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Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

Sabbath/ Holidays

TAZRIA – METZORA 5781 4/11/2021 12:11 AM

The Torah indirectly, but softly and clearly, speaks to the continuity of the Jewish people and the human race generally, through the idea of having children. It has been statistically shown that as prosperity rises in certain sections of society, the birthrate in that section of society declines. For me, this was always counterintuitive, because if one is prosperous, then one can certainly...

SHMINI 5781 4/5/2021 02:16 PM

One of the more distinguishing life values which Judaism advocates is the type of food that a Jew eats. There are foods that Jews are commanded to eat such, as matzah on Pesach and continuing with Pesach, there are also forbidden foods such as leavened bread. The laws and customs regarding kosher food are numerous and complex. Perhaps no other area of Jewish life, except for the Sabbath and its...

COUNTING 4/5/2021 09:42 AM

We are now in the midst of the period on the Jewish calendar when we are engaged in a daily countdown towards the holiday of Shavuot. This commandment of counting the days begins with the offering of the first new grain of the Pesach harvest and concludes with the new produce of the agricultural year in the temple in Jerusalem on the holiday of Shavuot. Each of the 49 intervening days as...

TZAV 5781 3/21/2021 12:04 PM

The Torah begins this week's reading with the verbal commandment –Tzav – ordering Moshe to command and demand from his brother Aaron certain fulfillments of ritual and service in the Tabernacle, and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. The verb that is used is one of strength. Just as in a well-disciplined army, an officer's commands are fulfilled to be able to execute grand strategies, so,...

PESACH 5781 3/21/2021 09:21 AM

The holiday of Pesach represents many basic values in Jewish life. Foremost naturally is that of liberty and freedom from oppression, slavery, and domination by others. The holiday is described as being the holiday of our freedom. But, there is another basic idea and value that underlies the commemoration of our exodus from Egypt and the beginning of our freedom. That value is the human capacity...

VAYIKRA 5781 3/14/2021 11:06 AM

Moshe hears the voice of the Lord as God calls to him. However, it is not the same experience that it was at Mount Sinai. There, it was with noise and fanfare, thunder and lightning, pageantry, and awe. At Mount Sinai, even the soundwaves were visible and real. But here, according to the Midrash, it is a private revelation exclusive to Moshe. The great heavenly voice is not heard outside the...

VAYAKHEL – PIKUDEI 5781 3/7/2021 12:00 AM

The book of Shemot concludes with the detailed accounting of the materials collected and used in the building of the Tabernacle. Even though this accounting may appear to us to be superfluous and even overly detailed, the words and letters that appear in this week's Torah reading are as holy and important as any others that appear in our holy Scriptures. There is an important overriding...

KI TISA 5781 3/1/2021 09:27 AM

I approach this week's Torah reading while still under the influence of the great holiday of Purim. As such, I have long noticed that according to the Talmud, the name of the hero of the Purim story, Mordechai, is alluded to in the portion of this week's Torah reading, which describes the spices that constitute the incense offering in the tabernacle and temple. The names of Haman and Esther, that...

TETZAVEH - PURIM 2/21/2021 10:56 AM

In this year of 5781 here in Jerusalem, the Torah reading of Tetzaveh coincides with the day of Purim itself. There seems to be great similarities between this Torah reading and the reading of the book of Esther on Purim. Throughout the entire Torah, we find that the name of our great teacher Moshe (after his birth) is found in each weekly portion, with one lone exception. In Tetzaveh Moshe’s...

TERUMAH 2/14/2021 12:07 AM

I think that we can all agree that it is difficult and challenging to part with one's wealth on behalf of an altruistic cause that will bring to the donor no immediate discernible physical profit or gain. Human beings are very possessive when it comes to money. Money and territorial rights are two main issues that have existed throughout the ages regarding disputes between individuals and even...