Vayikra 5765-2005

"The 'Sacrifice' That Lasts Forever "

Much of the Book of Leviticus, especially parashat Vayikra, deals with the rites and rituals of animal sacrifice. Sacrifice, however, does not only mean the sacrifice of offerings in the Tabernacle, it also means the Jews preparedness to do everything that is necessary to guarantee that Jewish children are given proper Jewish educations, thus ensuring a bright Jewish future.

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B’shalach 5765-2005

"Vah'chah'moo'shim“-A Call to Arms"

In parashat B'shalach the Torah tells us that the Israelites went out of Egypt, "chah'moo'shim," usually translated as "armed." Chah'moo'shim however is a word that has many interpretations and many deep and subtle meanings that teach us that much more than physical/military defense is needed to protect the Jewish people.

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Bo 5765-2005

"Opening Their Hearts so They Can Hear"

Among the many fascinating verses of Parashat Bo, we find the actual sources of three of the four sons that are recorded in the Passover Hagaddah. There is a profound lesson to be learned from all the Biblical sources, but especially the verses that apply to the Rasha, the so-called "prodigal child."

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Shoftim 5764-2004

"Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue"

The Torah's ideas of a judicial system and the pursuit of justice have revolutionized jurisprudence throughout the world.

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Balak 5764-2004

"How Goodly are Your Tents O' Jacob?"

Targum Jonathan, the Aramaic translation of the Torah, says that Bilaam saw the schools of the Jewish people and was moved to say: "How goodly are your tents O' Jacob?" The "number one" priority in Jewish life is to ensure that committed Jews remain committed. There is no better way of ensuring that commitment, than by providing outstanding intensive Jewish education for our children. If we fail to do so, then our Jewish future is in jeopardy.

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Simchat Torah 5764-2003

"Celebrating Torah"

Torah does not just punctuate, it permeates, the life of a Jew. Torah is meant to be nothing less than the Jews' preoccupation, all of the days and nights of one's life. Like the air that is breathed, or the heart that beats within a human chest, there is no possibility of Jewish life absent of Torah.

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Pinchas 5763-2003

"Can a Perfect G-d Sin?"

In the long list of sacrifices that appears in parashat Pinchas, we learn of the sin offering that is brought on Rosh Chodesh, the new moon sacrifice. In Numbers 28:15, the Torah instructs the priest to bring one he-goat "for a sin offering unto the Lord." However, the Hebrew "l'cha'taht la'Hashem" really means "a sin offering for G-d." The Talmud in Chullin 60b suggests that each month a sin offering is brought for G-d as an atonement for G-d's "sin" of reducing the size of the moon. There is much to learn from G-d's "sin offering."

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Chukat-Balak 5763-2003

"How to Market G-d!"

In parashat Chukat, the Jewish people, once again challenge G-d by speaking against the Al-mighty and Moses and asking, "Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness...?" In response to this arrogant display of lack of faith, G-d sends fiery serpents to attack the rebellious hordes, and a large number of people die. To stop the plague, Moses builds a fiery serpent and places it on a tall pole so that all who are bitten will look at the serpent and live. What is the role of this serpent? After all, it seems to be very much akin to voodoo.

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Emor-Yom Ha’atzmaut 5763-2003

"The Counting of the Omer and the Celebration of Israel's Independence"

The counting of the Omer underscores the ultimate purpose of the Exodus from Egypt--the giving of the Torah! Therefore the period from the second day of Passover until the sixth day of Sivan when the festival of Shavuot is celebrated, is counted with great enthusiasm. Counting the Omer is always done in ascending numerical order rather than descending order, underscoring its positive, joyous and optimistic nature--celebrating the victory of light over darkness, morality over immorality and love over hate.

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Terumah 5763-2003

"The Mishkan and the Sanctity of the Jewish Home"

The fact that the Mishkan--the Tabernacle--and its central furnishings so closely resemble the Jewish home, underscores the sanctity of the Jewish domicile. By analyzing each of the Tabernacle's furnishings, we uncover the invaluable symbolic meanings of these furnishings that deserve to be found in every Jewish home.

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Yitro 5763-2003

"Proving G-d's existence"

While we like to speak of "proof" of G-d's existence, Judaism does not really encourage this course of intellectual exercise, simply because the "finite" human mind cannot possibly comprehend the "Infinite." But while there may not be any "ultimate" proof of G-d's existence, there are surely many, many indications and abundant evidence. Indeed, a most persuasive case, from a variety of disciplines, can be made for G-d's existence.

