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Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

Weekly Parsha

KI TAVO 8/31/2015 02:18 PM

The next few parshiyot of the Torah, leading up to the final uplifting and glorious conclusion, portray for us a somber picture of the experiences that the Jewish people will undergo in their march through history. The descriptions of the horrors that will overtake the Jewish people, when their national entity is destroyed and they embark on a long and painful exile of millennia, are graphic,...

KI TEITZEI 8/24/2015 12:34 PM

The saga of the captive woman described in this week's Torah reading has always remained a somewhat puzzling subject. The Talmud itself reacts to the realities of war – those young male soldiers and vulnerable female captives – by stating that the Torah is reacting to the natural base desires of men in times of stress and danger. So to speak, the entire matter is a concession to evil...

SHOFTIM 8/17/2015 03:19 PM

Unlike other faiths, Judaism does not foresee this world to be one of perfection of the entire human condition. Thus in this week’s Torah reading we are told to create a system of legal justice and means of enforcement of law and order. Society cannot simply rely on the good will and innate good nature of people; this leads to anarchy and chaos. To this end, judges and police are part of the...

RE’EH 8/10/2015 01:04 PM

It is interesting, at least to me, to note that in the review of the Jewish holidays of the calendar year that appears in this week's Torah reading, only the three festivals of Pesach, Succot and Shavuot are mentioned. Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are noticeable in their absence from this list of holidays. The obvious reason for their omission is that the commandment to go up to Jerusalem for the...

EIKEV 8/3/2015 02:44 PM

The word with which this week's Torah reading begins literally means ‘because of’ or ‘as a consequence of’ one's actions and behavior. However Rashi chooses to define the word ‘eikev’ in a more allegorical sense. Rashi traces the word to its root where it means the heel of a person. We find that this is its meaning when the Torah describes our father Jacob holding onto the heel of...

VAETCHANAN – NACHAMU 7/27/2015 01:40 PM

In the Torah reading of this week our teacher and leader Moshe prays and begs for a final time, that Heaven revoke its decree preventing him from entering the Land of Israel. His plea is unsuccessful and, in fact, he is told not to raise the subject again during his lifetime. It is striking to note that Moshe does not complain about the outcome of his entreaty nor is there any note of...

DVARIM - CHAZON 7/19/2015 01:17 PM

The book of Dvarim begins on a somber note. In fact the entire book, for most of its contents and statements, is a very sobering volume. Our teacher and leader Moshe reviews for us his career and the events of his leadership of Israel over the past tumultuous forty years. He spares neither himself nor the people of Israel in his assessment of the mistakes and misfortunes that occurred over that...

MATOT-MASEI 7/13/2015 03:07 PM

The opening theme of this week's double parsha/Torah reading, concerns itself with the laws of vows and verbal commitments. The Torah nevertheless introduces this subject by stating that these laws and values were transmitted to the heads of the tribes of Israel. Since these laws are binding upon the entire Jewish people and are clearly discussed and explained in the Talmud in the tractate of...

PINCHAS 7/5/2015 02:56 PM

There are great challenges in everyone's life. There are natural drives which exist within us that force people to commit sinful behavior. The Talmud succinctly sums up the situation by stating: “Most people steal, a minority of them are sexually immoral and all are covered with the dust of evil speech and slander.” Money is a great temptation and the drive to acquire it is so strong that...

BALAK 6/29/2015 01:40 PM

This week's parsha introduces us to the usual suspects who are always present and active in Jewish history and world affairs. Balak and Bilaam are prototypes of the enemies of the Jewish people throughout the ages. They really have no legitimate cause to be our enemies. They impute hostile and aggressive behavior to the Jewish people, when in reality none of this is present. They are...