What Do you Live For?

The Talmud, at the end of the first tractate, Brachos, learns a fascinating lesson from the verse: "This is the Torah [the law]: when a person dies in a tent...” [19:14] This verse speaks about impurity that attaches to everything in the same building as someone who passed away. But Rebbe Shimon Ben Lakish says that the beginning of the verse is hinting that Torah is not truly established in a...

Learning from the Spies

Our Torah reading relates the tragic story of the Spies, sent to travel through the Land of Canaan in advance of its conquest by the People of Israel. “Send men for yourself, and they will spy out the Land of Canaan, which I give to the Children of Israel, one man for each of the tribes of their fathers shall you send, every leader in them.” [13:2] G-d told Moses, “send men for yourself” — you,...

The Importance of Good Company

This week, we witness Moshe throwing up his hands in despair. Moshe, Moshe Rabbeinu, our master teacher, he who transmitted the entire Torah directly from G-d to the Jewish People, has had it with the Jews. He's done. "And Moshe said to Hashem, 'why have You done such a bad thing to Your servant, and why have I not found favor in Your eyes, that You would place the burden of this entire nation...

Our Moral Compass

Recent stories illustrate the need for a moral compass, guidance to find correct behavior. Current events have given me new insight into how urgently we need the Torah to lead us in every area of our lives. In an opinion piece appearing today, a writer in the Jewish Chronicle confessed that he was ashamed [his word] of what he had written just days earlier. What he wrote previously included...

Where Effort Really Counts

In this week's reading, we learn about the commandment of Shmittah, the Sabbatical of the Land. The Torah says: “Six years shall you sow your field, and six years shall you prune your vineyards, and gather its produce. But in the seventh year, it will be a Holy Sabbath, a Sabbath to God; you shall not sow your field, and you will not prune your vineyards.” [Leviticus 25:3-4] The commentary of...

Self Preservation

In this week's Torah reading, the double portion of Tazria-Metzorah, most of our attention is directed to the phenomenon of Tzara'as, a spiritual blemish. People erroneously compare it to leprosy... but clothing and buildings don't become leprous. The Talmud (Ehrchin...

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Always New

For seven days and nights, Aharon and his sons sat at the entrance to the Tabernacle, as they were commanded to do. Then the eighth day arrived, the first day of Nissan, a year after leaving Egypt, and it was time to bring the first offerings to G-d. Aharon first...

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It’s OK That We Don’t Know

In this week’s reading, Rashi, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, says something truly profound. He says: “I don’t know.” He says this in other places, for example about certain species that were unknown to him. But I don’t remember him saying this in a case similar to this one.

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You’re Not All That

This week's reading, Vayikra, beginning the Book of Leviticus, teaches several lessons which all follow a single theme. The reading discusses sacrifices, including those for inadvertent sins. But not just for the "common folk," for you and me, but rather for the High...

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Doing it Right

Dedicated in honor of the wedding of Zvi Menken to Devorah Krycer on March 11, 24 Adar. “Like all that G-d Commanded Moshe, so the Children of Israel did all of the work. And Moshe saw all the labor, and behold, they had done it; in accordance with what G-d had...

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Building the Tabernacle

Rabbi Shamshon Rephael Hirsch explains that building a Jewish society with justice and humaneness is a prerequisite, before we can build something as holy as the Tabernacle. It is the foundation, without which the gifts to the Tabernacle are no Mitzvah at all.

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