Renewal Movement"

On the Sabbath prior to the new month of Nisan, a portion known as Parashat Hachodesh is read, announcing the arrival of the new month of Nisan, the first month of the year. Nisan is the month of redemption and salvation. It is a time when the Jewish people burst forth from darkness and despair to allow the glory of G-d to shine forth. This is the original Jewish renewal movement.

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Nitzavim 5761-2001

"Striving to Reach Heaven During the Days of Awe"

During the period of selichot, the Jewish people have a unique opportunity to ascend and grow morally and religiously. It is an opportunity for each of us to improve our attitudes and behaviors, to work on our relationships with humans and with G-d. If we strive to reach heaven, we can rest assured that we will be blessed, because we are on the right track.

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