Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

Sabbath/ Holidays

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...

KI TAVO 9/8/2014 02:35 PM

In this week’s parsha, all of Jewish history is reflected in the two relatively short scenarios that the Torah describes for us. There is the opening section of the parsha – the promise that the Jewish people will come into the Land of Israel, settle there, develop the country, build the Temple and express their gratitude to God for the blessings that He has bestowed upon them. They will...

KI TETZEI 9/2/2014 01:45 PM

In this week’s parsha, the Torah portrays for us an accurate and unforgiving view of war and its personal consequences. No one who participates in a war escapes unscathed. The ones who are killed or wounded have suffered physically, but even those who have survived the battle whole are still affected. That is the supremely important, albeit sublimina,l message of the beginning of this...

SHOFTIM 8/25/2014 01:44 PM

Law and order are the hallmarks of a functioning democratic society. The concept that one can receive fair redress for damages and hurts through an equitable system of established justice is central to the concept of a free society that provides individual rights to its citizens. However, dictatorships also provide law and order for those who live under their rule - a little too much law and...

RE’EIH 8/17/2014 03:15 PM

The use of the verb re’eih by the Torah to begin this week's Torah reading indicates that the seemingly complicated and abstract choices in life regarding faith and doubt, good and evil, right and wrong and life and death are really simple ones. The word re’eih denotes something that can be seen with the naked eye and needs no great thought or judgment to identify it. The Torah implies...