Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

VAYERA 11/10/2019 10:36 AM

The Mishnah in Avot specifically, and Jewish tradition generally, instructs us that our father Abraham was constantly challenged with great tests in life and was able to survive and surmount all of them. There is an underlying difficulty to this narrative regarding the testing of Abraham. God after all is omniscient and knows well in advance what the reaction of Abraham will be to all the...

NOACH 10/27/2019 02:22 PM

The Torah, in this week's reading, describes the rainbow as becoming the symbol of God's covenant with the humankind, that the world will not be destroyed by another flood. The appearance of the rainbow in the narrative of Noach and his emergence from the ark does not mean that the rainbow was created then. According to rabbinic tradition and the unchanging laws of nature, the rainbow existed...

BERESHITH 10/20/2019 01:34 PM

The Garden of Eden is portrayed for us as being the perfect place. Mortality had not yet entered the way of the world and our aged father and mother lived in an environment where everything was provided; food, shelter and freedom from external dangers. Yet, in this most idyllic of situations – one that we cannot begin to contemplate or imagine – temptation lurked even in this setting. ...

HAAZINU 10/6/2019 06:00 AM

Our great teacher Moshe, in his concluding hymn regarding the future of the Jewish people, calls as his witnesses heaven and earth. These witnesses are, in human terms, eternal and omnipresent. They will always be there to testify that Moshe concluded a binding covenant between God and Israel, and that this covenant is a symbol of eternity and destiny. Heaven and earth represent the physical...

VAYELECH 9/29/2019 12:00 AM

The Torah reading of this week describes our great teacher and leader Moshe as ‘going,’ though the Torah does not indicate to what destination. This is an indication of the personality and life achievements of Moshe - a person who is constantly growing. He aspires to greatness and pursues this goal. Though he initially attempts to escape from the burden of leading the Jewish people and even...

NITZAVIM 9/22/2019 12:10 PM

This week's reading in the Torah describes the eternal binding covenant between God and the Jewish people. This covenant has played itself out over thousands of years of world history and remains valid and operative today as it did on the day that Moshe presented it to the Jewish people at the end of his life. The covenant is all-encompassing and applies to all who were members of the Jewish...

KI TAVO 9/15/2019 12:48 PM

Saying thank you is one of the basic courtesies of human interaction. Though elementary and straightforward, it is often forgotten or neglected. In saying thank you, we are acknowledging that we are dependent upon the goodness and consideration of others and that we are not completely in control over events and even of our own decisions in life. In traditional homes, both Jewish and general,...

KI TEITZEI 9/8/2019 11:52 AM

This week’s Torah portion deals with many different issues of human behavior and family relations. We are all aware that the relationships between parents and children, as well as between other relatives in the same family are often difficult ones and fraught with potential danger, frustration and even tragedy. People within a family are very capable of disliking and even hating one another...

SHOFTIM 9/1/2019 06:13 AM

The reading of this week deals with a basic human temptation and almost universal failing – corruption. Though the Torah speaks of actual physical and financial graft it certainly implies a broader message to not only to those in the judiciary but to others in positions of power. The Torah recognizes that human beings, by their very nature, have biases and prejudices. Some of these seem to be...

RE’EH 8/25/2019 11:43 AM

The Torah presents us with a seemingly simple and uncomplicated choice in this week's reading - the choice between life and death. And the Torah deems it necessary to instruct us to choose life. It certainly seems at first glance to be a very superfluous instruction, for the instinct to preserve our lives for as long as possible is one of the basic drives of human beings. An equal part of our...