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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Divrei Torah

On the Shoulders of Giants

“They don’t make them the way they used to.” We have all heard this comment with reference to all sorts of things, usually tools and utensils. Despite all the technological advances from which we benefit, we often are convinced that certain things were of superior quality in the old days. We believe that the old hammer Grandpa once

Hashem’s Repudiation of the Egyptian Deities

With this week’s Parshat Va’eira, the Torah begins to report the 10 plagues that Hashem inflicted on Egypt to convince Pharaoh to release the Israelites from bondage. In Parshat Bo, when Hashem first tells Moshe how He will go about killing the Egyptian first-born in the final and most devastating plague, He adds, “and upon all the

What Is the Meaning of Navi?

This week’s parshah uses the term navi. (See Ex. 7:1). This gives me the opportunity to explore the meaning of this unusual word. In English, the word is usually translated as “prophet,” which has a connotation of someone who is able to predict the future. But what is the root of the Hebrew word navi? And is ability to predict the

Spiritual Time Management

The two old men couldn’t have been more different from each other. Yet, they both taught me the identical life lesson.

The first, a cagey old Irishman, was one of my mentors in the postgraduate psychotherapy training program in which I was enrolled many years ago. He wrote quite a few books in his day,

What Is the Connection Between the Words Lechem (Bread) and Milchama (War)?

At the beginning of this week’s parshah, the word milchama is used. This gives me the opportunity to answer the question that has surely been bothering you since childhood: Is the noun lechem (bread) related to the verb LChM (fight) and its related noun milchama (war)? Undisputedly, all these words have the root

So Who Was the Pharaoh of the Exodus?

In my opinion, it most certainly was NOT Ramesses II, despite what many historians claim.

According to 1 Kings 6:1, Solomon built the Temple in his fourth year. It is now well established that the fourth year of Solomon was 966 BCE (give or take a year or two). 1 Kings 6:1 states very clearly that the

The Yoke’s On Us

We all have received blessings at one time or another. We have certainly received compliments. Over the course of time, we learn that sometimes the compliments are clearly flattering. But occasionally, ambiguous statements are made to us, leaving us confused and unable to determine with certainty whether we are being complimented or

Parshat Vayechi: The Lessons of Shimon and Levi’s Bracha

This Shabbos we conclude the book of Bereishit, which culminates with the resolution of the story of Yosef and his brothers. Four rather involved parshiot deal with this story and its many twists and turns.

Yaakov and his beloved Yosef are reunited after so many years of suffering and uncertainty. Yaakov

Wagons, Calves and Responsibility

I have been blessed with many fine teachers. She was one of the best.

Her name was Mrs. Lachmann. I no longer recall her first name. She taught an advanced course in world literature at the college I attended, and she insisted that we call her Mrs. Lachmann, although, as I later discovered, she had

Extending the Nes of Chanukah to Rosh Chodesh Tevet and Beyond

Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone for the very first time, and then suddenly you see them all over town the next few weeks?

The same thing happened to me over Chanukah this year, except in the realm of Torah!

I was privileged to hear a pre-holiday

The First Job Interview

I have a vivid memory of my first job interview. It was for a position as a counselor in a summer camp. The only preparation that I can now recall took the form of words of encouragement from my mother, of blessed memory. She told me not to be nervous, to be polite, modest, and respectful, and to be sure to be well-groomed and

Man Plans, God Laughs

You thought your life would run smoothly, right? We all do. Then, something comes off, tragic or happy, which proves to us that life is not smooth at all, and probably is not supposed to be.

Somehow, each of us has a personal script which envisions what our lives will be like in the near and even distant