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Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

VAETCHANAN – NACHAMU 7/27/2015 01:40 PM

In the Torah reading of this week our teacher and leader Moshe prays and begs for a final time, that Heaven revoke its decree preventing him from entering the Land of Israel. His plea is unsuccessful and, in fact, he is told not to raise the subject again during his lifetime. It is striking to note that Moshe does not complain about the outcome of his entreaty nor is there any note of...

SHABBAT AND TISHA B’AV 7/20/2015 03:05 PM

It is an established fact that Shabbat trumps almost every other commandment, custom and practice in Jewish life and law. Allowing circumcision on Shabbat is the exception and not the rule. Whether confronting the fast days or feast days, Shabbat takes precedence. It rules, by rabbinic decree, over shofar and lulav as well as over the mournful commemorations of personal and national grief, loss...

DVARIM - CHAZON 7/19/2015 01:17 PM

The book of Dvarim begins on a somber note. In fact the entire book, for most of its contents and statements, is a very sobering volume. Our teacher and leader Moshe reviews for us his career and the events of his leadership of Israel over the past tumultuous forty years. He spares neither himself nor the people of Israel in his assessment of the mistakes and misfortunes that occurred over that...

MATOT-MASEI 7/13/2015 03:07 PM

The opening theme of this week's double parsha/Torah reading, concerns itself with the laws of vows and verbal commitments. The Torah nevertheless introduces this subject by stating that these laws and values were transmitted to the heads of the tribes of Israel. Since these laws are binding upon the entire Jewish people and are clearly discussed and explained in the Talmud in the tractate of...

PINCHAS 7/5/2015 02:56 PM

There are great challenges in everyone's life. There are natural drives which exist within us that force people to commit sinful behavior. The Talmud succinctly sums up the situation by stating: “Most people steal, a minority of them are sexually immoral and all are covered with the dust of evil speech and slander.” Money is a great temptation and the drive to acquire it is so strong that...

BALAK 6/29/2015 01:40 PM

This week's parsha introduces us to the usual suspects who are always present and active in Jewish history and world affairs. Balak and Bilaam are prototypes of the enemies of the Jewish people throughout the ages. They really have no legitimate cause to be our enemies. They impute hostile and aggressive behavior to the Jewish people, when in reality none of this is present. They are...

CHUKAT 6/22/2015 02:51 PM

Over all of the millennia since the incident described in this week’s parsha regarding Moshe striking the rock instead of speaking to it, the great commentators to Torah have struggled to make this incident more understandable and meaningful to us ordinary mortals. At first glance, the punishment does not seem to fit the crime. Because of this, many of the commentators have seen the incident of...

KORACH 6/15/2015 01:02 PM

In last week’s parsha Rashi commented that when the Jewish people stated that they wanted to return to Egypt rather than proceeding to the Land of Israel they thereby intimated that they wanted to replace Moshe as their leader and crown a new king over them. In this week’s parsha, that earlier murmur of dissatisfaction with Moshe and his leadership becomes a full-throated shout. Korach...

SHLACH 6/8/2015 02:57 PM

Moshe, at the behest and request of the Jewish people, chooses twelve outstanding leaders and orders them to embark on a mission of spying regarding the Land of Israel and its current Canaanite population. Moshe is confident that this mission will reinforce the enthusiasm and commitment of the Jewish people to settle and build their national homeland, promised to them by God through their...

B’HALOTCHA 6/1/2015 01:39 PM

Without warning disaster strikes the people of Israel on their journey to the Land of Israel. Moshe boldly proclaimed that “we are traveling now on the way to the land of our destination.” The tribes have been numbered and counted, assigned flags and positions of march and they are accompanied on their journey by the Tabernacle of God placed in their midst. Everything is seemingly poised for...