Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

PLURALISM AND HISTORY

Throughout Jewish history every era or number of generations has had its own buzzword that encapsulates within it the apparently new idea that was to replace the tradition of Torah study and observance as the core of Jewish life. In our generation the great buzzword that afflicts us is pluralism. Even though the word is hard to define, the idea that it represents is clear and dangerous. It...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Faigie Gilbert

PINCHAS

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...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Faigie Gilbert

IS MUSIC NEUTRAL?

When I am in a contemplative mood, which really does not happen too often, I enjoy listening to classical music on my computer. A few weeks ago, I was listening to Symphony, No. 2 by Gustav Mahler. While listening to this long and dramatic masterpiece of somber music, I thought about the composer and his tortured life. Mahler was a Jew in Vienna at the end of the 19th century. Despite his...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

BALAK

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,...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

CHUKAT

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...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

HAIRCUT LESSONS

Like many others I have my hair cut at least once a month and my beard trimmed then as well. Having one's hair trimmed and neat apparently is a Jewish value. The Talmud teaches us that the high priest of Israel had his hair trimmed daily. The monarchs of first temple times also had their hair cut on a regular basis and in a very timely manner. Long and unkempt hair and beards were apparently...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

KORACH

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...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Faigie Gilbert

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

I have long been fascinated by the subject of the names of human beings especially Jewish names. It seems that names given to children throughout the centuries of Jewish life vary greatly and come and go in waves. Naturally, we have the names that appear in the Bible and those names have remained constant throughout Jewish history. Yet, it is obvious that certain names are much more popular than...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

DINOSAURS AND PHONES

Over 30 years ago my congregation in Monsey, New York, as a token of great appreciation to me for my rabbinic services, installed a car phone in my automobile. It was a great big clumsy apparatus with the receptors housed in the trunk of my car and the phone itself, which was full-sized, sitting on the console next to me. I am certain that my congregation was well-meaning in giving me that phone,...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

SHLACH

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...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein