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Weekly Parsha

HAAZINU 9/18/2017 02:01 PM

There are two approaches to understanding much of the prophecy contained in the grand poem of Moshe that constitutes this week’s Torah reading. Rashi in fact develops both themes thoroughly in his commentary. One view is that the Jewish people and their future are the subjects of Moshe’s Divine words. The difficulties and challenges raised in the verses of this Torah reading are those...

NITZAVIM – VAYELECH 9/11/2017 12:31 PM

Ah! The covenant once more. The basis of the relationship between the Jewish people and their Creator is the covenant that exists between them. The covenant is central to the story of the Jewish people. Our father Avraham entered into and created the terms of this eternal covenant. The covenant was embodied in his flesh itself and sanctified by the sense of sacrifice that the historical narrative...

KI TAVO 9/5/2017 02:06 PM

Moshe describes in horrid detail the ravages of the disaster that will befall the Jewish people towards the end of their long exile from their homeland. We no longer have to accept the descriptions outlined in the words of Moshe as they appear in this week’s Torah reading on faith alone. We have eyewitnesses, testimonies, films, official documented government records, and written memoirs that...

KI TEITZEI 8/28/2017 01:15 PM

The Torah deals with temptation in this week’s reading. Temptation is a constant factor in human existence. Usually we do not carry out the acts that tempt us simply because of lack of opportunity and not necessarily because of our piety. People are watching, the police are in the vicinity, the circumstances currently conspire against us being successful in this tempting but illicit venture....

SHOFTIM 8/20/2017 02:35 PM

Human justice is often unjust, even cruel in the extreme. The barbarism of the Medieval Era was perpetrated in the name of justice. The Psalmist commented ruefully that people construct evil lawfully through legislation and court decisions. The experiences of the past century with Germany, the Soviet Union, Cambodia, Cuba, Iraq, North Korea, etc. certainly suffice to illustrate this sad point. ...

RE’EH 8/13/2017 01:57 PM

The American Declaration of Independence claimed that certain basic human rights were obvious. Yet what is obvious to some is in reality obscure and unknown to many others. Because of this, the Torah emphasizes the obvious in this week’s Torah reading. The choice between death in this world and the next, and life – eternal life, no less, should be obvious. The Torah in fact states that seeing...

EKEV 8/6/2017 05:08 PM

Rashi comments that the word Ekev used here as meaning because or therefore is really the same word in Hebrew for the heel of a human being. Like all parts of our bodies, the heel is valuable, useful and vulnerable. Just ask Achilles! Fashion states that sinful people use the heel to trample on Godly commandments and moral strictures. The heel thus becomes a negative representation of the use of...

VAETCHANAN – NACHAMU 7/30/2017 04:00 PM

Moshe’s final heartfelt appeal to the merciful God of Israel is somehow refused and of no avail. He will not be allowed to enter the Land of Israel. One can only feel the bitter disappointment and frustration that he must have experienced at this response. Nevertheless, he continues in his role as teacher and leader of Israel even until his final day. The balance of this book of Dvarim is...

Dvarim –Chazon 7/23/2017 02:14 PM

The Torah reading of this Shabbat and the attendant Haftorah from the book of Isaiah always precedes the week of the fast day of the ninth of Av. It is as though our teacher Moshe, a millennium before the destruction of the First Temple, already envisioned the disaster that would befall the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. This is also true regarding the words of the prophet Isaiah who,...

MATOT – MAASEI 7/16/2017 02:47 PM

The Jewish people have always been a traveling nation. It is almost as if wandering has become our second nature, built into the DNA of our society and history. The Torah lists for us over forty way stations and oases that the Jewish people visited during their trek in the desert from Egypt to the outskirts of the Land of Israel. Rashi, subtly and almost ironically, comments that the Lord...