New ideas in the festivalsIf one would briefly analyze the festivals, it would become abundantly clear that each one is “built” around a specific theme of the Divine relationship with the Jewish people.
Balak (Diaspora): No one is perfectThe Torah does not hide the faults of our founders. The notion of applying superhuman qualities to a human being is not a Jewish idea.
Behaalotcha (Diaspora): The mysterious sinWhat is the sin that is not elucidated?
Bechukotai (Israel):Following the formulaTo learn about the punishments stated in the parsha is to gain insights into ourselves as a nation, and to ensure our relationship with God remains strong.
Parshat Kedoshim: Yes, it is harmful!If someone seeks out the concepts of idolatry solely for a greater understanding of this area, he is giving value to that which by definition cannot be of any worth at all.
Looking back at the Seder: Hallel HagadolTake the time to respond.
The Purim story is not just the good guys against the bad guysWe can plan all we want, but we can never have complete knowledge of the world of cause and effect.
The Mishkan of EdutThe Midrash helps us understand the concept of "edut".
Ki Tisa: Unfolding tragedyThe sin of the Golden Calf was without question one of the darkest moments in the history of the Jewish people.
Mishpatim: Breaches in chronologyThe Torah is not a history book, but one can learn from everything in it, even its order.
Yitro: What was it like at Sinai?The commentators try to explain the experience of Sinai.
Vaera: Pharaoh’s last chancePharaoh acts against all reason.
G-d of the HebrewsMoses and Aaron talked theology with Pharaoh.
Vayigash: Understanding your adversaryAn analysis of Judah's leadership.
A tale of two namesWhy did Jacob call his son by a name different from the one given by his dying wife Rachel?
Esau's AdieuWas Esau somewhat delusional in marrying the daughter of Ishmael?
Rebuke in the parsha and in our livesAvraham admonishes Avimelech on two planes and gives us a lesson in personal relationships.
The Many Faces of CourageWe have seen those faces this week.
Why Shmini AtzeretLet us not let Simchat Torah overshadow this holiday.
Ki Tavo: The Milestone of Turning FortyDisclaimer – this author turned forty this past summer, but you must believe he is being objective.
Shoftim: The Quest for SecurityA perfect example of idolatry.
Eichah- The Sodom ComparisonHow was our fate worse than that of Sodom?
Elijah and Moses: The Traits of LeadershipA leader may not necessarily have the right personality traits for the nation or for the individual. He may need to realize he is not the right person for the job.
Chukat: Well-Deserved PraiseTwo wells, several meanings.
A Kohen's View of KehunaAnalysis of the distinct privileges and responsibilities of being a kohen.
How Far Does the Exodus Story Go?Why does the Haggada jump from one theme to the next?
The Limitations in Knowing YourselfThere is a limitation in our knowledge of the self, and that only God has complete knowledge.
Negotiations Done in Bad FaithAbraham vs. Ephron the Hittite.
Haman Seeks AdviceFrom Bad Advice to Wise Insights.
Parshat Shkalim and Yehoash’s Fund Raising CampaignParshat Shkalim, about Temple funds, is read at the end of the regular Torah reading, the first of four special readings that begin with this Shabbat. The haftarah shows the importance of the way the Jewish people relate to the Temple.
Parshat Bo: No Room for DoubtThree events show God’s Justice and God as the Creator, the two main avenues of God’s relationship to the universe.
"How Many are the Days of the Years of Your Life?"What did Jacob's answer to Pharaoh intend to convey?
The Al Hanisim Prayer II: Well PlannedIn describing the Hellenic planning, the word “amda” is used. The same word is used when describing God’s intervention. Why would the Sages use the same word in describing each?
MachanaimMachane is a camp; machanaim, two camps. Jacob was part of both.
The Olive BranchThe debate within the Midrash on the source of the olive branch concerns the two potential changes that could have emerged from the remains of the generation of the flood.
Holiday Reading: The Supremacy of the Blessing of AsherEach blessing given to each tribe had two features to it.
"Hayom harat olam" - Happy Birthday World!A short prayer that contains the essence of our relationship with G-d.
Ki Tavo: Before Jumping In…Olam Haba is good, but learning Torah is better, says an old Yiddish song.
Re'eh: Blueprint for PerfectionThe commentator Rabbeinu Bachaye provides a blueprint for life.
Eikev: What Makes Israel Better?"The land where you are crossing to inherit is a land of mountains and plains--- by the rain of the skies will you drink water".
Paradise FoundOur attitude towards the physical world is what will ultimately determine if it is to aid man or destroy him.
Pour out Your Wrath Upon the Nations...Why vengeance and wrath at the Seder?
Parshat Hachodesh: Time is of the EssenceThis Sabbath, the one preceding the new month of Nissan, at the end of the Torah portion, we read Parshat Hachodesh telling of the sanctification of the month of Nissan. It was their first commandment as a people.