Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

SUCCOT

All of us sense a feeling of spiritual deflation immediately after the exalted atmosphere of Yom Kippur. To have to plunge immediately and directly into the icy waters of everyday life is much too challenging a task. We have just been given an entire day to nurture our souls and to exist as angels without the necessity of fulfilling the requirements of our bodies. So the Lord, so to speak,...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

YOM KIPPUR

The sublime holiness of the day of Yom Kippur is ushered in by the declaration of the annulmemment of vows in the Kol Nidrei service. Obviously we do not want to appear before the Heavenly court with outstanding unfulfilled commitments. But attempting to discharge one’s committed, seriously undertaken commitments by cancelling those obligations unilaterally seems, at first glance, to be a...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

HAAZINU

There are two approaches to understanding much of the prophecy contained in the grand poem of Moshe that constitutes this week’s Torah reading. Rashi in fact develops both themes thoroughly in his commentary. One view is that the Jewish people and their future are the subjects of Moshe’s Divine words. The difficulties and challenges raised in the verses of this Torah reading are those...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

ROSH HASHANAH

Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of a reflective period in the Jewish calendar year. At one and the same time we look back at the accomplishments and failures of the past year and we also look forward to our lives and hoped for achievements in the coming good year now dawning upon us. The prayers of Rosh Hashanah represent this duality of outlook. They also represent the constants in our...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

SELICHOT

The custom of reciting selichot – penitential prayers – preceding Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is an ancient one dating back to the period of the Geonim in Babylonia if not even to Talmudic times. There are different customs as to when to begin reciting these prayers. Most Sephardic and Middle Eastern Jewish congregations begin the recitation of selichot at the beginning of the month of Elul...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

NITZAVIM – VAYELECH

Ah! The covenant once more. The basis of the relationship between the Jewish people and their Creator is the covenant that exists between them. The covenant is central to the story of the Jewish people. Our father Avraham entered into and created the terms of this eternal covenant. The covenant was embodied in his flesh itself and sanctified by the sense of sacrifice that the historical narrative...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

DISTRACTIONS AND DIVERSIONS

We are all aware that our best laid plans and visions of our future are upset when life itself intervenes. We are always blindsided by unforeseen events. We are prone to be distracted and diverted by rather petty, small and even inconsequential events. The great issues that face and even bedevil the Jewish people and the Jewish state rarely receive the attention that they obviously deserve. A...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Faigie Gilbert

KI TAVO

Moshe describes in horrid detail the ravages of the disaster that will befall the Jewish people towards the end of their long exile from their homeland. We no longer have to accept the descriptions outlined in the words of Moshe as they appear in this week’s Torah reading on faith alone. We have eyewitnesses, testimonies, films, official documented government records, and written memoirs that...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Faigie Gilbert

KI TEITZEI

The Torah deals with temptation in this week’s reading. Temptation is a constant factor in human existence. Usually we do not carry out the acts that tempt us simply because of lack of opportunity and not necessarily because of our piety. People are watching, the police are in the vicinity, the circumstances currently conspire against us being successful in this tempting but illicit venture....

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

LOST CAUSES

The tendency of us old folks is to glorify the past generation of the days of our youth and to be skeptical of the motives and behavior of current generations. This tendency is so universal and pronounced that King Solomon in Kohelet warns us against so thinking for it is not out of wisdom that we believe it to be so. Yet I cannot help but in my mind compare the great causes that dominated the...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein