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Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

Sabbath/ Holidays

NOACH 10/20/2014 01:11 PM

The main character described in this week's Torah reading is naturally Noach himself. I think that the Torah wishes to illustrate, through Noach’s personality and his reactions to the impending disaster and to the world afterwards - the challenges of being a survivor. Everyone who has ever survived a serious challenge or tragedy replays in one's mind what might have been done differently,...

BERESHITH 10/13/2014 06:27 PM

In the whirlwind cascade of events that fill this opening parsha of the Torah, one can easily be overwhelmed by the sheer number of subjects discussed. Nevertheless, I think we can all agree that the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, after they exercised their free will to disobey God's commandment, is an important issue to dwell upon and discuss. What life was like within...

VZOT HABRACHA 10/6/2014 04:35 PM

Very shortly we will conclude the reading of the Torah cycle for this year. The Torah ends with the description of the passing of Moshe. The Torah pointedly tells us that there never will be another Moshe. We are also taught that there will never be another generation such as the generation of Jews that were redeemed from Egypt and who accepted the Torah on Mount Sinai. And, we are also taught...

SUKKOTH 10/5/2014 01:57 PM

After the tension filled solemnity of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the holiday of Sukkoth arrives with its many inspiring rituals and its message of joy and rejoicing in the service of God. It is regarding Sukkoth that the Torah instructs us “to be joyful on your holiday.” Now, joy, like almost all other emotions is not something that can be turned on and off like a faucet. A person...

YOM KIPPUR 9/29/2014 01:08 PM

The holiest day of the year is upon us. The time of atonement and forgiveness, of introspection and self-analysis has again arrived. The unique quality of the day of Yom Kippur is that it is a day of cleansing. Just as our refraining from food and drink on that day helps cleanse us physically, so too does our participation in prayer, serious thought, recognition of personal faults and a new...

ROSH HASHANAH 9/22/2014 01:37 PM

The Torah emphasizes to us that the day of Rosh Hashanah is a day of remembrance and of memory. Heaven is able to recall everything and everyone; human beings, less so. Human memory is selective, arbitrary and many if not most times faulty and certainly somewhat inaccurate. People have often told me that they heard me say such and such in a public lecture and I have no recollection whatsoever...

HAAZINU 9/22/2014 01:06 PM

There are two major songs/poems that appear in the Torah. One is the great song of deliverance, which was the reaction of Moshe and the Jewish people to their being saved from the bondage of Egypt and the waters of Yam Suf. The other is that of this week's parsha, Haazinu. This song/poem is also authored by Moshe but this was composed at the end of the forty-year sojourn of the Jewish people in...

A RETURN TO THE SABBATH 9/15/2014 12:36 PM

During this period of reflective thought, there is one issue that, in my opinion, stands out. And that is the issue of Sabbath observance within the Jewish world. The rabbis of the Talmud placed the Sabbath at the forefront of all the commandments, and essentially as the lodestone of Jewish identity. Sabbath observance brought with it personal trust and cooperation in all social and religious...

NITZAVIM – VAYELECH 9/15/2014 12:22 PM

The Torah reading for this week is a fitting conclusion to the year that is about to depart from us. At the end of his long life and after decades of service to the Jewish people, Moshe renews the covenant between God and the people of Israel. He makes clear to the new generation of Jews standing before him, a generation that was not part of the experience of Egypt, nor present at the moment of...

SOME THOUGHTS FOR ELUL 9/8/2014 03:10 PM

The month of Elul has always been portrayed as a time of introspection. As we prepare for the coming good and blessed year of 5775, we should also stop to consider the occurrences and events of the past year, 5774. Like most of life, it was a year of contrasts and mixed messages. Israel and the Palestinian Authority negotiated for most of the year but any sort of meaningful agreement failed to...