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Rabbi Lazer Gurkow

News and updates about Rabbi Lazer Gurkow

Emor (Diaspora): The shame culture

The USA used to be a guilt culture but has skewed toward a shame culture with no forgiveness. Judaism is a guilt culture. Hence Yom Kippur.

Emor (Diaspora): The shame culture

Kedoshim (Diaspora) : Elon Musk and hateful speech

You are only hateful when you speak hatefully about another. You are not hateful when you espouse an opinion.

Kedoshim (Diaspora): Elon Musk and hateful speech

Acharei Mot (Diaspora): Why we are needed

We often ask for the things we need, but life is much happier, satisfying, and meaningful, when we ask what we are needed for.

Acharei Mot (Diaspora): Why we are needed

An educational Passover Seder: Four problems Four solutions

What is this obsession with the number four at the Seder? It tells you how to deal with yourself and others.

An educational Passover Seder: Four problems Four solutions

Metzora: Will Smith

What is the worst part of this tale, that it happened or that we have talked so much about it?

Metzora: Will Smith

Parashat Hachodesh: When will Mashiach come?

There are two ways to achieve emotional growth, the Tishrei or the Nisan mode. See the Chatam Sofer on this..Which will bring Mashiach?

Parashat Hachodesh: When will Mashiach come?

The boring moments in the Megillah narrative

The stage is set for the thrills by the boring moments that precede them and that is the lesson of Purim.

The boring moments in the Megillah narrative

Do it with heart

Vayikra begins by showing us that God speaks to Moshe only in the merit of the people. That is each of us..

Do it with heart

Pekudei: Your Temple

Your heart can be your temple, your brain can be your temple, your energy can be your temple, and your home can be your temple.

Pekudei: Your Temple

G-d needs two kinds of meat in this world.

PIgs serve G-d just as cows do. Why is one kosher and the other treiif?

G-d needs two kinds of meat in this world.

Tetzave: Desperate for Mashiach

Only today, in an age of unprecedented bounty, longevity, and progress, can we aspire for Mashiach for the right reasons.

Tetzave: Desperate for Mashiach

The Recipient or the Giver - who is more important?

It is not enough to be a giving spouse; Be an attentive one. It is not enough that your children love you, Let them know you love them.

The Recipient or the Giver - who is more important?

Mishpatim: The little guy

The Chasidic masters would often remind us that we are each critical to G-d.

Mishpatim: Feeling like the little guy

Yitro: One Heart

One people one heart, or one heart one people? They are not the same but we do not have to be the same to be one people with one heart..

Yitro: One Heart

Can we question G-d?

Many have questioned G-d, especially after the Holocaust, but to what avail?

Can we question G-d?

Vaera: Realize your worst fears

There is another, and much more profound, meaning to the words 'realize your worst fears' than the obvious one.

Vaera: Realize your worst fears

Shemot: Just ask

It took the lack of change after Pharaoh's death to dash Jewish hopes and cause them to ask for freedom.

Shemot: Just ask

Ephraim first

Who should our children learn about first, Moses or Shakespeare, the bible or art, Talmud or science?

Ephraim first

The dreidel and the gragger - two toys that pack a message.

The dreidel is spun by twirling the stem at the top. The gragger is rotated by swinging the stem at the bottom. That is not due to chance.

The dreidel and the gragger - two toys that pack a message

To find our calling is the hallmark of life

Life isn’t a generic formula that can be applied to everyone equally.

To find our calling is the hallmark of life

The white beard

he beard is the only hair that grows vertically from above to below, which represents the flow of Divine energy into the world.

The white beard

Too Perfect?

I know of at least one person who worried about being too perfect. Our collective grandfather, Abraham.

Too Perfect?

Go, go, and keep going - you can be anything you want to be

G-d did not tell Abraham to "depart". He said "go". What message was G-d sending?

Go, go, and keep going - you can be anything you want to be

No more, no less: A powerful story

The first letter of the Torah is bet, the last is lamed. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson spoke of the letters before and after bet and lamed.

No more, no less: A powerful story

Repentance Again? Sukkot is the perfect time to repent

Those who repent out of fear, transform deliberate sins into inadvertent sins.Those who repent out of love, transform them into merits.

Repentance Again? Sukkot is the perfect time to repent

Shabbat TeShuvah: Jewish guilt

Sin is never as tantalizing after the fact as it is before the fact.

Shabbat TeShuvah: Jewish guilt

Nitzavim: Tears of joy

Tears flow when we experience more than our minds and hearts can bear, whether sadness, bitterness or joy.

Nitzavim: Tears of joy

A license to eat

We have a license to enjoy the resources of the world: We can eat its food, utilize its vast possibilities. But there are several caveats.

A license to eat

Shoftim: How Jews went to war

The Torah exempts three categories of men from going out to a voluntary war. And it explains why.

Shoftim: How Jews went to war

Moments of pivot

The parasha tells us to make a choice between good and evil. The beginning of Elul tells us to reflect on and pivot away from our mistakes .

Moments of pivot

Suffering and exile

Our relief from exile will come either way, the question is what we will have gained from our time in the darkness.

Suffering and exile

'Between the gates'

Being born between the gates empowered Yocheved to feel free. To not allow Egypt to invade her mind, her psyche, her sense of self. And you?

"Between the gates"

Balak: Stolen waters taste sweet

When you have a choice between doing something self-serving and a good deed, it is human nature to salivate over the self-serving deed.

Balak: Stolen waters taste sweet

The Red Heifer: An available tool

Jews were seldom obligated to purify. It was only for those who made pilgrimage and who had become impure since their last pilgrimage.

The Red Heifer:  An available tool

The behavior mirror

An event in the Torah has a deeper layer that holds a moral lesson for all time, found in the teachings of hassidic philosophy.

The behavior mirror

Bamidbar: Israel is on fire

Our enemies use our sacred ground to launch attacks against us and the world does not understand how sacred this mountain is to us.

Bamidbar: Israel is on fire

Fooling yourself

Rabbi Simcha Bunim observed that the Torah tells us not to fool others, but if you are a hassid, you don’t fool yourself either.

Fooling yourself

Groupthink and cancel culture vs. Loving others as you love yourself

Every human was created in G-d’s image. If G-d can’t be canceled, neither can His image.

Groupthink and cancel culture vs. Love others as you do yourself

Tazria Metzora: The pivotal moment

The two ways of reading a word in the parsha - "vehuva" or as our Sages said "vehu va" have a world of meaning.

Tazria Metzora: The pivotal moment

Passover and the Seuda of Mashiach

The Baal Shem Tov: The first days of Pesach celebrate the Exodus but during the last days of Pesach we anticipate the coming of Mashiach.

Passover and the Seuda of Mashiach