Tags

Rabbi Lazer Gurkow

News and updates about Rabbi Lazer Gurkow

Heal our fractured self

When tempted by something forbidden, we lose all reason simply lust after it with all our hearts. We can always control ourselves, but we are not always willing.

Heal our fractured self

Passover and Hamas college takeovers

We are powerful. We are G-d’s children. We can help ourselves. He does not want us to surrender. Remember, we were freed from Egypt.

Passover and Hamas college takeovers

The four answers

The Haggadah presents four questions that are really answers presented in typical Jewish fashion. Jews often answer a question with a question, don't they?

The four answers

Shabbat Hagadol: Miracle of Miracles

If, back in 1967, you tried to convince someone that what happened last Saturday night would happen, you would have been committed to an asylum. But it did.

Shabbat Hagadol: Miracle of Miracles

Tzav: Fighting evil

How do we continue to trust in G-d when He allows us to be rocketed by so much evil and darkness?

Tzav: Fighting evil

A nation united

Because Mordechai gathered all the Jews, the Jewish people were saved. Unity is the key to redemption.

A nation united

If you have skills, use them

Whatever skill we might have, we must ask ourselves, how we can use it for G-d?

If you have skills, use them

Ki Tisa: The real you Is perfect

Our sages taught that when we repent properly, even deliberate sins are turned into merits.

Ki Tisa: The real you Is perfect

Tetzaveh: The Superbowl grind

The Superbowl heroes you watched the other day did it. If they could do it, you are no different; you can do it too. So, what are you waiting for?

Tetzaveh: The Superbowl grind

Terumah: The path to Victory

Make a mikdash in your home; make this a religious war. This is the path to victory.

Terumah: The path to Victory

Mishpatim: Time for Torah

When I study the Torah and come to “know” G-d’s thinking as well as Adam knew Eve, G-d is present in my mind.

Mishpatim: Time for Torah

The light keeper

There is only one source of light. There is no pluralism in the Torah. Our multiple opinions and traditions must align with the single source of the Torah’s light.

The light keeper

Bo: The secret alef

Tthe Hebrew word for Redemption, geulah, and the Hebrew word for exile, golah, are practically the same. The only difference is that geulah is spelled with an alef...

Bo: The secret alef

Vaera: Distance strengthens our bond

A name that we may not write or utter is a name that is beyond human conjecture. To receive a blessing from this name is to receive truly unlimited blessing.

Vaera: Distance strengthens our bond

Shemot: How we survived

We found meaning; that is how we survived.

Shemot: How we survived

A father’s greatest joy

a father’s greatest blessing is the one he receives for his children.

A father’s greatest joy

Do you belong?

On the surface, we are just like our neighbors in the Diaspora. But we are not really the same. We don't belong and they ensure we know it.

Do you belong?

Vayetze: A time of strength, not darkness

A time of war can feel like darkness. But we are not in a place of darkness. We are in a place of strength.

Vayetze: A time of strength, not darkness

Betrayal has made the Jewish core emerge

We were once proud to say, “My best friend is Muslim,” but it turned out that some of them were not really our friends...

Betrayal has made the Jewish core emerge

'Creator of the world, I love you'

Our sages taught that righteous people can transform G-d’s severe judgment into Divine acts of compassion.

'Creator of the world, I love you'

Bereshit: Some tragedies can’t be undone

When G-d begs forgiveness.

Bereshit: Some tragedies can’t be undone

Simchat Torah: When the Torah rejoices

The Torah profits from our joy. As we complete the Torah, the Torah is complete. What can we do to be more complete ourselves?

Simchat Torah: When the Torah rejoices

Yom Kippur: Get your head in the game

Yom Kippur.- It is an immersion that gets your head in the game. And it entails an acknowledgment that our heads were not in the game.

Yom Kippur: Get your head in the game

Nitzavim Vayelach: End of the Hakhel

On this hakhel Shabbat, let’s gather with others in genuine unity and friendship.

Nitzavim Vayelach: End of the Hakhel

Ki Tavo: Two desires

What does it mean, did I not really want what I thought I wanted?

Ki Tavo: Two desires

Shoftim: Saved by the law

With what perspective can judges administer punishment for sins?

Shoftim: Saved by the law

Re'eh: Are we G-d’s children or G-d’s chosen?

G-d calls us His children and His chosen in the same breath. How does that work?

Re'eh: Are we G-d’s children or G-d’s chosen?

Devarim: Full of hot air

What did Moses say that caused our ancestors to change their minds?

Devarim: Full of hot air

The morning after

Admitting that we were wrong and that everything we said about another person sprung from our narcissism or insecurity is embarrassing.

The morning after

Pinchas: Life Is not a game of Chance

On the surface, the Torah appears to play a game of chance in one of the most important decisions our people ever made, dividing the land.

Pinchas: Life Is not a game of Chance

Your list of flaws (Korach-Diaspora)

I challenge you to sit down and list all your strengths and flaws.

