A Taste of Torah in Honor of Shabbat
Previous Divrei Torah
PARSHAT NITZAVIM - VA-YELEKH
EACH GENERATION REACHES HIGHER AND HIGHER
SEPTEMBER 7-8, 2007 / 25 ELUL 5767
In the portion of Va-yelekh, Moshe (Moses) declares
that God has not permitted him to enter
land of Israel. (Deuteronomy 31:2)
PARSHAT KI TAVO
THE IMPORANCE OF PERSPECTIVE AND FOLLOW-UP
AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 1, 2007 / 18 ELUL 5767
Four sentences found in this week's portion have
become a central element of
the Passover Seder.
PARSHAT KI TETZE
TO WHAT CAN THE LOVE BETWEEN GOD AND
HIS PEOPLE BE COMPARED?
AUGUST 24-25, 2007 / 11 ELUL 5767
The love between God and His people is often
the marital relationship.
EACH ONE OF US IS LIKE THE TREE OF THE FIELD
AUGUST 17-18, 2007 / 4 ELUL 5767
The Torah's sympathetic attitude toward ecology
surfaces in a law legislating conduct during war.
ADDING AND SUBTRACTING FROM THE TORAH:
THE RABBI'S ROLE IN THE LEGAL PROCESS
AUGUST 10-11, 2007 / 27 AV 5767
This week's Torah portion gives us a curious
mitzvah. It tells us not to add or subtract
commandments. (Deuteronomy 13:1)
THE SIMPLE KEY TO WHY GOD
GIVES US THE COMMANDMENTS
AUGUST 3-4, 2007 / 20 AV 5767
Although we may live lives dedicated to following
the commandments of the Torah, the core question
of "What does God ask of us?" is posed
Torah portion this week.
THE DIVINE NEED FOR EACH ONE OF US
JULY 27-28, 2007 / 13 AV 5767
Without the world, what would God be? The answer
is simply, God. On the other hand, without God,
would cease to exist.
NATIONAL EVENTS SERVE AS A CORRECTIVE
FOR INDIVIDUAL ONES
July 20-21, 2007 / 6 AV 5767
Many events in the book of Bereishit (Genesis)
repeat themselves in Devarim (Deuteronomy)
PARSHAT MATOT - MASEI
THE VALUE OF LIVING IN THE LAND OF ISRAEL
JULY 13-14, 2007 / 28 TAMMUZ 5767
The portion of Masei includes the sentence that speaks
to the commandment of living in Israel. The key phrase
is "and you shall take possession of the land
dwell therein." (Numbers 33:53)
THE POWER IN STEPPING BACK
JULY 6-7, 2007 / 21 TAMMUZ 5767
One way that people attempt to attain transcendence is
by guiding their children on the path they began. Even
Moshe (Moses), who was first and foremost
the nation of Israel
THE POWER OF LOVE TO CONQUER HATRED
JUNE 29-30, 2007 / 14 TAMMUZ 5767
Could it be that Bilaam, the gentile prophet, saddled his
own animal when he set forth to curse the Jews?
(Numbers 22:21) For someone of his stature, a prophet,
it certainly seems
beneath his dignity.
THE LIMITATIONS OF THE HUMAN MIND
JUNE 22-23, 2007 / 7 TAMMUZ 5767
There are differing opinions concerning the meaning of
"hok" (commonly translated as statute), the type of
law discussed at the beginning of this
portion. (Numbers 19)
DISSENT FOR THE SAKE OF HEAVEN
JUNE 15-16, 2007 / 30 SIVAN 5767
The controversy of Korach and his congregation-unlike
the controversy of the scholars Hillel and Shammai -
is a controversy not pursued in a Heavenly cause.
It, therefore, does not endure. (Ethics 5:17)
Why is Korach's disagreement
with Moshe (Moses) so tainted?
THE GIFT OF OPPORTUNITY IS NOT LIMITLESS
JUNE 8-9, 2007 / 23 SIVAN 5767
A glimpse at the narrative in the book of Numbers
reveals an almost parallel pattern of
events to that which occurred to
the Jews after
their leaving Egypt.
LIMITATION CAN BE A CONDUIT TO FREEDOM
JUNE 1-2, 2007 / 16 SIVAN 5767
Complaining to Moshe (Moses), the Israelites cry
out that they remember the fish served to
them in Egypt that they received without
"hinam." (Numbers 11:5)
THE PARALLEL NATURE OF
AND HUMAN LOVE
SHAVUOT - MAY 22-24, 2007 / 6-7 SIVAN 5767
Shavuot is a celebration of that moment when we,
the Jewish people, were wed to God. Note the
parallel between that moment and
wedding of bride and groom.
THE GREAT IMPORTANCE OF COUNTING
MAY 18-19, 2007 / 2 SIVAN 5767
This week's portion contains a counting of the Jewish
people. Nachmanides offers several ideas to
explainthe reason for such a census.
has a deep message.
WHY DO THE GOOD SUFFER?
MAY 11-12, 2007 / 24 IYAR 5767
This week's portion clearly states that good
people are rewarded while evil people are
punished. In the words of the Torah: "If you
keep my commandments...then I will
rains in their season"
NO HUMAN CAN GIVE ALL ANSWERS
AT THE MOMENTS OF DEEPEST DESPAIR
MAY 4-5, 2007 / 17 IYAR 5767
This week's Torah portion presents many rules
pertaining to the Kohen (Jewish priest).
Among these laws is the prohibition against
with the dead.
PARSHAT AHAREI MOT - KEDOSHIM
THE MEANING OF THE WORD
APRIL 27-28, 2007 / 10 IYAR 5767
How does one attain the status of kedusha
commanded in one of this
Torah portions? (Leviticus 19:2)
PARSHAT TAZRIA - METZORAH
THE MEANING OF TUMAH
APRIL 20-21, 2007 / 3 IYAR 5767
There are many who believe that Jewish law links
a menstruating woman (niddah)
with that which is
THE RATIONALE FOR THE DIETARY LAWS
APRIL 13-14, 2007 / 26 NISAN 5767
The Torah in this week's Parsha mandates that for animals
kosher they must possess two characteristics--cloven hooves
and chew the cud. (Leviticus 11:3)
THE DEEPER MEANING OF DAYENU
APRIL 2-10, 2007 / 14-22 NISSAN 5767
Perhaps the most famous song in the haggadah is
What is its meaning?
ONE WORD CAN MAKE A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE
MARCH 23-24 2007 / 5 NISAN 5767
Having completed the portions describing the building of
the Mishkan (tabernacle), the Torah now presents the order
that were offered there.
THE GLORY AND DANGER OF HUMAN CREATIVITY
MARCH 16-17, 2007 / 27 ADAR 5767
When looking at this week's portion, an interesting juxtaposition
is presented. The construction of the Mishkan is placed right next
to the concept of Shabbat in the
beginning of the portion. Why?
PARSHAT KI TISA
GOD ACTUALLY DESIRES OUR DEMANDS
MARCH 9-10, 2007 / 20 ADAR 5767
Is it appropriate to challenge God when
things are going wrong?
THE ULTIMATE ARBITER OF CHECKS AND BALANCES
MARCH 2-3, 2007 / 13 ADAR 5767
Built into an open democratic system of government is the idea
that too much power should not be
invested in any one individual.
THE MISHKAN AS A VEHICLE TO OUR
CONNECTION WITH GOD
FEBRUARY 23-24, 2007 / 6 ADAR 5767
Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik of blessed memory, points out that
prayer and prophecy are two sides of the same coin. While both
involve dialogue between the human being and God, there is
one major difference: In prophecy God initiates the
dialogue, while in prayer,
the human being is the initiator.
LOOKING AT THE COMMANDMENTS HORIZONTALLY
FEBRUARY 16-17, 2007 / 29 SHEVAT 5767
Jewish law is commonly broken down into two
groups, laws which refer to
the link between
humanity and God (bein adam la-Makom)
relationships (bein adam le-havero).
JEWISH HISTORY AS A VEHICLE TOWARD BELIEF
FEBRUARY 9-10, 2007 / 22 SHEVAT 5767
Right at the outset of the Aseret Hadibrot, the
ten declarations (commonly
translated as the
Ten Commandments), God declares "I am
the Lord your God
out of the Land of Egypt." (Exodus 20:2)
A SALVATION OF PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH
FEBRUARY 2-3, 2007 / 15 SHEVAT 5767
"Where is God?" asked Menahem Mendel of Kotzk, one of the great
Hasidic masters. "Everywhere," replied his students. "No, my
children," he responded, "God is not everywhere,
where you let Him enter."
UNDERSTANDING THE TRUE NATURE OF REPARATIONS
JANUARY 26-27, 2007 / 8 SHEVAT 5767
How could it be that as the Jews left Egypt they despoiled
the Egyptians (va-yenatzlu) and
took their goods (Exodus 12:36).
