Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

Sabbath/ Holidays

TZAV 3/29/2020 05:47 PM

In this week’s Torah reading we are taught that the sons of Aaron, the priestly clan of Israel, were charged with the responsibility of keeping an eternal permanent flame burning on the sacrificial altar of the Temple. This miraculous flame appeared to form the image of a crouching lion on the top of that altar. This permanent flame was in addition to another permanent eternal light that...

SHABBAT HAGADOL 3/29/2020 05:46 PM

This Shabbat which immediately precedes Pesach is crowned with the title of Shabbat Hagadol – the Great Shabbat. Since every Shabbat is also crowned with greatness then why does this pre-Pesach Shabbat merit a special appellation? There is one basic principle that underlies all the many explanations. And that is that basically, without Shabbat there really can never be a truly meaningful...

Vayikra 3/22/2020 11:22 AM

In this week's Torah reading, the Torah describes for us the rituals of offering sacrifices in the temple. Our generation and our society are far removed from the concept of animal sacrifices and, because of this, the Torah reading somehow does not really speak directly to us. Already in the 13th century, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon offered the idea that we have to view sacrifices for the value...

VAYAKHEL – PIKUDEI 3/15/2020 12:00 AM

Moshe gathers all of the people of Israel into the courtyard of the Tabernacle to instruct them about the observance of the sanctity of Shabbat, That is the content of the lead verse of this week’s Torah reading, The obvious question raised by all of the Torah commentators is whether there was insufficient physical space outside the Tabernacle to hold the entire population of the Jewish...

KI TISA 3/8/2020 11:36 AM

One of the more mystical rituals in the mishkan was the ktoret – the offering of incense on the altar. The incense, when burned by fire, provided a fragrant cloud of smoke that permeated the tent of the mishkan. The Torah is very exact and detailed in describing the ingredients and formula that formed the ktoret in the mishkan and later in the Temple, which produced this powerful fragrance. The...

TETZAVEH 3/1/2020 10:24 AM

The Torah reading of this week establishes for us the commandment of having an eternal flame burn in the Mishkan and later in the Temple in Jerusalem as well. This commandment is repeated regarding the Altar in the Mishkan and in the Temple where an eternal flame was also to be present on the Altar of sacrifices. The concept and symbol of an eternal flame has been repeated throughout Jewish...

TERUMAH 2/23/2020 12:19 PM

One of the greatest problems that has dogged religious life throughout the centuries is the place of material wealth and money in the structure of religious life. It is obvious to all that wealth corrupts and sullies noble programs and plans., The question boils down to the eternal issue as to whether the noble ends - Jewish education, synagogue worship, social charitable endeavors -- justify...

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...