Vayechi: A False WorldA litigant once slipped a five coin bribe to the judge during a trial. Trusting that the coins were golden, the judge ruled in the litigant’s favor. Upon leaving the courtroom the judge noticed that the coins we copper. He lifted his eyes heavenward and muttered, O’, what a false world you created.
The Diaspora Mindset and HanukkahDon’t buy into the notion that you can adopt western secular values without diluting your Jewish values. This fence cannot be straddled.
Vayeshev: At HomeWe are in the diaspora for a purpose. To help make these lands a holier and more G-dly place. But that is our job. It’s not our home.
Jacob and Esau: Why We GiveThat there are two basic reasons for offering a gift. One is to help the needy, the other is to gain favor with the wealthy.
Jewish PrideMount Sinai was smaller than all the other mountains.
Pikudei: To Serve HimThis essay is about silver coins because we will reference it twice in this week’s Torah reading.
Golden Calf SyndromeSpend more time with your family. Play more often with your children. Spend more money on gifts. Give more than you take.
The SanctuaryWhy the Replica? Have you ever noticed that we go out of our way to turn the Sanctuary into a replica of the Bet Hamikdash, the ancient temple?
No Break It is only because those years were so good that the suffering that followed was so difficult.
Devarim: Your Dying WordsMoses was wise to wait till the end with his reprimand because a dying person is given more leeway. If a healthy person reprimands it provokes defensiveness and resentment.
Shlach: On the Fringes of ToleranceTruthfully, the only times we can be tolerant is if we are not truly invested in the values or in those who hold them. Tolerance for every possible opinion can only mean that you cherish no opinion as sacred truth.
Acharei Mot: Response to Tragedy When we can no longer be happy, we discover that happiness was never the goal. The goal was greater than us and in that there is meaning, happiness and infinite achievement. In this there is G-d.
Purim: G-d Wants To Be ChosenThe Purim story showed for the first time that when we chose G-d at Sinai, we did it for G-d, not for us. Had it been only for what we got from G-d, we would have abandoned Him at Purim.
Vayigash: Master of SelfThe more powerful your personality, the more difficult it is to overpower yourself. Look at Joseph.
Civilian Casualties: The Ethical DilemmaJacob was concerned about collateral damage. He worried that others might be killed in the heat of battle. He was not worried about harming Esau, who was out to kill him.
Mattot-Masei Lead Us HomeIn Israel I am religiously at home. Everything falls into place. The land itself is holy. Its spirit resonates with mine, its rhythms match my own and its history is my-story. The feelings of a Jew who has yet to make aliyah.
Tazria Metzora: Do We Really Have Free Choice?We are familiar with the famous dictum Ubacharta Bachayim, you shall choose life. The Torah’s use of the word, choose, enshrines the principle of free choice. But many are surprised to learn that this is not always so.
Talking the Talk and Walking the WalkBy rights, words should be valued higher than action.
Yet in this world people don’t take words seriously. If you want to make your feelings real, you have to express them through action. G-d created the world using both.
Vayera: When Weakness is an ObsessionWe lose sight of the forest because we become obsessed with a particular tree. Rather than working for the purpose of supporting our family, work becomes the largest objective of our lives.
Brain DeathTo those who argue that Torah without science is incomplete, the author responds that science without Torah is tragic.