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BAMIDBAR 5781

Our Parsha begins this fourth book of the written Torah by stating that the Lord spoke to Moshe in the desert of Sinai. In fact, this entire book takes its identity from the fact that it was spoken to Moshe and written by him while in the desert of Sinai. A question naturally arises about the significance that all of this was taught and expounded upon in the desert of Sinai. What difference does...

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Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

A LOST CUSTOM

For most of my life, I was accustomed to visiting people in their homes and in receiving visitors in my own home. My generation communicated with each other by letter correspondence or face-to-face personal visits. I remember as a child how the colleagues and friends of my father and mother would come to visit us in our home on long Friday night winters in Chicago and how we would reciprocate. ...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

TRAGEDIES

It seems that, in spite of the best efforts of human beings and societies, tragedies are unavoidable in the regular course of human existence. The tragedy that we in Israel suffered on Lag B'Omer is still too fresh and the wound is too open to be able to assess it properly. There will be the commissions of inquiry, recommendations as to future security and crowd control, as well as a frenzied...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

BEHAR – BECHUKOTAI 5781

The reading of these two sections of the Torah concludes the book of Vayikra – the book that contains most of the commandments given to the Jewish people on Sinai and for all eternity. One of the central commandments that appears in this week's reading is that of shmita – the rules regarding the sabbatical year that the Jewish people were to observe when they were in the land of Israel. This...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

LAG B’OMER 5781

The dark and sorrowful days of the counting of the Omer are interrupted suddenly by the day of commemoration that marks an abrupt ending to this sadness. According to the Talmud, it was during this period that tens of thousands of the students and disciples of the great Rabbi Akiva passed away. It was on the 33rd day of the count of the Omer when suddenly were no more deaths. The majority...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

EMOR 5781

The Torah reading this week includes a review of the holidays of the Jewish calendar. The list of holidays is repeated numerous times in the Torah. We find it in the book of Shemot and again in the book of Devarim, and here in our reading in the book of Vayikra. Since there are no needless repetitions in the holy text of the Torah, commentators over the ages have offered many explanations as to...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

COUNTING THE OMER 5781

We are now in the middle of the counting of the Omer, the seven weeks from the beginning of Pesach until the holiday of Shavuot. Since there is a difference of opinion as to whether we are obligated to count the days or weeks, our custom is to count both. However, I have always been somewhat perplexed by the general explanation, according to Jewish tradition, that this count is meant to...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

ACHAREI MOT – KEDOSHIM 5781

The Torah reading for this week is a double portion, which together contains the largest number of commandments that appears in any one section of the holy Torah. One question which has challenged Judaism throughout the ages is why do we need so many commandments to fulfill our obligation to be good, kind, and faithful? Is it not sufficient that we understand the general principles as outlined...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

TAZRIA – METZORA 5781

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...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

THE BOOK OF COMPLAINTS

When our children reached the age and stage of life when they were ready to get married, my wife and I were privileged to organize and participate in four weddings in a rather short space of years. Being a congregational rabbi, I naturally had to invite all the members of my congregation to the wedding ceremony and dinner. My wife and I labored long and hard over the invitation list and over...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein