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Torah Study

This week's Parsha

The magic of Hershel Potter-stein

Numbers 16:1–17:15

Wednesday 06/14/2017
Self-interest transforms good into evil
Posted: June 14, 2017

Shelach, Numbers 13:2-26

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Wednesday 06/07/2017
Parshat Beha’alotcha: Virtues of compromise
Posted: June 07, 2017

What is the primary approach judges should take? In this week’s Torah portion, we learn about the nature of the Sanhedrin and its role in ensuring keen justice for the Jewish people. Indeed, compared to systems of justice that only seek retribution over rehabilitation, Judaism takes a more utilitarian approach. Further, Judaism offers a novel approach; that arguing that compromise is the approach of the wise.

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Thursday 06/01/2017
Internalizing a message
Posted: June 01, 2017

How does one determine whether we have infused into our children or students a proper, strong moral and ethical value? How can we see if the lessons that we taught them during their formative years have had the desired impact?

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Wednesday 05/24/2017
Just deserts
Posted: May 24, 2017

When we were children, our teachers would provide us with mnemonic devices to recall how to spell different words correctly. Remember the classic: “i before e except after c”? There was another such pedagogic device that I recall regarding the spelling of the words dessert and desert respectively. My teacher taught that “dessert,” that delicious final course of the meal, was spelled with two S’s because we always wanted seconds, whereas when it came to the desert or wilderness, we generally do not want more than one.

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Wednesday 05/17/2017
The lesson of temporary residence
Posted: May 17, 2017

Financial life should be very simple, according to the Torah. That’s because people who don’t own anything have simple financial lives. And according to the Torah, no one actually owns anything! This is not a communist approach, but rather a biblical approach.

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Wednesday 05/10/2017
Before you take, think of others
Posted: May 10, 2017

Parshat Emor outlines the “fixed times” of the year – the sacred festivals of the Jewish people. It instructs us to count the seven weeks of seven days between Pesach and Shavuot. This is the Counting of the Omer, the season in which we currently find ourselves.

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Wednesday 05/03/2017
Judge with righteousness
Posted: May 03, 2017

On Yom Kippur morning, a number of years ago, a congregant comes over to me and says, “Rabbi, Look what I’m wearing on my feet.” I look down and notice his new shoes. He continues, “Last night after Kol Nidrei you announced we do not wear leather shoes on Yom Kippur. So I went to the mall and bought these non-leather shoes!”

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Wednesday 04/26/2017
Time travel through Torah
Posted: April 26, 2017

As I study Torah, I sometimes imagine myself a time traveler, trying to glean some awareness of the lives of my Israelite ancestors without the perspective of my own contemporary view of the world. This week’s Torah portion, Tazria-Metzora, provides me with a challenging journey through time.

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Wednesday 04/19/2017
Accomplishing our purpose
Posted: April 19, 2017

In this week’s Torah portion of Shemini, the Torah relates that on the inaugural day of the Mishkan (tabernacle), the traveling temporary home the Jewish people built for G-d in the desert, the two older sons of Aharon the high priest, Nadav and Avihu, brought an offering for G-d. The only problem is that it was not requested of them and therefore, the Torah calls it foreign fire. Their punishment: being consumed by a heavenly fire. What could be wrong with wanting to become closer to G-d through bringing a sacrifice?

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