B’shalach 5770-2010

"Va'chamushim - Armed or Otherwise"

When the enslaved Israelites finally leave Egypt, Scripture tells us that they leave "Chamushim," generally translated as armed. The commentators, however, offer many interpretations for the word Chamushim. Even though they are quite different from one another, each interpretation has much validity.

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Shoftim 5768-2008

"Waste Not--Want Not"

A single isolated law prohibiting chopping down trees in times of war has evolved into a fundamental body of vital precepts, which prohibit the wanton waste and the callous destruction of property and nature.

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Korach 5767-2007

"Agonizing Over Collective Punishment"

The essence of the argument that Moses and Aaron present to G-d to defend the people of Israel from total destruction because of Korach is their statement "Shall one man sin and You be angry with the entire community?" This argument is at the core of a very real dilemma that the Jewish people face today. What are the parameters, limits and morality of "collective punishment"?

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Matot-Masei 5766-2006

"Taking a Stand Against the Banality of Evil"

In Parashat Matot, we learn that the Israelite soldiers are instructed to avenge the harlotry of Midianites that resulted in the deaths of 24,000 Israelites in a plague. Despite this exceptional instance, the Jewish soldiers are reluctant to kill the women and children until a Divine command is issued. Why a Divine command? To teach how concerned Judaism is that killing never ever becomes casual or mundane, and to assure that indifference to life never finds a home in the hearts of the Jewish people.

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Shoftim 5762-2002

"The Torah - The First Environmentalist Treatise"

The Torah's commandment in Genesis to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, "to work the land and to protect it," was humanity's first call for conservation and protecting the environment. This revolutionary message that the Torah introduced 3,300 years ago is as fresh, as vibrant and as green as if it were given today. Many additional revolutionary environmental laws may be found in parashat Shoftim.

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