Vezot Habracha: The Continuum of TorahThe joy of completion must extend to the joy of continuance, the joy of new learning and new perspectives which build level upon level on that already learned.
The Mitzvah of HakhelThe time to inculcate values in children is from their earliest youth, and especially by the example of the parents and others who sincerely strive for the ideals they preach.
What Characterized Pinchas?Pinchas committed what is termed a “sin for the sake of Heaven”, which could theoretically have a place within Jewish life, but is unworkable if attempted in practice.
Korach: Grasshopper MentalityKorach’s arrogance and lust for leadership was based on self-interest, but wrong and invalid as it was, it had an element of spiritual basis. Today we have a regime which acts only irrationally, based anti-religious bias, and self-interest.
Moshe's Paradigm of Unity and Empathy It is proper to do some action in order to feel some of the discomfort yourself when someone else experiences pain. This way [through empathy] you actually feel his pain.”
Distinguishing Compassion from CrueltyRivka Imeinu’s nurturing taught how to combine the trait of unconditional kindness with an attribute of cleverness and savvy, and the wisdom and discipline to know when to use each.
<I>Vayera</I>: Today's Lessons of SodomThis <I>vort</I> is about the two angels who were assigned by <I>HaShem</I> to rescue Lot and his family and to destroy Sodom; and it is about the <I>midos</I>, the mores, the characteristics of the people of Sodom, which led to their destruction. It is also about a perspective on Sodom in the modern day.
<i>Nitzavim</i>: Pollard and Our Gush Katif BrethrenIt would seem that the concept of collective responsibility extends to such Halachot as <i>Pidyan Sh'vu'im</i>, redeeming our Jewish brethren held captive, whether it by their home nation, by a foreign nation or by an enemy nation.
Purim, <I>Tzav Shemoneh</I> and a <I>Sefer Torah</I>If we stand up, as a <I>Kiddush HaShem</I>, and do what we're supposed to do -- stand with our brothers in Gush Katif and the Shomron, then <I>HaKadosh Baruch Hu</I> will rise up and orchestrate the defeat of this evil decree.
But What If...This morning, I found an email on my log from a friend back in the old country. My friend sent me a quote from 31 years ago that is at least as relevant now, perhaps more so, than it was on the very day it was written.
Beware of the "Monkey on Your Back"We have read about how "disengagement" and abandonment of Gush Katif, if it materializes, will spur the day when Kassam missles fall in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Rechovot and more. And we know full well that not one agorah (1/100th of a shekel) has been approved at any level of Israel's government to fund any part of the expulsion.
<I>Shoftim</I>: Justice and <I>Yad Hashem</I>As I contemplate this <I>vort</I> on our <I>parsha</I>, I sit watching the accounts throughout the evening of the "O.K. Coral", better known as the Likud Convention, voting regarding continued negotiations concerning possible Labor Party entry into a "Unity Government"; in short, the Likud Central Committee referendum on abandonment of Gush Katif.
<I>Eikev</I>: The Trickle-Up EffectPerhaps, if we are attentive to the <I>"eikev" mitzvot</I>, the small, seemingly inconsequential <I>mitzvot</I> and their minutest details, then the trickle-up effect may bring about some sense of Jewish heart, caring and sensitivity among the "powers that be" in the State.
<I>Balak</I>: "How Goodly Are Your Tents"In past years, in trying to understand the meaning behind the <I>rasha</I> Bila'am's <I>"bracha"</I>, I would relate the <I>"bracha"</I> to <I>B'nai Yisrael</I> by way of Rabbi Aba Wagensberg's analogy wherein he asked a question regarding the "curse" of the <I>nachash</I> (the snake in <I>Gan Eden</I>).
<I>Shemittah</I> and Gush KatifWhen I contemplate <i>parshat Behar</I>, I think back to the time when I was first beginning my journey as a <I>Ba'al Teshuva</I>.
A Kohen's BrachaI called Moshe Feiglin this <I>motzei Shabbat</I>. Just as I had conveyed to one of my fellow Likud/ManhigutYehudit members in <I>shul</I> just after <I>Ma'ariv</I>, I gave a Kohen's <I>bracha</I> that Moshe, Manhigut Yehudit and all opponents of the referendum in a position to observe or monitor the referendum proceedings be imbued with the same wisdom and cunning Torah tells us that <I>Ya'akov A
<i>T'ruma</i> and Its Relevancy TodayA question arises in this week's <i>parsha</i>, <i>T'ruma</i>. What does <i>T'ruma</I> have to do with the 39 <i>m'lachot assurot</I> (forbidden labors) on <i>Shabbat</i>?
Good News, Bad News and the Kahane <i>Shul</I>The <i>sefer Torah</i>, placed there two weeks earlier, apparently was violently confiscated by the army. Ten or so years ago, I recall pictures of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin being forcibly removed from Degan Hill while clutching a <i>sefer Torah</I> in his arms. Ten years later, the Israeli government and army, at the vicious instigation of Minister of Justice Lapid, seems to now deny proper dignity to
Self-Respect and Self-ImageRabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his <i>sefer</i> <I>Growth Through Torah</i>, on <i>parshas Sh'mos</I>, speaks about self-respect and the lack thereof as a cause of subjugation by others. Rabbi Pliskin cites both the <i>Ohr Hachayim</i> and Rabbi Chayim Shmuelevitz.
Gatekeepers of Social EntitlementsAs you might already know, while it was trumpeted on radio and TV that the Employment Offices were open to the public this past week; however, my arrival there told a different story.
Haran and <i>Emunah</i> vs. <i>Cheshbonot</I>When brought before the ruler, Nimrod engaged Avram in a dialogue, wherein Avram again aroused Nimrod's ire by disproving the authenticity of both Nimrod's deity and that of his idols. As a result, Nimrod jailed Avram for ten years.
A Clear & Present DangerWell here we are, many years later and in Israel, facing a similar situation, not by accident or via malfunction, as with the Three Mile Island event, but purposefully, with a view to big business self-aggrandizement and with malice aforethought.
<i>Va'etchanan</i>: Between Hopelessness & <i>Ge'ula</I>The <i>Haftarah</i> for our <i>parsha</i> begins, <i>"Nachamu, Nachamu Ami yomar Elokeichem"</i> ? "Comfort, comfort my people -- says your G-d." (Yishaiya, 40:1) This sentiment seems to be silent, but yet it is a theme of <i>parshat Va'etchanan</i>.
Roadmaps, Jonathan Pollard and <i>Dayenu</i>A couple of <i>Shabbosim</i> ago, as the War with Iraq began, our rabbi in Ramat Beit Shemesh addressed the <i>Kehillah</i> regarding the war, gas masks and <i>Shabbos</i>. He held that recent articles state that even if chemical or biological weapon-tipped Scuds were to fall on a location here, the chances of it affecting people some distance beyond the point of impact were nil. The rabbi conti
<i>Pekudei</i>: Unity, Responsibility & RectificationWe must strive to perfect our observance of <i>Shabbat</i>, as well as doing other <i>mitzvot</I> - <i>Gemilut Chasadim</i>, <i>Tzedakah</I> - having <i>Ahavat Chinom</i> for our fellow Jews on all levels, personal, business, learning, etc. If we will all intensify our path of plain old honesty ? treating others as we would want to be treated ourselves and beautify our <i>mitzvot</i>, then we'll b