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Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

Sabbath/ Holidays

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...

EKEV 8/18/2019 10:16 AM

In this week's Torah reading Moshe teaches us that he was instructed by heaven to construct an ark made of wood in order to house the two tablets of stone that he received on Sinai. I have written about this subject before and it is one that has been noted heavily by the commentators to the Torah. But I have become aware of an insight that I feel has great relevance to understanding many of the...

VAETCHANAN 8/11/2019 11:42 AM

The Torah reading of this week always coincides with the Shabbat that falls after the fast of the ninth day of Av. Because of the nature of the prophetic reading, it is seen as the Shabbat of comfort and consolation, which are difficult commodities to acquire. Tragedies are not easily erased from one's mind and affect one's permanent personality and view of life. Comfort and consolation rarely...

THE NINTH OF AV 8/5/2019 11:12 AM

This coming Sunday will mark the anniversary of the day of destruction of the second Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans 1,949 years ago. 1,949 years is a very long time, even in terms of the span of human history. Great empires have risen to dominate the world over this period but without exception they have all crumbled and disappeared into the dustbin of history. Religions and beliefs arose and...

DVARIM 8/5/2019 10:18 AM

This final book of the five books of the Torah is the great oration of Moshe at the conclusion of his 40 years of leadership and service to God and the Jewish people. In it he reviews the events of that period and his observations and comments regarding those events and the behavior of the people of Israel during those decades of miraculous existence in the desert of Sinai. The underlying...

MASEI 7/29/2019 09:51 AM

It is the nature of human beings to look on the past with nostalgia. Often, we do so in a very selective manner, remembering the good and pleasant, and conveniently forgetting or ignoring the sad and unpleasant experiences. This is especially true in our time, when sections of the Jewish world, especially within the society of Orthodox Jews who descended from Eastern European ancestors, paint...

MATOT 7/24/2019 09:58 AM

The word for a staff, stick or even a scepter is the same word –mateh – that is used to describe the tribe or an integrated group of people. As has been often noted, the Hebrew language is rather sparing in its vocabulary. Therefore, often the same word is used with other meanings in different circumstances. But there always is a connection between the various uses of the word in different...