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This week we begin the quintessentially Jewish holiday of Passover. That is because it is a holiday filled with food, friendship and family. Furthermore, the Passover Seder and the recounting of the story of the Exodus from Egypt reminds us of our humble beginnings, the epic story of our lib…

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This week’s Parsha, Metzora, concludes the subject of tzaraat, which was introduced in last week’s reading. 

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You may have encountered women and men who think that women can’t touch the Torah when they are menstruating. Those women and men are not aware that the torah is not m’kabel tum’ah, it is not susceptible to impurity.  It makes sense, however, that this might be less well-known, because in ti…

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This Shabbos we read the weekly Torah portion of Shemini and Parshas Parah, which discusses the laws of one that becomes impure from contact with a corpse and the method for becoming pure once again. 

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Throughout my childhood, my parents taught me the importance of a well-written thank-you note. I was not allowed to play with a toy or use money received for a birthday or Chanukah gift until the handwritten card was signed and sealed. There was a time, as an adolescent, when I decided to te…

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This week we begin reading the third book, Vayikra (Leviticus) of the five books of Moses. The last few Torah portions of Shemot (Exodus) elaborated on the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). The book of Vayikra focuses on the many animal offerings that were given by the Jewish people in t…

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I would like to share a letter written in 1951 from Lubavitcher Rebbe, which I recently came across.

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Do you remember the famous Pulitzer Prize-winning social experiment when Washington Post writer Gene Weingarten enlisted renowned violinist Joshua Bell? A winner of the Avery Fisher Prize for outstanding achievement in classical music, Bell, who regularly undertakes more than 200 internation…

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On the list of items and materials required to produce the priestly uniforms, there was one thing that was particularly difficult to obtain. To follow the plans for making the choshen (breast plate) and ephod (apron), the craftsman would need a list of several rare gem stones. How would they…

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The meaning I picked, the one that changed my life: Overcome fear, behold wonder. — Richard Bach

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This week, we find the Torah going through the royal clothing of the Kohanim in great detail. They were made of either all white and linen for a regular cohen or a mixture of wool and linen — a combination that is not allowed in normal garments — for the Kohen Gadol, High Priest. This High P…

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One of my students recently asked me, “You always say God is everywhere, but sometimes I find it hard to see. How do you see God in everything?” I have been thinking about this question a lot, especially since we read in this week’s Torah portion, “And let them make for Me a sanctuary that I…

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On this Shabbat in Jewish communities throughout the world we will read the Ten Commandments, which can be found in Parshat Yitro. During the recitation of the Ten Commandments each year, individuals within congregations will stand up. This act reminds us all that we each “stood” along with …

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Dear parents: There is no question that our child-rearing years can often seem to be the ultimate roller coaster ride. Just as we find ourselves reaching a potential breakthrough, in which our children seem to display the maturity/kindness/responsibility/etc. for which we had labored mightil…

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In Parshat Bo, we learn that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. This is perhaps the greatest problem in the Exodus story and still the worst of moral conundrums today. It is the root of the great societal ill that causes a breakdown in social trust and empathy. Sadly, it is becoming even more per…

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In this week’s parsha, the daughter of Pharoah goes down to bathe in the Nile while her maidens walk along the river. She spies a basket among the reeds and sends her slave girl to fetch it. The next verse tells us: “Vatiftach, vitirayhu et hayeled vihiney naar bocheh,” “she opened the baske…

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As the end of his life drew near, Jacob assembled his 12 sons to share his final thoughts with them. Although the Torah refers to these comments as blessings, they are mostly varying degrees of harsh criticism. Two brothers that were recipients of perhaps the most severe comments were Simon …

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As I write this, I am, again, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, at the Fifth Forum for Promoting Global Peace. I am continuing to build bridges with Muslim, Christian and Jewish faith leaders from Phoenix, the United States, and religious leaders and scholars from around the world (but tha…

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Chanukah is unlike all the other holidays we celebrate. Usually, festivities center around a meal, a kiddush, Hamotzi and festive foods fulfilling our physical needs. 

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When I was a young boy, I used to watch a television show called “Branded.” At the beginning of each episode, we would witness a scene in which the main character, a soldier played by Chuck Connor, was drummed out of the Army. His hat was pulled off, his epaulets and buttons were torn from h…

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 “And he took from what he had with him a present to Esav his brother … and Esav ran toward him and embraced him … and kissed him …” (Bereshit 32:14; 33:4)

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Over the last two years, an evangelical pastor, an imam and this rabbi have worked intentionally to create bonds of friendship through shared experiences in our community. This is not a joke. And it is not “interfaith dialogue.” It is “multifaith dialogue.” Multifaith dialogue differs from i…

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As the Jewish community is still in shock from the largest massacre of Jews in American history, we turn as always to our timely and timeless Torah for guidance and direction on how to live our lives.

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Over several months, I visited a woman who had terminal cancer. She was confined to a single room and a bed. She was regularly provided with medication to manage pain. The scope of her life experiences, which had been filled with family, friends, international travel, fine food and fashion, …

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What is the essence of Jewish service? A famous midrash (found in the introduction to the aggadic compilation Ein Yaakov) asks: “What is the most important verse in all of the Torah?” Ben Zoma said, “We found a verse which is all inclusive: ‘Shema Yisrael, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Ekhad.’ ” (…

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"To whom shall I turn when the clouds of the present eclipse the rays of tomorrow?... I enter the sanctuary, again, to await the echo of your promise. — Rabbi Harold from “When I Cry”

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