THE DIVINE PLAN OF THE TEN PLAGUES
JANUARY 19-20, 2007 / 1 SHEVAT 5767
Although the plagues may seem like random punishments,
they are actually a Divine plan to teach
some fundamental lessons.
IN A PLACE WHERE THERE IS NO HUMANITY,
STAND TALL AND ASSERT YOURS
JANUARY 12-13, 2007 / 23 TEVET 5767
After being raised in the Egyptian palace, Moshe (Moses)
into the field and sees an Egyptian smiting a Jew.
In the words
of the Torah, "He looked this way
and that way, and when
he saw there was no man (ish)
he smote the Egyptian." (Exodus 2:12)
THE UNIQUE CHARACTER OF THE
JANUARY 5-6, 2007 / 16 TEVET 5767
Notified that his father Yaakov (Jacob) is sick, Yosef (Joseph)
takes his sons Ephraim and Menashe to see their
As they enter, Yaakov proclaims
"Who are these?" (Genesis 48:8)
THE IMPORTANCE OF TEARS
DECEMBER 29-30, 2006 / 9 TEVET 5767
When Yaakov (Jacob) meets his son Yosef (Joseph) after seventeen
years of separation the Torah states, "And he wept on his neck."
(Genesis 46:29) Since the sentence speaks of only one
individual crying, "and he wept,"
who is the Torah referring to?
WHY ARE WE CALLED YEHUDIM?
DECEMBER 22 - 23, 2006 / 2 TEVET 5767
It is commonly known that the reason that we call
the name Yehudim (Jews) is because
most of us come literally from
the Kingdom of Judah,
or more specifically the tribe of Judah.
is a deeper reason
GOOD THINGS HAPPEN WHEN PEOPLE ACT
DECEMBER 15-16, 2006 / 25 KISLEV 5767
The dreams of the butler (sar ha-mashkim) and baker (sar ha-ofim)
seem quite similar. Each of their dreams contain food (grapes,
TWO IMPORTANT ELEMENTS IN ACHIEVING CHANGE
DECEMBER 8-9, 2006 / 18 KISLEV 5767
Is public protest an effective means of bringing about change?
While many insist on its value, some have argued that
demonstrations on behalf of Jewish causes precipitate
anti-Semitic backlash. This week's Torah
an insight into this debate.
JACOB MEETS RACHEL-TEARS OF JOY,
SADNESS AND AWARENESS THAT NOTHING
DECEMBER 1-2, 2006 / 11 KISLEV 5767
As Ya'akov (Jacob) flees Esav (Esau) he arrives near his
uncle Laban's home. There he sees his cousin Rachel.
The Torah tells us, "And Ya'akov kissed Rachel
(Genesis 29:11) Why the tears?
YAAKOV AND YISRAEL: THE INTEGRATION
OF BODY AND SOUL
NOVEMBER 24-25, 2006 / 4 KISLEV 5767
This week's portion tells of Yitzchak's (Isaac) special love
for Esav (Esau) and Rivka's (Rebecca) special love for
Yaakov (Jacob). (Genesis 25:28) One wonders
how Yitzchak could
have been so naive to
PARSHAT HAYEI SARAH
THE SHALSHELET: THE MUSICAL NOTE
WITH A DEEP MESSAGE
NOVEMBER 17 - 18, 2006 / 27 HESHVAN 5767
Words have the power to express ideas. But as expressive
as words can be, they can sometimes be limiting. Often music
can give soul and meaning to
ideas that words cannot.
THE TEST OF FAITH IS BELIEVING IN GOD
EVEN WHEN OUR PRAYERS ARE NOT ANSWERED
NOVEMBER 10-11, 2006 / 20 HESHVAN 5767
After the binding of Yitzchak (Isaac) episode (akedat Yitzchak),
the Torah tells us that Nachor, Avraham's (Abraham) brother, was
THE GREATEST ROLE MODELS ARE ONES
THAT SHOWS THEY ARE TRULY HUMAN
NOVEMBER 3-4, 2006 / 13 HESHVAN 5767
At Sarah's insistence, Abraham marries Hagar.
