Whom Should Israel Fear Most? Parshat Ekev

It seems that an unholy alliance of international bodies conspire to condemn Israel at every possible opportunity, delegitimizing its existence, its holy sites, its economy … the list seems to be endless. The process is directed against all aspects of Israel’s religious, political, social and economic structures in an attempt to weaken the will of… Read More

The Pathos of the Shema Parshat Va’etchanan

Although I can certainly recall the moments in my Jewish experience that made my soul soar with inspiration and kavanah, I am also, at times, a yekkie I love the constancy of prayer — the keva, the fixed, rote repetition that embeds certain words into our kishkes. And perhaps no other words in all of… Read More

Heart of Humanity Parshat Devarim

Just prior to the conclusion of the 1978 Camp David Accords, Jimmy Carter submitted a letter for Prime Minister Menachem Begin that caused the Israeli leader to promptly return it to the leader of the free world unsigned. “But I did not ask you to give up Jerusalem,” said the astonished American president. “I only… Read More

A Daughters’ Share Parshat Matot-Masei

What can we do to transmit a love of the Land of Israel to the next generation? The Book of Numbers, by concluding with the case involving the five daughters of Tzelofhad, touches on this very issue. These women — Machla, Noa, Hogla, Milca and Tirza — moved all the way up the judicial and… Read More

What Was the Sin? Parshat Pinchas

Why did Pinchas kill Kozbi? Was it because of her immoral sexual seduction of an Israelite, Zimri ben Salou, or because she and her Midianite clan worshipped the idol Pe’or? Rashi (ad loc.) is aware of the ambiguity of the verse and suggests that the end-goal of the Midianites, and the reason for which they… Read More

Who Are the Jewish People? Parshat Balak

Who, or what, defines Israel, and why does it matter? If deeply concerning trends continue in the United States, research and ample anecdotal evidence indicate that those succeeding in affecting views toward Israel are the very people who attack it as a racist, discriminatory occupier lacking any moral or political legitimacy. Noble attempts to brand… Read More

Moses’ Blind Eye Parshat Chukat

Moses entered the stage of Jewish history by heroically striking an Egyptian taskmaster who was beating an Israelite slave (Ex. 2:11-12). In contrast, his unfortunate striking of a rock in this week’s biblical portion of Chukat precipitated his exit from the stage of Jewish history. His first act of striking was done out of love… Read More

The Quest for Holiness Parshat Korach

Where did Korach err in his rebellion against Moses and Aaron? On the surface, his argument appears to be both logical and just: “You [Moses and Aaron] have gone too far. The entire congregation is holy, and God is in their midst. So why do you raise yourselves above God’s assembly?” Indeed, did not the… Read More

The Sin of Misunderstanding Parshat Shlach

Of the sins that the People of Israel commit in the Bible, the most serious of all takes place in our portion of Shlach. The spies’ severe report directly causes the death of the desert generation. However, it is difficult to understand that the suggestion to establish such an ill-fated reconnaissance team came directly from… Read More

Seeking the Right Kind of Leader Parshat Beha’alotcha

The Jewish people seemed poised for entry into the Promised Land when suddenly; “The nation became a group of kvetchers, complaining evilly in the ears of the Lord saying, ‘Who will feed us meat? Remember the fish which we ate in Egypt for free, the cucumbers, the watermelons, the onions and the garlic’” (Numbers 11:1,… Read More