Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

VAETCHANAN

The text of the review of the Ten Commandments that appears in this week's Torah reading differs slightly from the text that appeared previously in the book of Shemot. As you can well understand, there has been much commentary and explanation over the centuries of Jewish scholarship regarding these differences in words, even though the basic ideas of the Commandments remain constant in both...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

THE ABSENCE OF CIVILITY

There was a time, well within recorded memory, when political differences and legislative proposals that people had could be discussed and decided with a modicum of civility and even courtesy. That seems not to be true anywhere in the world any longer. Here in Israel we are accustomed to bitter politics and a great deal of personal venom. Yet, somehow this pales in comparison with the current...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

DVARIM

In summing up the story of the Jewish people, from Egyptian slavery to the eve of their entry into their promised homeland, our great teacher and leader Moshe minces no words. He reminds the people of Israel of their shortcomings and of their transgressions during the 40 years that he has led them. There is very little bitterness in his narrative but rather just the damning truth of hard facts...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

MATOT-MAASEI

In a certain sense we may view this week's Torah reading as being the concluding chapters of the written Torah of Moshe itself. Even though the fifth book of the written Torah, the book of Dvarim, is also to be treated with the holiness and eternal awe, regarding the four preceding books, there are opinions in the Talmud that they are to be assigned to a different category as far as rabbinic...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

THREE WEEKS

According to Ashkenazic custom, the period beginning on the fast of the 17th of Tamuz and ending after the fast day of the ninth day of Av is the longest slice of time dedicated to remembering any historical event having occurred to the Jewish people on the Jewish calendar. In the general world such days and commemorations are usually limited to one day such as a Memorial Day commemoration....

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Faigie Gilbert

THE SADDEST DAY

There is no doubt that the saddest day on the Jewish calendar is the commemoration of the fast day of the ninth of Av. The day marks the days of destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem millennia ago. It also harbors within it the commemoration of many other sad and tragic events throughout Jewish history. From the original reluctance of the Jewish people to enter the land of...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

PINCHAS

Pinchas was introduced to us at the conclusion of last week's Torah reading in a less than auspicious manner. In a terribly chaotic and immoral situation affecting the Jewish people, Moshe and the other leaders of Israel are at a loss as to how to arrest the moral destruction of the people occurring before their very eyes. One would've thought that a rousing sermon or a prophetic vision could...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

BALAK

After recounting all the inner failings and rebellions of the Jewish people in the desert of Sinai, as recorded for us on the Torah readings of the past few weeks, we are now forced to turn our attention to a great external threat to Jewish survival. Balak and Bilaam represent an unfortunately eternal opposition to Jewish existence and to the rights of the Jewish people as a nation. Their...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Faigie Gilbert

CHARITY

Giving charity, helping the needy and acting in a compassionate way towards those who need our help, is one of the pillars of Judaism and Jewish life. We are trained from our earliest days to share our wealth with those who, for various reasons, find themselves helplessly in need. The Talmud places great stress on giving charity and doing so in a regularly, compassionately and in an honorable...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

WHAT HAPPENED?

I have an acquaintance in the United States with whom I occasionally converse and share ideas. He is a retired Rabbi who for many years was a leading figure in the Conservative rabbinic movement in the United States. Even though we have long agreed to disagree on theological matters, nevertheless all relations are cordial and sometimes even interesting and stimulating. Neither of us are...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein