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Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

Sabbath/ Holidays

PINCHAS 7/14/2019 06:28 AM

Judaism constantly stresses the importance and worth of the individual. Even though there are billions of people living on our planet, the worth of the individual should not be diminished by this fact. In the Torah reading of this week the Lord informs Moshe that it was the action of one individual – Pinchas – that saved hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Jews from destruction. The...

BALAK 7/7/2019 06:12 AM

We are all sufficiently sophisticated and experienced in our time to realize that wars are conducted on many different levels and not necessarily always on the battlefield or with massive armies. The Torah readings of this week introduces us to perhaps the first recorded use of psychological warfare and propaganda in human history. The magician, soothsayer and prophet of the non-Jewish world,...

CHUKAT 6/30/2019 06:25 AM

The climax of the tragedies that have been recorded for us in the previous readings of the Torah appears in this week’s reading. Driven to anger and exasperation, Moshe disobeys the order of God to speak to the rock and extract water from it and instead he raises his staff and smites it a number of times. This act does produce water, but it leads to the confirmation of the fact that neither...

KORACH 6/25/2019 11:02 AM

The tragedies and difficulties that befell the Jewish people in the desert of Sinai continue to multiply in the Torah reading of this week. This week's sad story involves unique personalities affected by human ambition, jealousy and a complete misreading of one's true role in the family and society. Korach sees himself as being a far greater person than he really is. He is convinced that he...

SHLACH 6/16/2019 10:46 AM

Much has been written and taught regarding the motives of the leaders of Israel, those who Moshe sent to spy out the land of Israel in advance of the Jewish people entering their homeland. After all the explanations, it remains a baffling mystery as to how such great people could have been so wrong on such an important issue. Just as they were able to convince an entire generation to believe as...

BEHALOTCHA 6/11/2019 10:51 AM

In many respects this is the saddest chapter that appears in the Torah. The Jewish people, having successfully been released from Egyptian slavery and arriving at Mount Sinai and accepting the sacredness of God's Torah, they then embark on the building of the Tabernacle. They are then able to successfully complete that project and are ready to undertake the final mission that they are charged...

SHAVUOT 6/3/2019 11:05 AM

This holiday was marked in Temple times by bringing the first fruits of the new crops of the new agricultural year as an offering. However, during our times, when the Temple service is not performed, there is no single commandment that applies to this holiday. Therefore, the Jewish people, in their love for the holidays of the year, have created customs that accompany this holiday even if they...

NASSO 6/2/2019 11:23 AM

The Torah reading this week begins with a commandment to Moshe to count the Levites, especially the family of Gershon. The Hebrew words that are used to make this count, literally translated, mean “raise the head” of the family of Gershon, who are an important section of the tribe of the Levites. There are many different interpretations as to why the Torah chose to use this formulation of...

BAMIDBAR 5/29/2019 06:09 AM

Population numbers have always meant a great deal in human history. We do not find tribes or influential societies that were composed only of a very small number of people. All the great tribes in the ancient and modern world were built on large populations that would be able to fuel the economy of the Empire and provide sufficient numbers of soldiers for its armies. Naturally the exception...

Bechukotai 5/20/2019 10:53 AM

The final portion of this third book of the Torah contains an ominous tone. This is because of the vivid description of evil events that will befall the Jewish people when they desert their Godly mission and sink to the level of the societies that surround and outnumber them. The Torah promises us that such behavior and attitudes will surely lead to disaster, exile and persecution from the very...