Your list of flaws (Korach-Diaspora)

Behaalotcha (Diaspora): Live in the moment

The point is for our thoughts about G-d to take over our minds and lead us in directions we did not anticipate.

Behaalotcha (Diaspora): Live in the moment

Naso (Diaspora): The Kohen's power

When kohanim offer their blessing, they must clear their minds and focus solely on being a channel through whom the blessing flows.

Naso (Diaspora): The Kohen's power

Every Jew is a letter in the Torah

But - we sink or swim together, just as a kosher Torah needs all its letters to be kosher.

Every Jew is a letter in the Torah

Bamidbar: Follow the money

Moses counted the Israelites using the half shekel each had donated. Are the Jews just money?

Bamidbar: Follow the money

Can there be charity without poverty?

How will this mitzva survive if we eradicae poverty?

Can there be charity without poverty?

Every Jew a High Priest - Acharei Mot

Did you know that during the era of the second Temple, all Jews were given a glimpse of the Holy of Holies?.

Every Jew a High Priest - Acharei Mot

I wish I were a simpleton like the one in the Haggadah

The simpleton speaks the truth, but it is a sad truth.

I wish I were a simpleton like the one in the Haggadah

Shabbat Hagadol: In God we trust

The Israelites relied on God, making this a great Shabbat for future generations to remember.

Shabbat Hagadol: In God we trust

G-d Is calling

Life is not about me; life is about a much larger picture. If it were just me—what would it amount to? It is about G-d

G-d Is calling

Pekudei: The entitlement generation

The entitlement generation claims whatever they want as their entitlement. You have money and I don’t, so I am entitled to your money.

Pekudei: The entitlement generation

Tetzaveh: The Gift of a Birthday

Many think of birth as the beginning of our story, but it is not. It is only the beginning of a new chapter—our chapter on earth.

Tetzaveh: The Gift of a Birthday

Are golden cherubs kosher?

If a cherub is okay, why not a golden calf? What is the difference?

Are golden cherubs kosher?

MIshpatim: Why is the world in such a mess?

Why did G-d make a messy world only to dedicate an entire Torah portion to tell us how to clean up the mess?

MIshpatim: Why is the world in such a mess?

Yitro: Torah demands integrity

No ego and no pretentiousness. Ego is an acronym for edging G-d out.

Yitro: Torah demands integrity

The courage to be free

We are beholden only to G-d. Nothing else. No one can take our freedom from us. Only we can take it from ourselves.- and how to avoid that.

The courage to be free

Three sets of ten

We have the ten utterances of creation, the ten plagues, and the ten commandments. Is there a connection?

Three sets of ten

How could Joseph command his father: Come down to me

As viceroy, Joseph could have visited his elderly father, ensured he has ample food. What was the point of telling him to come to Egypt?

How could Joseph command his father:  Come down to me

You are good

Today’s youth have an unquenchable sense of their own value even before accomplishing anything of significance. When did the change occur?

You are good

Vayishlach: G-d Is In our corner

Sometimes it feels as if Murphy’s Law is G-d’s Law. But that's not so.

Vayishlach: G-d Is In our corner

Toldot: Who am I, Jacob or Esau?

The struggle of mankind.

Toldot: Who am I, Jacob or Esau?

Be proud that you are Jewish

In times of despair, when the journey seems endless, Abraham and Sarah showed that we can hold our heads high- and put a mezuza on our door!

Be proud that you are Jewish

The festival of unity

Since last year was a shemitah year, this year is a Hakhel year. Why is Sukkot is a propitious time for it?

The festival of unity

Haazinu: Freedom of thought

Iti's odd to say that separating nations and fixing boundaries to keep them apart is a formula for unity. But unity is precisely that..

Haazinu: Freedom of thought

Shabbat Shuvah: The loving exam

The only way to repent for things we did wrong is to know them first and for this we must make an honest accounting. But don't stop there.

Shabbat Shuvah: The loving exam

Nitzavim:To know or to prove?

When you follow something proven, you have no choice, no freedom; the arguments compel you. When you believe, it is your choice.

Nitzavim:To know or to prove?

This Rosh Hashanah, open up to unity with differences

Most people would say unity without differences is preferable, but Judaism underlines unity with differences.

This Rosh Hashanah, open up to unity with differences

Shoftim: Changing for the better with G-d’s help

We are each expected to exercise judgement and restraint at our six gate points, the eyes, ears, nose and mouth. G-d is with us to help.

Shoftim: Changing for the better with G-d’s help

Elul: A month of refuge

Every Jew has a safe space to which they can retreat. A Rosh Chodesh essay for the month of mercy and forgiveness.

Elul: A month of refuge

Ekev: A life of seasons

There is plenty of room for individual expression in Judaism. Perhaps not in the days of our calendar, but in the choices of life.

Ekev: A life of seasons