Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin

<I>Ekev</I>: The Majestic Grace After Meals

Study this prayer-blessing in depth., 8/2/2007, 1:05 PM

<I>Va'etchanan</I>: What Does it Mean to Fear G-d?

Fear of G-d has the power to truly make one free., 7/27/2007, 12:50 AM

<I>Matot-Masei</I>: The Exile's Good Grazing Land

Gad and Reuven had forgotten their history., 7/11/2007, 6:50 PM

<I>Balak</i>: Standing Up, Alone

The reason for our miraculous survival., 6/29/2007, 12:13 PM

<i>Naso</I>: The Universal 10 Commandments

Who is the Torah's target audience?, 5/24/2007, 10:00 PM

Shavuot: Reading the Scrolls

How the Hebrew calendar educates us. , 5/21/2007, 10:48 PM

<I>Kedoshim</I>: Law-Observing Scoundrels

Is Halacha a maximum or a minimum requirement?, 4/26/2007, 2:05 PM

<I>Shemini</I>: No 'Strange Fire' at Havdalah

The "eighth day" is fraught with significance., 4/12/2007, 11:07 PM

<I>Shabbat HaGadol</i>: Elijah's Faulty Faith

Elijah will attend every Passover Seder., 3/28/2007, 3:55 PM

<I>Vayikra</I>: When a Leader Sins

No one is above repentance. , 3/23/2007, 1:49 AM

<i>Vayak'hel-Pekudei</I>: A Faithful Repetition

Moses gives an accounting. , 3/16/2007, 1:56 AM

<I>Tetzaveh</i> and Purim: Dressing Up

Why such significance attached to external garb? , 3/2/2007, 2:47 AM

<i>Beshalach</I>: Finding Your <I>Bashert</I>

Our sages teach us, "It is more difficult for the Almighty to bring two individuals together in marriage than it was for Him to split the Reed Sea." In what way is there any logical comparison between the splitting of the Reed Sea and the making of a <I>shidduch</I>?, 2/1/2007, 1:59 AM

Parshat Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16)

Can we honestly say that the Israelites conducted themselves properly, with true honesty and integrity? Were they too not guilty of acts of duplicity, disingenuousness and exploitation? What adds insult to injury is that the source of this three day "sleight of tongue" deception is none other than the G-d of Israel, the Compassionate Lord of Truth., 1/24/2007, 6:06 PM

<I>Shemot</I>: Civil Disobedience in the Torah

When, if ever, does individual conscience override governmental authority? Will anarchy not reign supreme, and central governmental authority fall by the wayside, if every soldier of the IDF decides which orders are proper for him to carry out and when the authority of his Talmudic academy overrides the authority of his army commander?, 1/11/2007, 3:31 PM

<i>Vayechi</I>: Our Grandfather's Blessing

Every Friday evening, traditional Jewish parents bless their male children (and often grand-children), "May the Almighty make you like Efraim and Menashe," and their female children, "May the Almighty make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah." Why not bestow the blessing of the three Patriarchs upon our male children?, 1/5/2007, 10:16 AM

<I>Miketz</I>, Light and Chanukah

The sainted Rabbi Elijah of Vilna (of the 18th century), known as the Vilna <I>Gaon</I>, notes that if one counts from the very first word of the Bible, <I>Bereishit</I> ("In the beginning"), the twenty-fifth word is <I>ohr</I>, "light," as in the verse, "and the Almighty declared 'Let there be light' (Genesis 1:3).", 12/20/2006, 2:05 PM

<I>Vayeshev</I> and Hanukkah

The special religious relationship between father and son is most poignantly expressed by a famous Talmudic commentary on a critical moment in the life of Joseph in Egypt, described in this week's Biblical reading., 12/14/2006, 10:46 PM

<I>Vayishlach</I>: Jacob Returns to Isaac

If his misguided paternal favoritism allows him to forgive the transgression of Reuven, ought not Isaac's misguided paternal favoritism of Esau allow him - Jacob - to be forgiven of his transgression towards his father Isaac?, 12/8/2006, 10:20 AM

<I>Vayetze</I>: A Mistaken Vow

What point is there to the Bible's recording the time lag between the dream and the vow? And finally, does G-d not promise Jacob in his dream whatever he later asks for in his vow, that He will watch over him wherever he goes, return him to this land, and not forsake him (Gen 28:15)? Why does Jacob require the vow altogether?, 11/29/2006, 11:14 PM

<i>Toldot</I>: Jacob's Self-Deception

Jacob is described in the opening of our Biblical portion as "a whole-hearted (the Hebrew <I>tam</I> also means naive) person, a (studious) dweller in tents." (Genesis 25:27) How can such a disingenuous personality declare to his old blind father, "I am Esau, your first-born son" - and for what appears to be in order to gain material blessings?, 11/22/2006, 4:10 PM

<I>Chayei Sarah</I>: Sarah's Greater Understanding

What was Sarah doing in Hebron? Abraham, Sarah and Isaac had been living in Be'er Sheba, where the patriarch had made a treaty with Avimelekh, king of the Philistines. , 11/16/2006, 11:46 PM

<I>Vayera</I>: The First Inverted "Marrano"

One of the truly tragic figures of the Bible is Lot, nephew and adopted son of Abraham., 11/9/2006, 11:03 AM

<I>Lech Lecha</I>: Marx, Spinoza, Freud and Abraham

It will be important for us to try to understand why living in Israel should be so central an aspect of our status as the people of the Covenant, but even prior to this is an even more obvious query: Why did G-d choose Abraham?, 11/1/2006, 12:02 PM

<I>Noach</I>: The First Jew

Why was the first Jew Abraham and not Adam; Abraham and not Noah? , 10/26/2006, 3:05 PM

<I>Bereishit</I>: I Speak, Therefore I Am

In the words of the sacred <i>Zohar</i>, cited in the first chapter of the <I>Tanya</I> of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad (Lubavitch) Hassidism, "Anyone who exhales, exhales from the essence of his innermost being.", 10/19/2006, 10:45 PM

Sukkot: The Aravah and the Leviathan

It is especially significant that the aravah - symbolizing the Jew with neither learning nor deeds - is an integral part of the united Jewish people. , 10/10/2006, 12:32 PM

Yom Kippur: Piercing the Veil

We seem to be transported into the eternal world of the historic Jewish community, a world in which we have an opportunity to grasp the hands of those who have come before us and to prepare the way for those who are to come after us., 9/28/2006, 10:49 PM

Rosh HaShanah: Unconditional Love

There are three curious aspects about this period of the Days of Awe that I would like to attempt to analyze., 9/20/2006, 3:12 PM

<I>Nitzavim-Vayelech</I>: The Woodchopper and the Water-Carrier

Why did the master prophet Moses use the expression "from the choppers of wood to the drawers of water"? Perhaps he was utilizing a short-hand method of saying from Abraham, the chopper of wood, to Elijah, the one who drew forth the water., 9/13/2006, 1:53 PM

<I>Ki-Tetzei</I>: The Justice of Interest-Free Loans

Why are you forbidden to charge interest? If you are allowed to charge rent for the use of your apartment, why can you not charge "rent" for the use of your funds?, 9/1/2006, 10:17 AM

<I>Shoftim</I>: Authentic Pluralism

Does Judaism, even Orthodox Judaism, ascribe to pluralism? , 8/25/2006, 12:10 AM

<I>Re'eh</I>: A Singular Plurality

How can we understand our opening verse, in which G-d begins with the singular and continues with the plural? I believe that this unusual grammatical phenomenon speaks to the very definition of this third covenant, known as the covenant of <I>arevut</I> or "mutual responsibility" (Babylonian Talmud, <I>Sotah</I> 33 b)., 8/18/2006, 9:58 AM

<I>Ekev</I>: A Song for the Land of Israel

This week's Biblical portion of <I>Ekev</I> is, in effect, a song of praise to the Land of Israel. , 8/10/2006, 12:26 AM

<i>Vaetchanan</i>: A Universal G-d

Two of the most famous passages in the entire Bible referring to G-d are: "I am the Lord your G-d who took you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage," the first of the Ten Commandments, and "Hear O Israel the Lord our G-d the Lord is one," the opening verse of the <i>Shema</i>, the watchword of our faith., 8/4/2006, 3:09 AM

<I>Matot-Masei</I>: Judging By Appearances

Apparently, the Bible thinks it important that the tribes of Gad and of Reuven not only do what is right, but also appear to do what is right., 7/20/2006, 2:11 AM

<I>Pinchas</I>: Jewish Power, Jewish Influence

In this <i>parasha</I>, we see the ?passing of the guard,? the succession of leadership from Moses to Joshua. Embedded within the three different actions G-d commanded Moses to perform, we may begin to define three different forms of traditional Jewish leadership., 7/13/2006, 11:27 AM

<I>Balak</I>: Mysterious and Miraculous Survival

The very secret of our national eternity is magnificently expressed in a section of the second chapter of the <I>Ethics of the Fathers</I>., 7/7/2006, 2:24 AM

The Shavuot Jew

Is the Shavuot Jew superior to the Passover Jew? , 5/31/2006, 11:00 AM

<I>Behar-Bechukotai</I>: Slavery and Indentured Servitude

If indeed Judaism gave the world the idea and the ideal of freedom - "I am the Lord thy G-d who took thee out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage" - how can we justify the fact that our Bible accepts the institution of slavery and even legislates proper and improper treatment of slaves?, 5/18/2006, 12:57 AM

The First Flowering of Redemption

We must remain eternally grateful for the initial signs of freedom and the Divine promise that we will ultimately attain it - witness our Passover celebration; and we must even take heed of, and even celebrate, our days of preparation for the eventual redemption, and attempt to purify ourselves for that eventuality religiously and politically., 4/30/2006, 2:00 PM

<I>Shemini</I>: Fire-Water

The <I>midrash</I> is teaching that Nadav and Avihu were given this capital punishment because they had brought a fire unto G-d that had not been commanded while having become intoxicated with wine., 4/21/2006, 12:24 AM

Redemption and Optimism

The Talmud at the conclusion of the Tractate <I>Makkot</I> records how five rabbis, almost the very same five mentioned in the Hagaddah, passed by the Temple Mount after the destruction and saw foxes emerging from the ruined Holy of Holies. Four rabbis wept and Rabbi Akiva laughed. , 4/18/2006, 1:04 AM

Searching for the Wicked Child

Let us explore the question and answer which the author of the <I>Haggadah</I> ascribes to the "wicked child"., 4/6/2006, 3:03 PM

<I>Vayak'hel-Pekudei</I>: Cherubic Love, Marriage and Sex

What was the symbolism behind the cherubs? The sages of the Talmud gave an interpretation fraught with significance regarding the rabbinic attitude towards marriage and sex, an attitude which is especially crucial for our Age of the Internet., 3/24/2006, 1:33 AM

<I>Ki Tisa</I>: The Hidden Face of G-d

The joys (and hang overs) of Purim are still lingering in the air, and the Biblical portion of <I>Ki Tisa</I> arrives to teach us the secret to the most agonizing question of the religionist, the origin of one of the most important lessons of Jewish theology: Why is the Divine face so often hidden from our sights?, 3/17/2006, 12:57 AM

<I>Tetzaveh</I>: Carrying the Children of Israel

I would like to analyze the precise placement of the names of the tribes of Israel, which appear in two separate vestments of the High Priest., 3/10/2006, 2:11 AM

<I>Beshalach</I> and Tu BeShevat

This week's Torah portion, also known as the Sabbath of Song since it features the song of the Israelites at the Splitting of the Reed Sea, always falls very close to the semi-festival of Tu BeShevat, known as the New Year for Trees (<I>Mishnah, Rosh Hashanah</I> 1:1)., 2/9/2006, 1:43 AM

<I>Vaera</I>: Grandfather's Words

It is fascinating how both the Bible and the Talmud emphasize the third generation, the relationship between grandparent and grandchild. The fact is that Abraham is the first Jew - not Adam and not Noah - because Abraham communicated G-d's teaching to three generations. , 1/25/2006, 1:37 AM

<I> Sh'mot</I>: A Model for Moses

Who was the real model for Moses, the great liberator of his people who waged a successful revolution against one of the mightiest autocrats in history, Pharaoh, king of Egypt?, 1/20/2006, 2:06 AM