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In Parshah Ekev, Moses places Israel’s choices and their associated consequences out in the open.  Follow God’s Law, and all will be well.  There will be good food, victory in war and the people will be provided with plenty for all time. But choose to ignore the Law, and Israel will be dispo…

This parshah opens with Moses pleading with G-d to be let into the Holy Land. Standing on a mountain overlooking Israel, he yearns to walk on its holy soil. Our Sages tell us that he prayed 515 individual prayers to be allowed in. Moses saw this as a culmination of his life’s mission -̶  to …

How many of you check your email from your phone? Or communicate with others using WhatsApp? Facebook Messenger? GroupMe? How many send communications via Twitter or Instagram? One of the results of the ease with which we can communicate is that our words and conversations can lose their imp…

In order to set up this week’s Torah portion from the Book of Numbers, let me turn back to the Book of Genesis for a moment. When first introduced to Abraham, we are given scant biographical information to help us understand why God selects him to be the first patriarch of the Jewish people.…

At the end of this week’s Torah portion we read of the heroic act of Pinchas who rose to protect and honor G-d and his commandments in front of the entire Jewish nation. Pinchas killed Zimri, one of the tribal leaders of Shimon and the Moabite princess he was cohabitating with.

I was delighted with a recent invitation to participate in a mah jongg game with a group of other women. I’d never played before, but always wanted to learn. I mentioned it to my mother, who has had a standing ‘mahj’ group for years now, and she gave me my grandma’s set to use.

At the beginning of this week’s parshah, Moshe’s integrity is questioned by Korach. In order to demonstrate the Torah’s divine origin, and Moshe’s faithfulness to his mission, G-d opens the earth and swallows the questioners.

The parshah and Haftorah of Sh'lach Lecha tell of the arrival, rejection and eventual return of the Hebrews to the Promised Land. At first, they are denied entry when 10 scouts bring a terrified report, and the people doubt God’s commitment to them. Decades later, their descendants craft a p…

One of the more difficult concepts for us to grasp is the seemingly endless repetition that is part of Jewish life. “How could my prayers or actions have meaning?” we ask, “when all I do is say and do the same things over and over again?”

The most famous, and perhaps the most beautiful passage in the Torah, is the Priestly blessing, which falls in the middle of this week’s Torah portion:

“The Israelites shall camp each with his standard, under the banners of their ancestral house; they shall camp around the Tent of Meeting at a distance.” (Num. 2:2)

In leap years, parshat Behar and Bechukotai are separated and read over a two-week period. Otherwise, they are read as a double portion, and when read together, as they are this year, we look for some connection between the two narratives.

Parshah Emor delineates the special laws regulating how the high priest conducts himself. He must live according to a higher standard of sanctity than the “ordinary” Jew. For example, he is prohibited from coming in contact with a dead body.

The voices that speak from the etched tablets Moses carried down Mt. Sinai harmonize in their dissonance. That is to say, what makes Judaism whole is our internal, intergenerational dialogue that values and canonizes multiple perspectives. Torah boldly models this by placing conflicting view…

The titles given to Torah portions by the Rabbis do more than distinguish one from another, they reflect the theme and overall content of each.

There has been much emphasis during this pandemic on staying away from one another, keeping our hands clean and not touching public doors or surfaces.

Heralding the foundational narrative of the Jewish people, the Grand Shabbat is born upon the evolutionary arc of a mountain top. Shabbat HaGadol calls upon us to remember our origins as an ancient mountain people, who cultivated a socio-cultural hierarchy that mirrored the shape of elevated earth.

This week we begin Sefer VaYikra, the book of Leviticus where sacrifices are a central topic and theme. The nature of sacrifices and their application to our daily lives is of major import and can teach us life-altering lessons.

Following the catastrophic events of Ki Tisa, last week’s parshah, we begin this week with the final construction of the portable Mishkan in the wilderness.

On Thursday night we begin our celebration of the most irreverent of Jewish observances — Purim. During this holiday, we read the scroll of Esther, exchange gifts of food, mishloach manot, with friends, acquaintances and family and also offer gifts to the poor. Furthermore, it is considered …

Throughout history, due to governmental or societal pressure, Jewish values and culture were usually at odds with the surrounding environment, and so Jews always had to make one of two choices: defiance or compliance.

Mishpatim (Rules), is a miscellaneous collection of laws relating to slavery, homicide, theft, agriculture and many other matters. As interesting as these specific regulations are, they have none of the energy and drama of the Ten Commandments, which we read last week. But the Torah understa…

The Children of Israel marched out of Egypt among a myriad of miracles. They were finally free after many years of bitter slavery. But that is hardly the end of the story. Freedom is, by itself, not a goal. It merely allows one the opportunity to define and strive towards a goal. For our mis…

Transitions of any kind are difficult, and we must consider the best way to make it through them while still being true to who we are.

In the cycle of stories presented in this week’s parshah, Moses and Aaron engage in a series of confrontations with a Pharaoh to secure the freedom of the Israelites from bondage. In their corner is God, who uses the opportunity to demonstrate God’s great power and spread God’s fame in the world.

The gabai at the synagogue approached Mr. Goldfein to give him the honor of an aliyah at the Torah.

Jacob is going to die. He puts his affairs in order, conveys his wishes and breathes his last. The Age of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs is over.

This week’s parshah gives us a glimpse into the passion and strength that flows through our nation.

In the cycle of the yearly Torah reading, we are in the midst of the Joseph narrative which tells the amazing story of Jacob’s favorite son, Joseph. In last week’s parshah, Joseph was imprisoned on false charges by Potiphar’s wife. 

As parents, one of the most important things we could ever do is raise our children to be well-rounded, mature and productive members (even leaders) of society.

The candles. The oil. The darkness. The Light. For the Jewish people, the symbols of Chanukah remind us that when times seem the bleakest, there is always an escape.

Continents have been ravaged by tyrants. Countries have been decimated by despots. People have been led like sheep to slaughter. They have been tortured, maimed, executed and controlled in a cruel, phlegmatic manner — all so that someone could garner power.

This week’s parshah tells the story of Yitzhak approaching the end of his life. He summons his older son Esav “so that my soul can bless you before I die.”

There is no institution which is more significant for the preservation of civilization than the family. The well-being of society and the ideal of human progress is dependent on a firm and stable family unit. Judaism revolves around the sanctity of the family as it is absolutely vital to the…

In the year 1054, there was a huge supernova explosion, an explosion that eventually became the crab nebula. Astronomers in places as far flung as China, Japan, Arabia and even the Americas recorded the event. Yet strangely, there is no record of this gigantic event anywhere in Europe. How c…

Once a renowned cardiologist visited the Chabad Rebbe. “You should devote your attention to treating healthy people, not only the sick,” the Rebbe told him.

How many of us have experienced times when things we created or desired were upended or destroyed through calamity or nefarious forces? Think for a moment how that felt. Then imagine the Creator’s experience knowing that the “good” world (yetzer ha tov) introduced in B’reishit was corrupted …

It seems like an opening replete with sin.

The holidays of Tishrei are there to set in motion the events of the next year. Rosh Hashanah is the grand entrance of greatest joy, Yom Kippur is the solemn day of repentance where we ask for forgiveness for our transgressions, Sukkot gives us the space to reflect on the struggles of our an…

There is no doubt that of all the holidays on the Jewish calendar, Sukkot is the one most associated with happiness. There are so many joyous actions that are affiliated with the holiday — from building and living in the sukkah to shaking the four species — it is of little surprise that this…

A major facet of the Jewish holidays is the element of rejoicing. At first glance, we do not associate religious observance with “having a good time.” We differentiate between the realm of religion and that of personal gratification.

Two men walk a dusty path. One is just setting out on the great adventure of life. The other has more road behind him than ahead.

“You are standing today, all of you, before Hashem your God: the heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers — all the men of Israel; your small children, your women and your immigrant who is in the midst of your camp, from the hewer of wood to the drawer of water, for you to pass i…

The most hallowed memories of youth are invariably filled with firsts: your first bicycle, first car, first paycheck. As we travel the road of life, those firsts serve as milestones of joy and sometimes heartache like a child taking his first step or the loss of a loved one.

I know it’s a bit premature (both in terms of calendar and the pandemic), but this week’s Torah portion, Ki Teitzei, has me thinking about ushpizim, the fantasy guests that we invite into our sukkah each year.

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