Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

PINCHAS 7/5/2020 01:16 PM

The Torah traces the lineage of Pinchas back to his grandfather Aaron. At first glance, there are no more disparate characters that appear to us in the Torah's narrative. Aaron is gentle and kind, compromising and seeking peace between differing people and factions, noble in character and beloved by all of Israel. When Aaron passes from the world, the entire Jewish people without exception...

BALAK 6/28/2020 02:37 PM

The prophet Bilaam experiences a conversation from Heaven. The conversation, as the Torah records for us, begins with Heaven asking Bilaam who were the people who came to visit? Isn't that a strange question? First, if Heaven knows that people came to visit him, it is also aware who those people were. And why should Heaven even bother to ask? Is this germane to the central issue as to whether...

CHUKAT 6/21/2020 02:34 PM

The Jewish people find themselves in great difficulty after the death of the prophetess Miriam. Her miraculous well had sustained them with water during their long sojourn in the desert of Sinai. And now that she was no longer alive, this water, so identified with her being, also disappeared from their midst. They complain to Moshe and clamored for water. People can go on for days without solid...

KORACH 6/15/2020 11:04 AM

There are always differences within a team regarding the role and efficacy of leadership and leaders. All leaders are subject to criticism and second guessing. It comes with the job and there is no escaping it. Nevertheless, when the criticism descends to the level of personal abuse, and when it is obviously motivated by jealousy and other susceptible causes, then the criticism crosses the line...

Shlach 5780 6/7/2020 09:39 AM

The Land of Israel has always been a challenge to the People of Israel. There are many reasons for this, both obvious and subtle. The Land of Israel plays a central role in Judaism, in Jewish life, within its laws and world view. Yet, for a great part of Jewish history, the Jewish People itself was absent from the Land of Israel. Because of this absence, the Land of Israel was not a reality in...

Beha'alotcha 5/31/2020 09:36 AM

In this week’s Torah reading we hear an oft repeated refrain uttered by many in the generation that found itself in the desert of Sinai. They said that we want to return to Egypt. The present is too difficult, and the future is too uncertain so let us go home to Egypt which we were familiar with and where we knew what to expect. All human beings fear uncertainty. The future is always...

NASO 5/25/2020 02:16 PM

When the Torah describes the count of the tribe of Levi, at the onset of this week’s reading, it uses the expression “raise the head of the tribe of Levi.” At first glance this is a strange way of to present the matter. The Torah should say directly, “count the tribe of Levi.” By using the expression “raise the head” the Torah communicates to us a subtle but vital lesson. And that...

Bamidbar 5/17/2020 11:41 AM

This section of the Torah is entitled, Bamidbar, in the desert. It is hard for us to imagine, though it may be less hard in our current situation than it was before we were put into quarantine, how the Jewish people lived in the desert for four decades. Since they had no gainful occupations and they had no struggle to feed themselves for the miraculous bread from heaven fell and the well of...

Behar – Bechukotai 5/10/2020 11:27 AM

How much is a human being worth? In the Torah reading of this week, the value of a person is pledged to the temple in terms of a scale measured in money. Now, obviously the Torah does not mean that we are to judge a human being's value this way. The worth of a human being is inestimable, and no two people are the same. Their value will be dependent upon circumstances and their life experiences....

Emor 5/3/2020 04:01 PM

This week's Torah reading begins with a rather detailed instruction sheet for the children of Aaron, the priests of Israel. The Torah describes for us the limitations that were placed upon them in order to guarantee that their service would be in purity and in holiness. Aspects of this instruction are still enforced today. Those who are of the priestly clan observe them rigidly even if, in...