Believe in the Goodness

In this week's Parsha, the first in the Book of Devarim, Deuteronomy, Moshe recounts before Israel the episode of the spies, in which one representative of each of the twelve tribes entered into Israel to spy it out, and they returned with an evil report (see Numbers...

Start Building Now

The portion this week begins with the laws of vows. The great Chassidic master, Rabbi Tzadok HaCohen ztl, established the following rule of biblical interpretation: the first place a particular word is used in the Torah is the word's essence, its foundation, and...

The Face of A Dog

In this week's reading, G-d tells Moshe to ascend Mt. Avarim and look upon the Promised Land, which Moshe would not enter. Rather, he would soon pass away, as his brother Aharon had before him. Moshe immediately (and selflessly) calls upon HaShem to appoint a new...

Battle Back with Blessings

In Jewish tradition, one can pray for others in both formal and informal settings. Simply saying "Be well!" — or, as Mr. Spock put it, "Live long and prosper!" — is a prayer. Even the most common term used for greetings in Hebrew is "peace be upon you," or simply a...
Love Humans. Dogs Are Too Easy.

Love Humans. Dogs Are Too Easy.

An old Jewish man was shipwrecked on a desert island, and rescued after many long years. His rescuers were surprised he was able to survive all alone for that long. "How did you manage?" they asked. "I lived on fish and berries", he explained, "and of course I always...

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Lawfully Good

Lawfully Good

What does it mean to live life to its fullest? Do you imagine reading a storybook with your (grand)children, vacationing on the Mediterranean, or sky diving? It obviously depends upon whom you ask, but these answers share one thing in common - the freedom to choose....

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In Every Generation, Including Today’s

In Every Generation, Including Today’s

"In every generation they stand against us to destroy us, and the Holy One, Blessed be He, saves us from their hands." These words from the Passover Haggadah are as true today as they were when written, well over a millennium ago. They are also why threats, terror and...

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It’s That Time of Year Again!

It’s That Time of Year Again!

As we mentioned last week, the spiritual disease called "Tzaraas" shows itself as a physical blemish on the body and one's clothing. The Torah reading this week describes how it might even afflict the walls of a house. The process for diagnosis and removal of this...

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Little Prayers

Little Prayers

The Torah portions this week and next are devoted mostly to the spiritual disease of Tzara'as. Tzara'as is a physical blemish found on the body, clothing, or the walls of the house, that is diagnosed by a member of the Jewish priestly class, a Kohein. It is said to...

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Purim: A Celebration for Uncertain Times

Purim: A Celebration for Uncertain Times

Is it just me, or does the world seem to become more volatile every day? We used to say that last year, we could never imagine where we would be today. Now we say the same thing about last week. The renowned Rabbi Berel Wein, who I was privileged to have as a teacher...

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What Ukrainian Victims Can Teach Us About Happiness

What Ukrainian Victims Can Teach Us About Happiness

This week we welcome in the Jewish month of Adar—in actuality, Adar II, as a leap year on the Jewish calendar involves a full extra month, to keep the holidays in their seasons on the solar calendar while marking months by the cycle of the moon. The Talmud says, "When...

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Driving Skills

Driving Skills

The Mishkan (Tabernacle) was like a movable forerunner of the Holy Temple. As the Jewish People traveled through the desert for forty years, they assembled it at each of their encampments, and took it down when it was time to move on. But despite its portability, the...

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Fit for an Audience with the King

Fit for an Audience with the King

After Moshe (Moses) witnessed the sin of the golden calf, and he delivered the justice and retribution due to those who sinned, he then went back and ascended Mount Sinai once again, to appeal to G-d for forgiveness on behalf of the Jewish nation. He said what appears...

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Growth in Vestments

Growth in Vestments

The first half of this week's Torah portion is devoted to the details of the vestments worn by the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) while serving in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) in the Desert, and eventually in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Each of the eight articles of clothing...

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Gifting Without Glory

Gifting Without Glory

The great Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin, the Rabbinical Academy of the Sages of Lublin, opened in 1930, between the two world wars. Under the leadership of Rabbi Meir Shapiro zt"l, the school built a magnificent building which still stands today (although it was ransacked...

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A Desperate Caller

A Desperate Caller

Running late for his flight, Jerry pulled into the airport parking lot and anxiously searched for an open spot. With only minutes left to go through security and reach his gate, Jerry desperately cried out to G-d, "Please, Please! I have to make this flight. Help me...

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