Leadership Requires Being Open to Critique

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There can be little doubt that the greatest historic leader of the Jewish people is Moses. The entire Torah becomes known as “The Five Books of Moses” or Torat Moshe; the last lines of Deuteronomy remind us: “Never again did there arise in Israel a prophet like Moses.” But what qualities made him a truly… Read More

Hidden Miracles

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The following comes from a classic piece of Torah commentary authored by Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman. Popularly known as Nachmanides, he was born in 1194 in Girona, Spain, and passed away in Israel in 1270. What event in Jewish history should we remember more than any other? Its narrative takes up most of this week’s… Read More

Mean Mrs. Cohen

“You missed,” Ruthy yelled to Sara, as they played a game of dodgeball in the school courtyard at recess. The sounds of girls giggling and balls bouncing filled the spring air. Ruthy ran after the ball, as it rolled under the porch of an apartment next door. She looked up to see an old lady… Read More

Take Time To Ribbit

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“Frogs here, frogs there, frogs were jumping everywhere!” So go the lyrics to a truly infectious children’s song for Passover, which focuses comically on the plague of frogs, found in our Torah portion this Shabbat, Va’eira.  A close reading of the beginning of Exodus 8 will point out a linguistic anomaly. The threat made to… Read More

Challenging God

My bar mitzvah parsha is Shemot. Shemot is an action-packed parsha. Moses is rescued from the Nile as a baby. Then, he kills an Egyptian taskmaster. God appears to Moses through ancient Skype, a burning bush. Moses is called on by God to speak to Pharaoh on behalf of the slaves. From all of these… Read More

Preservation and Sacrifice

Last week, the world lost a great man, Nelson Mandela. One of my favorite Mandela stories happened to a friend of mine in Cape Town. She was standing under her chupa and felt a slight tug on her wedding dress. She looked around to see what was going on. Nelson Mandela was straightening out her… Read More

Forgiveness

The themes of reunification and forgiveness are reflected in this week’s Haftorah and parsha. The Haftorah features the prophet Ezekiel following God’s instructions — taking two sticks and carving the names of the kingdoms of Ephraim and Judah on each and raising them together as one stick before the people. Ezekiel’s act, as commanded by… Read More

The Case Of The Stolen Bicycle

I loved my brand new 10-speed bike, a shiny black Diamondback. I would ride around after school and visit my friends. When school started, a new kid, Adam, would come over and ask me all kinds of questions about it. “Where did you get it?” he would ask. “Where can I get one?” Sometimes his… Read More

What Is A Miracle?

Today is Chanukah. The holiday we know today first took place around 200 B.C.E. in Judea or what is known today as Israel. Antiochus III, Greek king of Syria, took over Judea and was fair to the Jews, allowing them to follow their traditions and their beliefs. But when his son, Antiochus IV, took over,… Read More

Learning From Dreams

The name of this week’s Torah portion is Vayeshev, which is in the Book of Genesis. It is a continuation of the story of Joseph. In Vayeshev, Joseph is now in Egypt. Sadly, at this point in the story, Joseph is in prison, where he encounters two new prisoners. One is Pharaoh’s cup bearer and… Read More