Crushed for Brilliance

"And you shall command the Children of Israel, and they shall take to you pure olive oil, crushed for lighting, to elevate a light at all times" [Exodus 27:20]. The Torah requires that only the purest form of olive oil be used for lighting the Menorah in the Holy...

What Sets Jews Apart

This week we read of the Revelation of the Divine Presence on Mt. Sinai, and the Ten Commandments (which actually contain fourteen of the 613 Commandments, and are more precisely translated as "the Ten Statements"). The Medrash says that Sinai is related to the...

When Free Will is Miraculous

Our reading begins, "And G-d said to Moses, come in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may place these signs among them" [10:1]. This seems to contradict the idea of free will, which is a core concept in Judaism. Much as...

Carrying True Wealth

Rav Yaakov Galinsky zt'l tells a story he attributes to Rabbi Yisrael Mayer Kagan, the Chofetz Chaim. There was a gemstone dealer from St. Petersburg who traveled all the way to Danzig (today Gdansk, Poland) to a sale. Even today, this trip takes more than a day by...
Healthy Cravings

Healthy Cravings

by Rabbi Alexander Seinfeld This week's reading includes one of the strangest episodes in the entire Torah. The Jewish People have been out of Egypt for over a year, headed slowly but surely towards the Promised Land. Despite the harsh environment of the desert...

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The Family of Gershon

The Family of Gershon

Our reading begins this week with the work and responsibilities of the family of Levi's son Gershon, one of the three families of Levites. The family of Kehas was discussed in last week's reading, and Merari follows Gershon. Each family had different responsibilities...

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Headline News

Headline News

Describing the arrival of the Children of Israel in the Sinai Desert, the Torah writes: "In the third month from the Exodus of the Children of Israel from the Land of Egypt, on that day they came to the Sinai Desert. And they traveled from Refidim, and they came to...

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Payback for Pain

Payback for Pain

This week's Torah reading begins with a command to Moshe and Aharon to take a census of the Children of Israel, and the resulting count by tribe. Rabbi Moshe Nachmanides, a famed commentator from the 13th century, notes that the tribe of Levi is notably smaller than...

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Listen on Repeat

Listen on Repeat

As a child, I recall feeling frustrated while studying for tests. I would often fantasize about a pill that contained all the knowledge I needed for school. I would simply swallow it, and would then effortlessly possess all the information I needed, eliminating the...

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Reaping the Benefits

Reaping the Benefits

In agriculture, spring is the time when crops are grown and begin to be harvested. During the times of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, this season was marked by the commandment to bring the Omer offering. The Omer offering was made up of a measure of barley flour and...

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Self-Driving

Self-Driving

One of the strongest human drives is our desire to satisfy our own wants and needs, even at the expense of others. This pursuit can often lead us to pursue honor, disregard the dignity of others, and engage in negative or destructive behaviors. However, this powerful...

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Hurdles that Heal

Hurdles that Heal

The Torah describes a Metzora, one afflicted with a disease on his skin called Tzaraas. This was a spiritual impurity with obvious physical symptoms. A Kohein (a member of the priestly Jewish tribe) would examine a lesion on a person and declare him or her to be a...

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Do You Feel Blessed?

Do You Feel Blessed?

The Passover Haggadah, which we read at the Seder, tells us about the many miracles that were done on behalf of the Jewish nation during their exodus from Egypt. It tells us that Hashem is watching over our nation and protecting us in every generation. And it also...

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Altar-ing the Flavor

Altar-ing the Flavor

A great deal of the Book of Leviticus, which we begin reading this week, discusses the animal and flour offerings brought in the Tabernacle and the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The Hebrew word for offering, "Korban," literally means a tool to bring us closer to G-d. The...

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The Shadow Knows

The Shadow Knows

Betzalel was appointed to manage the construction of the Mishkan (The Holy Tabernacle), both the building and its vessels. When Moshe (Moses) related the instructions from G-d on how to build the Mishkan, he began by describing the Holy Ark, continued with the other...

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Looking Forward to Purim

Looking Forward to Purim

When the Rabbis instituted the Mitzvah of reading the Megillah (Megillas Esther, the Scroll of Esther) on Purim, they included a number of strict laws regarding the reading and writing of the scroll. One such law is to not read the Megillah backwards, meaning that...

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