Hagar becomes pregnant and Sarah
then becomes enraged. Here,
the Torah uses
the word va-te-a’ne-hah, which is commonly translated
"and she (Sarah)
oppressed her (Hagar)." (Genesis 16:6)
THE SECRET TO EVERLASTING CREATION
OCTOBER 27-28, 2006 / 6 HESHVAN 5767
This week's portion describes the famous story in Genesis of the
great deluge that destroyed the earth. Why must the narrative tell
us about the
flood in such great detail?
EACH OF US HAS A GODLY SPARK
OCTOBER 20-21 2006/ 29 TISHREI 5767
While some maintain that the human being is only physical form,
the Torah, in one of its most important sentences,
every person is also created in the
God-tzelem Elokim (Genesis 1:26,27).
PARSHAT VEZOT HA-BERAKHA
THE TORAH: BLACK FIRE ON WHITE FIRE
OCTOBER 13-15, 2006/ 21-23 TISHREI 5767
The last portion of the Torah includes one of its more
esoteric phrases-"eish da'at, the fiery law." (Deuteronomy 33:2)
The Midrash concludes that this phrase is a
description of the Torah.
SUKKOT AND EMPTY SYNAGOGUES
OCTOBER 6-8, 2006/ 15 TISHREI 5767
Synagogues have been packed. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
are the busiest times
for synagogues everywhere.
A YOM KIPPUR REFLECTION
SEPTEMBER 29-OCTOBER 2, 2006 / 8-10 TISHREI 5767
Rabbi Yaacov ben Asher writes that during different times in prayer,
there are different physical postures that we take. We stand when
reciting the Amidah and fall on our faces when saying
of Tachanun. (Tur, Orach Chayim 131)
A ROSH HASHANAH REFLECTION
SEPTEMBER 22-24, 2006/ 1-2 TISHREI 5767
We live in a world where people emphasize history - their past, or
the future - their hopes and dreams. Does the present really occur?
After anticipating a particular event it passes
in an instant
and becomes a memory.
TESHUVAH: GOD'S RETURN TO US
SEPTEMBER 15-16, 2006/ 23 ELUL 5766
Parshat Nitzavim, the first of the two portions we read this week,
is replete with the message of
PARSHAT KI TAVO
ANTI-ZIONISM IS A COVER FOR ANTI-SEMITISM
SEPTEMBER 8 - 9, 2006 / 16 ELUL 5766
Three covenants (brit) are mentioned in the Torah, the covenant
of the pieces (Genesis 15), the covenant of Sinai (Exodus 19), and
the covenant of our portion, which was made just prior to our entry
into Israel (Deuteronomy 29). Truth be told, they each contribute to
the making of the nation of Israel.
THE CHALLENGE OF MORALITY IN THE FACE OF WAR
AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 1, 2006 / 13 ELUL 5766
"All is fair in love and war." Not so in Judaism.
In fact, the test of moral
THE ROLE OF THE JEWISH KING
AUGUST 25-26, 2006 / 2 ELUL 5766
Whether appointing a king is legally obligatory or not is a
of great controversy. But whether it is or is not, the
that it is human nature that
ask for leadership in the
of a king. (Deuteronomy 17:14)
ADDING AND SUBTRACTING FROM THE TORAH:
THE RABBI'S ROLE IN THE LEGAL PROCESS
AUGUST 18-19, 2006 / 25 AV 5766
This week's Torah portion gives us a curious mitzvah.
It tells us
not to add or subtract
the commandments. (Deuteronomy 13:1)
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE LAND OF ISRAEL
AUGUST 11-12, 2006 / 18 AV 5766
Over and over our portion emphasizes the importance
of inheriting the
land of Israel. (Deuteronomy 8:1, 9:1)
Why is Israel
so crucial to
our covenant with God?
PARSHAT VAETCHANAN NACHAMU
AUGUST 4-5, 2006 / 11 AV 5766
Moshe (Moses) in this weeks' portion implores
God for permission to
enter into Israel.
THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN HUMAN ENDEAVOR
AND DIVINE INTERVENTION
JULY 28-29, 2006 / 4 AV 5766
There is a Talmudic story that reveals a lot about how we should
react when facing adversity. It is one that is obviously an appropriate
one to focus upon just days before Tisha B'Av, the 9th of Av, when
both Temples were
destroyed in Jerusalem.
IN TIMES OF DANGER, RUN TO ISRAEL
RATHER THAN FROM ISRAEL
JULY 21-22, 2006 / 26 TAMMUZ 5766
In one of this week's portions Reuven, Gad and half of Menashe
request to remain on the
eastern side of the Jordan.
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