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Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

Sabbath/ Holidays

MISHPATIM 2/16/2020 11:34 AM

What I find most striking about this very detailed, mainly legal and technical parsha of the Torah, is the brutal acknowledgement it makes of human nature and its weaknesses. One would think that after the exalted moment when the people of Israel accepted the Torah at Mount Sinai, when humankind finally achieved its highest moral and intellectual level, that the Torah would no longer find it...

YITRO 2/9/2020 01:00 AM

We once again see in this week’s Torah reading the Torah’s penchant to use outsiders and their ideas to advance the welfare of the Jewish. People. After the granting of the Torah on Sinai, Moshe attempts to institute a one-man – himself – system of justice for the Jewish people. In theory, this is the ideal system, for everyone would wish to be heard and judged by Moshe. There cannot be...

BESHALACH 2/2/2020 11:44 AM

Miracles occur in all sizes and shapes. Some are major, completely aberrational and beyond natural or rational explanation. Other miracles that occur to us daily in our own lives take the form of being natural events and part of the rhythm of society and life. Major miracles command our attention, and as we see in this week's reading of the Torah, even cause us to sing eternal songs that extend...

BO 1/26/2020 11:17 AM

The Torah reading of this week begins with the Hebrew word ‘bo.’ This word literally means to enter. Normally, if we wish to describe crossing a threshold to appear before a person, the word ‘bo’ is not usually the verb that is used. To enter, in this instance, means to delve into the personality and the mind of the person, – to enter the conscience of that person, so to speak. So,...

Vaeira 1/19/2020 12:18 AM

This week’s Torah reading contains the four famous words of redemption that signal the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt. Much has been made over the centuries as to the meaning and implication of each of these four Hebrew verbs. The fact that there are four such words used in the narrative of redemption fits the pattern that we find in the Hagaddah of Pesach – four sons, four...

SHEMOT 1/12/2020 06:32 AM

The Torah, Jewish history and tradition indicate to us that Heaven oftentimes chooses unusual people for roles that are essential and pivotal in Jewish leadership. King David is a clear example of this historical phenomenon. But I think that we can agree that the choice of Moshe to be the redeemer and eternal teacher of the Jewish people, if not of all civilization, is, at first blush, a strange...

Vayechi 1/5/2020 10:19 AM

The conclusion of the book of Bereshith sets the stage for all of the remaining history of the Jewish people. Jacob and his family have settled in the land of Egypt, and live under the most favorable of circumstances. Their son and brother, Joseph, is the de facto ruler of the country that has provided them with prosperity. However, Joseph himself warns them that the situation is only temporary...

VAYIGASH 12/29/2019 11:05 AM

The dramatic moment that Joseph has dreamed of for decades has finally arrived. His dreams are to be fulfilled and he has achieved the ultimate triumph over his brothers who doubted him and his integrity. And at that moment, when he is at the zenith of his power, he breaks down and weeps. He is unable to control his emotions and his care for his brothers and his father and for the future...

MIKETZ 12/22/2019 11:26 AM

Yosef’s dramatic ascent to power in Egypt is recorded for us in this week’s parsha. What is noteworthy is that Yosef does not appear to be at all surprised or amazed by the sudden turn of events in his fortunes. A person who lives by dreams is never surprised when the dreams turns into reality. Yosef always expected his dreams to come true in this world. So did his father Yaakov. And in...

CHANUKAH 12/22/2019 10:48 AM

Chanukah is a time of the commemoration of miracles that happened to our ancestors in previous times, but at this time of the year. Miracles are always present in our lives and in world events. The ultimate definition of a miracle, in human terms, is that something unexpected and unforeseen happened, and it proved beneficial to the individual or society to which it occurred. This definition...