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Weekly Parsha

MISHPATIM 2/19/2017 02:34 PM

The Talmud develops for us all of the complex laws that are laid out here in this week’s Torah reading. In fact, a great proportion of the tractates of the Talmud are involved in explaining the words, ideas and practical implications of the verses that appear this week. Judaism is a religion of behavior and practicality and not only of soaring spirituality and otherworldly utopian ideas. It...

YITRO 2/15/2017 02:27 PM

The idea of a multilayered judicial system is advanced in this week's Torah reading by Yitro, the father-in-law of Moshe. As it appears in the Torah, Moshe originally envisioned himself as being the sole judge of the Jewish people and that all matters, great and petty, should be brought before him for judgment and decision. Yitro advises him that neither he nor the people would survive under...

B’SHALACH 2/6/2017 03:45 PM

This week’s Torah reading mentions the eternal problem that all fundraisers for institutions face – namely, that though one may have been successful in raising great sums of money for buildings, it is much more difficult to raise funds for the necessary daily maintenance of the institution and for the salaries of those who are involved with it on a daily basis. The Jewish people truly...

BO 1/31/2017 12:17 PM

As the story of the sojourn and enslavement of the Jewish people in Egypt comes to its final climax in this week's Torah reading, there are many questions that are left unanswered. What was the actual length of time that this Egyptian story encompassed? There seems to be contradictory dates that appear in the Torah. And why does it appear from Talmud and Midrash that the vast majority of the Jews...

VAEIRA 1/23/2017 01:15 PM

As the narrative of the redemption of the Jewish people from Egyptian bondage unfolds, I am continually struck by the apparently gradual process that is described for us in the Torah. What does all of the detail associated with each of the plagues visited upon Egypt come to teach us? And would not one great plague alone have sufficed? After all, in the past century we witnessed how two bombs,...

SHMOT 1/16/2017 12:37 PM

There are crises that develop slowly and gradually while there are others that are sudden, surprising and unexpected. We see that in Jewish history both types of difficulties abound. The fall of the northern kingdom of Israel – that of the ten tribes – was sudden and unexpected. Only a short time before the northern kingdom of Israel had been one of the major military powers in the area. ...

VAYECHI 1/9/2017 01:16 PM

The traditional rabbinic approach as to why this portion of the Torah is the titled “vayechi Yaakov” even though the subject matter of this Torah portion concerns itself with the death of Yaakov is that as long as his descendants – the Jewish people – are alive and functioning, then Yaakov is still considered to be alive. The message here is one of immortality and continuity, family...

VAYIGASH 1/1/2017 02:36 PM

As the dramatic story of Joseph and his brothers comes to its climax in this week’s Torah reading, one is struck by the comparison between Judah and Joseph, the main antagonists in this final act of the biblical narrative. Joseph is the righteous one, the person who lives by dreams, the one who resists temptation and pays a dear price for so doing. The brothers did him wrong, very wrong....

MIKETZ 12/26/2016 12:53 PM

It is obvious from the biblical narrative of this week's Torah reading that the brothers of Yoseph were determined not to see his dreams of dominance and greatness fulfilled. Even when they stood before him and faced him directly, they did not recognize him. They were committed not to recognize him as the prince of Egypt. It is extremely difficult to change the perspective and previous held...

VAYEISHEV 12/18/2016 03:18 PM

Modern writers and commentators have found the biblical narratives of the book of Bereshith irresistible in their penchant for psychoanalyzing people described there in terms of modern understanding and current correctness. In so doing they do a great disservice to Jewish tradition and present a distorted picture of the message that the Bible is attempting to convey. The narrative regarding...