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Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

RE’EH 8/13/2017 01:57 PM

The American Declaration of Independence claimed that certain basic human rights were obvious. Yet what is obvious to some is in reality obscure and unknown to many others. Because of this, the Torah emphasizes the obvious in this week’s Torah reading. The choice between death in this world and the next, and life – eternal life, no less, should be obvious. The Torah in fact states that seeing...

EKEV 8/6/2017 05:08 PM

Rashi comments that the word Ekev used here as meaning because or therefore is really the same word in Hebrew for the heel of a human being. Like all parts of our bodies, the heel is valuable, useful and vulnerable. Just ask Achilles! Fashion states that sinful people use the heel to trample on Godly commandments and moral strictures. The heel thus becomes a negative representation of the use of...

VAETCHANAN – NACHAMU 7/30/2017 04:00 PM

Moshe’s final heartfelt appeal to the merciful God of Israel is somehow refused and of no avail. He will not be allowed to enter the Land of Israel. One can only feel the bitter disappointment and frustration that he must have experienced at this response. Nevertheless, he continues in his role as teacher and leader of Israel even until his final day. The balance of this book of Dvarim is...

Dvarim –Chazon 7/23/2017 02:14 PM

The Torah reading of this Shabbat and the attendant Haftorah from the book of Isaiah always precedes the week of the fast day of the ninth of Av. It is as though our teacher Moshe, a millennium before the destruction of the First Temple, already envisioned the disaster that would befall the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. This is also true regarding the words of the prophet Isaiah who,...

MATOT – MAASEI 7/16/2017 02:47 PM

The Jewish people have always been a traveling nation. It is almost as if wandering has become our second nature, built into the DNA of our society and history. The Torah lists for us over forty way stations and oases that the Jewish people visited during their trek in the desert from Egypt to the outskirts of the Land of Israel. Rashi, subtly and almost ironically, comments that the Lord...

PINCHAS 7/9/2017 01:03 PM

There is zealotry that stems from hatred and jealousy. Though the motives are evil, this type of person is always able to cloak himself in a mantle of piety and public service. Unfortunately, this type of zealotry abounds in our religious world. Innocent people are pilloried, their words are distorted and they are slandered falsely and shamelessly, all in the name of higher religious causes. ...

BALAK 7/2/2017 12:35 PM

Old adversaries return to plague the Jewish people. Bilaam, according to midrash, was one of the advisors to the Egyptian Pharaoh. He was the one that advocated the enslavement and eventual destruction of the Jews in Egypt. His plan was thwarted by the intervention of Heaven. Nevertheless, a substantial number of Jews were destroyed in the centuries of Egyptian bondage and slavery. One would...

CHUKAT 6/25/2017 12:18 PM

The unraveling of the destiny of the generation of Jews that left Egypt reaches its climax in the Torah reading of this week. All of the leaders of the people will not bring them to the promised land of Israel. This is true not only of the leaders of the individual tribes in the desert but even Moshe and Aharon are doomed not to witness the conquest and settlement of the Land of Israel. The...

KORACH 6/19/2017 12:53 PM

It is always astounding to see and realize how ego, turf and ambition can blind even great people who are otherwise wise and even pious personalities. Human society suffers greatly from this phenomenon and religious society is not exempt from its erroneous consequences. In fact, religious society is more susceptible to these ills simply because character failings can be wrapped in piety with the...

SHLACH 6/12/2017 12:00 PM

Revisiting a story on the spies that Moshe sent to the Land of Israel is always a very discouraging moment. How could everything have gone so wrong and so fast? All of the reasons advanced over the ages by the great commentators to the Torah – personal ambition, fear of the unknown, disregard for tradition, lack of faith in God, etc. – are undoubtedly true and correct. But to a certain extent...