When Will We Ever Learn? Parshat Ha’azinu

As we celebrate the new year, more and more of our relatives and friends are recovering from devastating disasters — a hurricane and flood in Texas and the Southeast, fires in the Northwest and, beyond our borders, an earthquake in Mexico and deadly monsoons in Bangladesh. Natural disasters are no longer something that only happen… Read More

Don’t Leave Out the ‘Why’ of Ritual Parshah Ki Tavo

There is a passage at the beginning of this week’s Torah portion that also appears in the Passover Haggadah. It concerns the prayer which begins: “When you come into the land which Adonai has given you, and dwell there, you will take the first fruit of the ground … and you will come to the… Read More

Lost but Found Parshah Ki Tetze

This week’s parshah reminds us to turn toward, rather than away from, particularly with regard to the laws relating to lost objects and animals. “You are not to see the ox of your brother or his sheep wandering away and hide yourself from them; you are to return, yes, return them to your brother …… Read More

Speak Your Mind Parshat Shoftim

In an era when strict interpretations of Jewish Law are in vogue, and when Orthodox rabbis who render decisions with a broader perspective face withering personal and professional attacks, we would do well to revisit the concepts of freedom of thought and the right of dissent within the realm of Jewish Law. Is there room… Read More

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