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Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

Sabbath/ Holidays

BECHUKOTAI 5/22/2016 04:10 PM

From a cursory review of this week’s Torah reading, one can easily come to the conclusion that God’s method for dealing with us is with earthly rewards and punishments. The blessings that appear in the reading are all physical, emotional and sometimes psychological. There is no mention of eternal life, the survival of the soul, and/or of the rewards in the World to Come. And the same is...

BEHAR 5/15/2016 02:42 PM

This week's Torah reading seems to emphasize that the granting of the Torah to Moshe, and through him to Israel generally, took place at the Mountain of Sinai. Since the Torah does not deal with incidental geographic details, this emphasis regarding the mountain bears study and analysis. Mountain climbing is a sport for the hardy of spirit and the physically fit. However most of us are perfectly...

EMOR 5/8/2016 12:10 PM

The Torah commandment regarding the counting of the seven weeks between the holidays of Pesach and Shavuot appears in a timely fashion in this week's Torah reading. Over the many millennia of Torah study and commentary numerus ideas have been advanced as to the import and meaning of this commandment. Nevertheless, it is obvious that the simple meaning and apparent lesson is that we are to...

KEDOSHIM 5/6/2016 04:52 PM

The demands that the Torah imposes upon us with the large array of commandments that appear in this week's Torah reading are major and taxing. Nevertheless we have a rule that the Torah never demands the impossible from human beings or of human behavior. As such, I feel that the true challenge implicit in the commandment to be a holy and dedicated person – the idea that is present in the...

MEMORIAL DAYS 5/5/2016 03:50 PM

The last days of April and the beginning days of May are days of memory and remembrance here in Israel. The last Monday in May is Memorial Day in the United States. Official days of remembrance are the feeble attempts of nations and governments to somehow strengthen and revitalize national memory. They recall for us difficult times, great human sacrifice and always attempt to teach a lesson from...

ACHREI MOS 5/2/2016 03:13 PM

The Torah has already described the tragedy of the family of Aaron, when his sons Nadav and Avihu died while performing incense burning on the day of the final dedication of the Mishkan/Tabernacle. So, why does the Torah return to the subject and mention it again in this week’s Torah reading? The commentators over the ages, from the time of the Talmud onwards, have derived many explanations,...

PESACH 4/17/2016 12:49 PM

Aside from the actual lessons and topics regarding freedom from bondage and the emergence of the national identity of the Jewish people, Pesach conveys to us the wonders of the natural seasons of the year here in Israel. The great Song of Songs of King Solomon occupies a place of honor in the synagogue service of the holiday and recorded in that most holy work are recorded colorful descriptions...

METZORA 4/11/2016 02:08 PM

This week's parsha is truly one of the most difficult subjects for people in our time to contemplate, understand or from which to gain knowledge and inspiration. The entire subject of these mysterious diseases, which manifested themselves on the human body, in clothing and even in houses and buildings is technically discussed in Mishna and also in various places in the Talmud itself. However, the...

SHABBAT HAGADOL 4/10/2016 04:15 PM

The Shabbat preceding Pesach is titled “The Great Shabbat.” Over the ages there have been many reasons advanced as to why this Shabbat, over all others, deserves this title. I know that it is somehow presumptuous on my part to add my view on the matter when so many greater people than me have had their say. However, the Torah is so vast and all-encompassing and speaks to all times and...

TAZRIA 4/4/2016 02:58 PM

The ritual of circumcision has been one of the basic institutions of Jewish life since the beginnings of our familial and national existence. It is this covenant of our father Avraham which has always been a testament to the eternity of the Jewish people, to its heritage and identity. As in the case of Avraham circumcising his son Yitzchak on the eighth day after the infant’s birth, the...