Va’etchanan 5771-2011

"The Ten Commandments: The Differences"

The fact that there are two versions of the Ten Commandments in the Torah with slight differences in the texts raises significant questions. These questions are confronted head-on by the incredibly intellectually honest approach of Jewish scholarship. This educational legacy of Judaism, which encourages students to constantly search for truth, has shaped young Jewish minds for millennia, resulting in unparalleled intellectual achievements.

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Yitro 5771-2011

"The Dark Side of Judaism"

Not only does the Torah revolutionize theology by declaring that Jewish religious leaders are fallible, it goes much further, often even highlighting their shortcomings. This is so very different from what is portrayed by other faith systems, where religious leaders are always infallible and never depicted as mistaken or ever saying or doing anything wrong.

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Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 5770-2010

"Loving Thy Neighbor"

The Torah's statement bidding the Jewish people to love one's neighbor as oneself is universally regarded as one of the greatest pronouncements of human morality. Nevertheless, it has been the subject of much vitriolic criticism.

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Tzav 5770-2010

"The Command"

Only with respect to the Olah, the burnt offering, does the Torah use the term "Tzav," command, rather than "say" or "speak." What is it about the burnt offering and the priests' relationship to it that requires the priests to be commanded to do this particular service properly and expeditiously?

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Vayikra 5770-2010

"Do Leaders Corrupt, or are They Corrupted?"

The first sin offering that is recorded in parashat Vayikra is the offering of the anointed priest. Regarding this sacrifice, an unresolved dispute comes to the surface, raising the issue of whether it is the leaders who lead the people astray or whether leaders are corrupted by their followers.

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Yitro 5770-2010

"The Arrival of Jethro"

Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, who was once the religious leader of Midian, leaves fame and fortune behind to cast his lot with the Jewish people and their G-d. Jethro, perhaps the first convert to Judaism, sets a high standard for future converts and returnees to Jewish observance.

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Terumah 5769-2009

"The Delicate Balance"

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch's interpretation of the difficult to comprehend details and furnishings of the Tabernacle teach us insightful life lessons. Among those lessons is that Israel's material and intellectual well-being stand under Divine protection. When Israel uses both of these endowments properly to further the ideals taught by Torah, then we as a people will be prosperous and safe. There is a grave danger lest prosperity become of primary importance, and intellectual advance be used to modify or reform the Torah.

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Terumah 5768-2008

"The Museum within the Tabernacle"

The Torah tells us that three items were stored in the Tabernacle for future generations, a flask of manna, some anointing oil, and the staff of Aaron that blossomed. The Talmud and the Midrashim add that the garments of the High Priest and the priest who led the Israelites in battle as well as the gifts from the Philistines when the Ark was returned were stored there as well. What purpose do these items serve?

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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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Yitro 5767-2007

"Will Our Children be Our Guarantors?"

The Midrash Tanchuma states that before He gave the Torah to the People of Israel, the Al-mighty insisted on guarantors. When the patriarchs were offered as guarantors, they were rejected. Only when the children of Israel were offered, did G-d accept. If our children are to effectively serve as guarantors, they must receive an intensive Jewish education of the highest quality.

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Behar-Bechukotai 5766-2006

"The Economics of Torah"

In parashat Bechukotai we learn of the obligation to bring the Second Tithes as well as Animal Tithes to Jerusalem. Why Jerusalem? Since Jerusalem served as the center of Jewish religious and educational life, it needed to be properly supported. It was also the Torah's way of engaging farmers, from distant communities, in the study of Torah when they visited Jerusalem to bring their tithes.

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Yitro 5766-2006

"Sanctify Them, Today and Tomorrow"

In parashat Yitro we read of the Revelation at Sinai, and the special preparations the people had to make for the Revelation. G-d tells Moses to inform the people that they should be sanctified "today and tomorrow." Our commentators state that "today" may be easy to remain sanctified, but "tomorrow" is not always easy. This message applies not only to the generation of the revelation at Sinai, but to us as well. The tests that the ancients faced are, in fact, the very same challenges that we face today in the 21st century.

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Va’eira 5766-2006

"Becoming Accustomed to the Burdens"

Why had the time now come to free Israel from bondage? While many reasons are offered, Rabbi Simcha Bunam of Peschischa suggests that G-d felt that the ancient Hebrews were becoming too accustomed to suffering--so it had to stop. A parallel may be drawn to contemporary times, when people become indifferent and unresponsive to the immorality of our own environment.

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Behar 5765-2005

"The Torah's Revolutionary Economic System"

Parashat Behar often gets lost in the shuffle following Passover and before the summer, and yet contains many revolutionary concepts, challenging the prevailing ideas of both capitalism and socialism. The Torah provides its own modified economic system that attempts to insure the humanity of all people in all situations.

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