Tazria-Metzorah 5772-2012

“The Essential Ingredient for Repentance and Prayer--Humility”

The highly symbolic ritual of purification of the person stricken with the Tzaraat disease has much to teach us about achieving proper Teshuva (repentance) and the art of offering exalted prayer.

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Rosh Hashana-Nitzavim 5769-2008

"Hewers of Wood and Drawers of Water"

In this parasha, which contains many cogent Rosh Hashana messages, Moses calls all the people of Israel together on the last day of his life to reaffirm the people's covenant with G-d, making a point of calling the hewers of the wood and the drawers of water. The Torah, in effect, warns us never to judge people by their professions or outward appearances. We hope that in these Days of Judgment, the Al-mighty will judge us favorably as well.

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Pinchas 5765-2005

"Whatever Became of the Sons of Korach?"

Appearing very much out of place in parashat Pinchas is a verse that informs us that the sons of Korach did not die. What was their fate, and how did they save themselves? What lessons may contemporaries learn from their actions?

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Yom Kippur 5765-2004

"G-d's Gift to His People on Yom Kippur"

One expects sinners and criminals to pay for their sins and crimes, either by way of monetary assessment or physical punishment such as incarceration. And yet, the Divine method of judgment is so different. When the Al-mighty grants forgiveness, He wipes the slate clean and says "You've sinned, you've trespassed--just don't do it anymore." There is no expectation of compensation or further punishment. Forgiveness has been granted! It is a Divine gift based purely on G-d's love for His people.

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Nitzavim-Vayeilech 5764-2004

"Hastening the Messiah"

Our rabbis see in the verses of parashat Nitzavim an allusion to the Messianic era. Moses predicts that the children of Israel will return to the L-rd their G-d, and will listen to G-d's voice. The Jewish people can hasten the Messiah's arrival by doing what is right and just in G-d's eyes.

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Rosh Hashana 5763-2002

"A Message for the High Holy Days: 'Export, Export!'"

During the period of the Ten Days of Penitence, we need to make our lives more spiritually meaningful. It is during these ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur that we must make a particularly strong effort to "export" good deeds and acts of kindness.

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Kee Teitzei 5762-2002

"Transforming an Enemy Into a Friend"

The Torah contains two quite remarkable laws concerning the treatment of animals. In parashat Kee Teitzei, we learn of the law of teh'eenah, that we must help a friend load an animal whose load is falling off. In parasahat Mishpatim, we learn the law of peh'reekah, of helping a friend unload an animal that is falling under its load. From the Talmudic discussion concerning one who is confronted with two animals, one that needs to be loaded and another that needs to be unloaded, we learn some remarkable laws about both animals and human beings.

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Haazinu 5762-2001

“The Ten Days of Teshuva: A Propitious Time for Repentance”

Our rabbis say that the month of Tishrei is a propitious time for Teshuva, repentance. It is a time when G-d comes out into the “field” to meet us. G-d does not desire for anyone to die, but rather that the wicked will return from their evil ways and survive.

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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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Devarim-Tisha B’Av 5761-2001

"Eichah, The Annual Search for Meaning and Introspection"

In order for the Fast of the 9th of Av to be meaningful, it is necessary for us to focus on the proper message. Eichah and Ah'yeka are two of the prominent themes of Tisha Ba'Av. G-d asks the Jews: Where are you? What have you done with your lives? How can this tragedy have possibly happened? How can we improve ourselves?

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Yom Kippur 5761-2000

"The Thrill of Coming Home"

The month of Elul and the early days of Tishrei between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are universally regarded as propitious times for repentance and return. As G-d draws closer to us during this period, we need to draw closer to Him.

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Yom Kippur 5760-1999

"How Does G-d Judge?"

Since we never know the value that the Divine "tribunal" ascribes to our deeds or misdeeds, we mortals need to be constantly aware that what may seem in our eyes as trivial or simple transgressions may appear in G-d's eyes as very serious breaches and violations. This "unknown factor" is one of the major challenges of sincere Teshuva (repentance).

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