On the Other Side

In this week's reading, Abraham is called an Ivri, a Hebrew, for the first time. "And it was told to Abraham, the Hebrew... (Genesis 14:13)." What is the meaning of this word Ivri, one of the most common descriptors of the Jews? An Ivri, simply, is "the one on the...
The Greatest Thing in the Whole Wide World

The Greatest Thing in the Whole Wide World

At the end of last week's portion, Bereishis, we were introduced to Noah, the one man who found G-d's favor in the debased generation of the flood. This week the portion opens, "These are the children of Noah" -- but the Torah then elaborates on Noah's personal...

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Back to the Beginning

Back to the Beginning

When I finish a book, I most often have little desire to read it again. I even feel somewhat relieved that I've made it through the few hundred pages, even if I enjoyed the journey. It is rare to find a book so rich with ideas or intriguing characters that I might...

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Real Joy and Plastic Frogs

Real Joy and Plastic Frogs

The Siddur describes the holiday of Sukkos as "Our time of happiness." After the intense and cleansing High Holy Days, we can now rejoice with our Creator, celebrating our renewed relationship. Also, if we consider the agricultural cycle in Israel (or most anywhere in...

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A Closer Look

A Closer Look

We are now in the middle of the Ten Days of Repentance, culminating with the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah, which just passed, was the Day of Judgment for the new year. Many have asked a simple, yet compelling question: why shouldn't we first have our...

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The Counsel of My Heart

The Counsel of My Heart

Our reading this week contains an extraordinary passage, one which is very relevant for the upcoming High Holy Days. Moshe gathers the Nation of Israel together, and describes to them a truly unforgivable sin. It is so terrible that "Hashem will not be willing to...

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That First Time

That First Time

The first Mitzvah found in this week's Torah portion is the obligation to bring the first fruits to the Temple in Jerusalem. At the end of this passage, Moshe (Moses) says "Today, G-d, your Master, has commanded you to carry out these statutes and the laws. You should...

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