6/17/2013 01:14 PM
There is an eternal debate amongst philosophers and criminologists as to whether the mob boss or the actual hit man is most culpable in the murder of a rival gang leader. Though both are certainly morally guilty, the question as to which one bears the legal onus for the crime, absent statutory law on the matter, is an issue of discussion and differing opinions. In Judaism there is a concept...
6/10/2013 01:28 PM
The Torah interrupts its narrative of the events that befell the Jewish people in the desert with the description of a commandment that admittedly has no rational human understanding in logical terms. Even the great King Solomon, the wisest and most analytical of all humans, was forced to admit that understanding this parsha of the Torah was beyond his most gifted intellect and talents. If...
6/3/2013 02:22 PM
Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (Ramban) is of the general opinion that events, as recorded in the Torah, occurred in a linear timeline. This is in spite of the maxim that there is no late or early in the Torah. He limits that rule to certain halachic instances as they appear in the Talmud. Thus the story of Korach and his contest against Moshe that forms the central part of this week’s parsha occurred...
5/27/2013 11:21 AM
This week’s parsha raises the age-old issue of human behavior – altruism over personal interest and gain. While we all pay lip service to the concept and ideal of altruism when dealing with public affairs and the general good , we all remain human beings and the Talmud long ago posited that “a human being is first and foremost closest and prejudiced to one’s own self and interests.” ...
5/20/2013 12:07 PM
The association of Aharon, and of all later High Priests of Israel, with the task of the daily lighting of the menorah/candelabra in the Temple is significant. In our current technologically advanced era, turning on the lights in a home or a room is hardly considered to be a difficult or especially meaningful event. The flick of a switch floods the area with light and illumination. However,...
5/13/2013 01:46 PM
Every holiday is dependent, so to speak, on memory for its observance to be meaningful and uplifting. The specific commandments, customs and rituals that accompany the Jewish holidays of the year are the memory aids that trigger our emotional and spiritual responses. Just sitting in a succah or eating matzo is sufficient to open the floodgates of memory that enhance our observance of that...
5/13/2013 01:42 PM
The term that the Torah uses for counting the Levite family of Gershon is nasso – to raise and lift up. The word can also mean to carry and bear a burden. It can also mean to lead. When such words appear in the Torah with multiple, differing meanings – and Hebrew is replete with so many of them – the commentators remark that all of the possible meanings of that word are nuanced and meant...
5/6/2013 12:35 PM
I have always been fascinated as to why this book of the Bible and this week’s Torah reading is called Bamidbar – in the desert. The rabbis of Midrash have stated that the lesson involved here is that the Torah only remains in a person who empties all other causes from one’s midst, and is as open and unoccupied as is the desert. Nevertheless, there may be other insights that may be...
THE BOOK OF RUTH
5/6/2013 12:03 PM
With the holiday of Shavuot lurking joyfully just around the corner, I have spent some time reviewing the holy book of Ruth. Traditionally read in many synagogues on the holiday, the narrative quality of this book itself is masterful and its delineation of the main characters is sharp and arresting. But it is the moral and idealistic quality of the book, especially as it is reflected through...
BHAR – BECHUKOTAI
4/29/2013 03:21 PM
The book of Vayikra concludes with a description of Jewish destiny and a foretelling of dire events that that will befall the Jewish people. The clear message in this parsha, and as repeated later in the book of Dvarim and in the words of the prophets of Israel over the next millennium, is that the Jewish people and its behavior and society are held to a high standard of loyalty and piety. ...