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Bo 5763-2003

"The Subtle Secrets of the Ten Plagues"

Nothing in the Torah is arbitrary. Everything is well thought out and there for a purpose. The Divine accounting system often operates on the basis of midah kineged midah, that no act is ever unaccounted for, no good deed is ever uncompensated, and no evil deed ever goes unpunished. A careful study of the Ten Plagues with which the Egyptians were struck, uncovers an uncanny sense of balance, underscoring how the plagues were direct retribution for specific acts of persecution that the Egyptians visited upon the Israelite slaves.

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Vayishlach 5763-2002

"We Can Forgive the Arabs for Killing Our Children..."

As we delve into the study of Torah, we often find that seemingly insignificant verses in the Torah contain revolutionary insights about life. In 1972, Golda Meir made a widely acclaimed statement: We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children, but we can not forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. Who would ever imagine that our commentaries find a similar message in parashat Vayishlach?

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Terumah 5762-2002

"The Centrality of Torah"

The Holy Ark was the central furnishing of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), which housed the Torah. Since Torah is the elixir of life for the Jewish people, the Ark, with its nonremovable staves, went with the people whenever they moved. This ancient practice teaches us that at the very core of our homes must be the Torah.

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Yitro 5762-2002

"Structural Secrets of the Decalogue"

The Torah contains some very powerful subliminal messages that may not be articulated in the text, or written in the letters and the ink, but may be found instead in the white spaces. That is why there are many lessons to be learned from simply studying the structure of the Ten Commandments.

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B’shalach 5762-2002

"G-d: The Source of Sweetness"

Immediately after the great miracle of the parting of the seas, the Jews arrived at a place called Marah, where the water had turned bitter. G-d tells Moses to throw a bitter branch into the water and miraculously the waters become sweet. Our commentators suggest that the Torah wishes to convey the message to humankind that ultimately there is really no such thing as "bitter or sweet." Whatever we experience is merely a reflection of G-d's will.

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Vayeitzei 5762-2001

"From Ish Tam to Business Mogul: The Transformation of Jacob"

How does Jacob, who is described in the Torah as an ingenuous man who sits and studies in the tent, become so incredibly successful-- a master businessman? According to Professor Ernest Van Den Haag much of it has to do with education, one of the most exalted values in Jewish life. It could be that when Jacob took a 14 year detour to study at the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever before he arrived at Laban's, he sharpened his cerebral skills to prepare for his encounter with the wily Laban. Could it be that Jacob's "Yeshiva" education also contributed to his incredible financial successes?

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Matot-Masei 5760-2000

"Jeremiah's Prophecy: An Ancient Message for Contemporary Times"

The message of Jeremiah, which is read during the Three Weeks, is entirely appropriate for this period of sadness that we experience at this time of the year. There are distinct parallels between the rebuke that Jeremiah gave to the ancient people and our contemporary experiences.

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Pinchas 5760-2000

"The Daughters of Tzelafchad: Legitimate Feminist Claims"

Distinguishing between legitimate and non-legitimate claims has become a fine art, especially when "political correctness" is mixed into the brew. In parashat Pinchas, we encounter the claim of the daughters of Tzelafchad who win the right to inherit their father's ancestral land in Israel. Along with other issues concerning women that are found in the Torah, the case of Tzelafchad's daughters underscores that Judaism is really light-years ahead of other civilizations in establishing fair and equitable parameters for Jewish women.

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Behar 5760-2000

"Wronging One Another The Torah's Unique View Point"

Jewish law maintains that especially vulnerable people must be protected from abuse. Therefore, one is forbidden to say even truthful things that are hurtful to others. The Torah provides many remarkable insights and directives that are intended to help people and society become more sensitive to one another.

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Terumah-Purim 5760-2000

"The Mishkan: Underscoring the Centrality of the Home in Jewish Life"

The Mishkan--the Tabernacle--is very much like a home, and has all the furnishings that are found in a home. The fact that our synagogue is called a Beit Kinesset, a house of coming together, underscores the importance of the home. Unless our homes serve as dwelling places for G-d, there will be little chance that our religion will be effectively communicated in our synagogues or in our temples.

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Yitro 5760-2000

"An Encounter with Jethro and the Non-Jewish World"

3,300 years ago, when xenophobia reigned supreme throughout the ancient world, the Torah admonished Jews not to reject sage advice simply because it emanates from a non-Jewish source. In fact, Jews are encouraged to look for good and healthy ideas anywhere in the world, Jewish and secular, and embrace those ideas with open arms.

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B’shalach 5760-2000

"The Shira: Source of all Song"

According to Jewish tradition, all song emanates from the purity and devotion of the song that the people of Israel sang over three thousand years ago at the crossing of the Red Sea.

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0 Comments8 Minutes