Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

SECULAR TYRANNY

The rabbis of the Talmud were perceptive and insightful judges of the human character and its failings and foibles. One insightful comment is that when one wishes to discredit someone else, one usually does so by accusing the other of the failing of which the accuser is guilty. In our present society which, in many parts of the world and especially in Europe, and only somewhat less so here in...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Faigie Gilbert

MASEI

It is the nature of human beings to look on the past with nostalgia. Often, we do so in a very selective manner, remembering the good and pleasant, and conveniently forgetting or ignoring the sad and unpleasant experiences. This is especially true in our time, when sections of the Jewish world, especially within the society of Orthodox Jews who descended from Eastern European ancestors, paint...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Faigie Gilbert

A CHILDLESS SOCIETY

One of the many consequences, perhaps an unintended one of the current progressive, leftist, socialist societies that comprise Europe and other places on the globe, and is visibly present in American society as well, is that of the disappearance of the importance of having children. Europe generally is suffering from a decline in its indigenous population and of its growth in terms of...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Faigie Gilbert

MATOT

The word for a staff, stick or even a scepter is the same word –mateh – that is used to describe the tribe or an integrated group of people. As has been often noted, the Hebrew language is rather sparing in its vocabulary. Therefore, often the same word is used with other meanings in different circumstances. But there always is a connection between the various uses of the word in different...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Faigie Gilbert

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