B’ha’a’lot’cha 5780-2020

The Torah’s Attitude toward Converts
(Revised and Updated from Parashat B’ha’a’lot’cha 5761-2001)

In parashat B’ha’alot’cha we learn that converts are required to participate in the Pascal offering even though they never experienced the exodus from Egypt. The Passover rituals teach that converts participate equally in the performance of all the commandments. Converts have played an illustrious role in Judaism. These “strangers” must be treated with great respect and sensitivity. In fact, perhaps, we are all descendants of converts, which is why the Torah bids us to conscientiously fulfill the very special mitzvah of loving the stranger.

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Matot-Masei 5773-2013

“Pinchas Avenges the Midianites”

Why is the zealous Pinchas chosen to lead the people of Israel into battle against the Midianites?

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Vayeira 5772-2011

“Were Lot’s Daughters Moral or Immoral?”

After the destruction of Sodom, Lot’s daughters, thinking that the whole world had been destroyed, ply their father with wine and bear children with him. The commentators struggle with their actions.

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Vayeishev 5771-2010

"Tamar: The Paradigm of an Heroic Woman”

Two women play key roles in parashat Vayeishev. One of them, Tamar, emerges as a paradigm of an heroic woman and goes on to impact profoundly on the destiny of the people of Israel.

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Shavuot 5769-2009

"Mother of Royalty"

In the book of Kings, it is stated that King Solomon, set a chair for the "king's mother." In the Talmud, Rav Elazar explains that this referred not to Bathsheba, but rather to the "Mother of Royalty," Ruth. It was the Moabite princess, Ruth, who preserved the quality of loving-kindness that had been long lost amongst the children of Abraham, and reintroduced loving-kindness to the world. We now pray that salvation in our time shall also come from an unexpected and remote source, to enlighten us and redeem our world as well.

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Chayei Sara 5766-2005

"Who Is Keturah?"

Our rabbis debate who was "Keturah," the new wife that Abraham takes at the end of parashat Chayei Sarah. There are those that say that she was an entirely new wife. Others argue that Keturah is really Hagar, whom Abraham brought back and remarried. In his mission to be "Av hamon goyim"--a father to many nations--Abraham has six additional children with Keturah and five grandchildren. It is not unlikely that these children, grandchildren and great grandchildren influenced the world with the little Abrahamic tradition that they undoubtedly imbibed from their grandfather and great grandfather.

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Naso 5764-2004

"Our Brother, Our Sister--the Proselyte"

Parashat Naso contains a special law regarding making restitution to the proselyte--the righteous convert to Judaism. Converts have played, and continue to play, a key role in Jewish life. It is, therefore, not at all surprising that the mitzvah of loving and caring for the convert is mentioned 36 times in the Torah, more than any other mitzvah.

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B’ha’alot’cha 5761-2001

"The Torah's Attitude Toward Converts"

In parashat B'ha'alot'cha we learn that converts are required to participate in the Pascal offering even though they never experienced the exodus from Egypt. The Passover rituals teach that converts participate equally in the performance of all the commandments. Converts have played an illustrious role in Judaism. These "strangers" must be treated with great sensitivity. In fact, perhaps, we are all converts and that is why the Torah bids us to fulfill the very special mitzvah of loving the stranger.

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Lech Lecha 5761-2000

"Lot, Nephew of Abram: The Promise and the Tragedy"

Abram was very close to his orphaned nephew, Lot, and did his best to educate him in the ways of morality and ethics, but Abram and Lot soon grow apart because of Lot's obsession with comfort and wealth. At first, Lot showed great promise. In fact, he probably could have been the material and spiritual heir of Abram, but instead chose the luscious plain--he chose Sodom.

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