Va’etchanan 5780-2020

“The Mandate for Parental Involvement in Jewish Education”
(updated and revised from Va’etchanan 5761-2001)

The phrase “V’shee’nan’tahm l’vah’neh’chah” and you shall teach your children, found in the Shema prayer, underscores the Torah’s mandate requiring Jews to educate their children. There is no such thing as overdosing on Jewish education, or being too passionate or too extreme about the value of Jewish education. Parents must not compromise on Jewish education. The alternative is very much Jewish oblivion.

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Shelach 5779-2019

"Finding Meaning in the Rituals"
(Revised and updated from Shelach 5760-2000)

In parashat Shelach we read the well-known third paragraph of the Shema prayer concerning the Tzitzit, the fringes. It is one thing to profess love of G-d and to accept responsibility and accountability. But, the bottom line in Judaism is always action! By emphasizing the ritual of Tzitzit, fringes, our sages tell us that the essence of our relationship with G-d is how we act toward Him. Professing our love for Him and accepting responsibility and accountability is simply not enough. This, once again, confirms that in Judaism, “rituals work,”–-they really do.

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Va’etchanan 5772-2012

"The Magic of the Mezuzah"

In this week’s parasha, parashat Va’etchanan, we encounter the first of two textual references to the mitzvah of mezuzah that are found in the Torah. The mezuzah is one of the most widely known rituals of Judaism. Among other purposes, it serves to strengthen Jewish identity.

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Shoftim 5770-2010

"Enmity"

Enmity is regarded by Judaism as so corrosive that even hating one's friend in one's heart is explicitly prohibited by the Torah. The Talmudic interpretation of a verse in parashat Shoftim offers a surprising definition of "enemy."

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B’shalach 5768-2008

"Finding Meaning in the 'Lost Verses'"

In the intensity of Scripture's description of the splitting of the Red Sea, a number of important verses are overshadowed and neglected. Doing what is just in G-d's eyes is such a verse. Its multiple messages are critical to living a good and just life. We dare not let them fall by the wayside.

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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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Vayigash 5765-2004

"And He Fell On His Neck and Wept"

At the moment of the dramatic reunion of Jacob and his beloved son Joseph that takes place in parashat Vayigash, Scripture tells us that "he fell on his neck." However, we don't know whether Jacob fell on Joseph's neck or vice versa. The rabbis explore this issue and suggest a number of truly profound insights.

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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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Pekudei 5763-2003

"The Lesson of the Basin: 'Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover'"

According to tradition, the basin that contained the sacred water in the Tabernacle was made of the bronze mirrors that the mirrors used in Egypt to seduce their husbands who had separated from them, not willing to produce children who might be murdered by the Egyptians. Moses, however, was reluctant to accept the bronze from the mirrors considering them objects of vanity. G-d responds that the mirrors are dearer to Him than anything else.

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Va’etchanan 5761-2001

"The Mandate for Parental Involvement in Jewish Education"

The phrase "V'shee'nan'tahm l'vah'neh'chah" and you shall teach your children, found in the Shema, underscores the Torah's mandate requiring Jews to educate their children. There is no such thing as overdosing on Jewish education, or being too zealous or too extreme about Jewish education. Parents must not compromise on Jewish education. The alternative is very much Jewish oblivion.

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

Shelach 5760-2000

"Finding Meaning in the Rituals"

In parashat Shelach we read the well-known third paragraph of the Shema prayer concerning the tzitzit, the fringes. It is one thing to profess love of G-d and to accept responsibility and accountability. But the bottom line is: actions! By emphasizing the ritual of tzitzit, fringes, our sages tell us that the bottom line in our relationship with G-d is how we act toward Him. Professing our love for Him and accepting responsibility and accountability is simply not enough. This, once again, confirms that in Judaism, "rituals work"--they really do.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes