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Sunday, December 16, 2018

Divrei Torah

Lying and Deception in the Torah

Throughout Bereishit, we are intrigued by various stories of lies and deception. Many of these stories involve our revered patriarchs and matriarchs. What do we make of these stories? What sort of life lessons are we and our children being taught?

For example, we read that Avraham deceives both

Vayeitzei: Unblocking Our Prayers

When you’re a father in a house mostly filled with girls, you put on the fixer-man hat quite often. Last week I was Baruch the Plumber, sent to unclog a sink drain full of hair. I rolled up my sleeves, gathered my strength, and went into the bathroom with my trusty snake to clear that drain. Baruch Hashem, I emerged

Toldot: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Avimelech

Many dramatic and heroic personalities dominate the stories of Bereishit. Parshat Toldot showcases a secondary character known as Avimelech, the king of the sea-faring Plishtim. His first impressions are encouraging as he is remorseful and contrite in response to Avraham’s harsh rebuke. Unlike Pharaoh in Egypt who retaliated by

Chayei Sarah: The Road to Developing Character

When visiting friends, I remarked that their main floor looked like it had quite a makeover. The wife laughed, saying there was a funny story behind it. “Our living room carpet was old and worn so we took the plunge and chose a replacement for $3,000. Then I realized the paint in the room wouldn’t match and was 15 years old, so

Hashem Give Strength to Your Nation; Hashem Bless Your Nation With Peace

As many of you know, I almost never write up my sermons. This week a number of people asked for my remarks, so this is an attempt at reconstruction:

It is forbidden to weep on Shabbos. I told  myself I wouldn’t cry this morning while speaking. But the Rama teaches that there is an exception:

וכן מי שיש לו עונג אם יבכה

B’Damayich Chayi: Responding to the Tree of Life Massacre in Pittsburgh

Va-yidom Aharon.

And Aharon was silent.

The halachic attitude to tragedy has been characterized by Aharon’s paradigmatic response to the unfathomable death of his two sons on what should have been a day of unmitigated joy, as the Mishkan was inaugurated. We

Parshat Toldot: A Yiddishe Mama

So now, my son, heed my voice and arise; flee to my brother Lavan, to Charan (Bereishit 27:43).

Unlike Pharaoh, who declared death upon Jewish boys, Lavan attempted to destroy the entire house of Yaakov (Haggadah Shel Pesach). And yet Rivka, who loved her son Yaakov, sent him to

Every Shul Should Have An Armed Person: A Halachic Analysis

(reprinted from theyeshivaworld.com)

The horrific tragedy in a Conservative synagogue in Pennsylvania Shabbos morning that left 11 people dead should cause us, perhaps, to rethink the manner in which we observe a certain halacha. It is not that

Israel and Parshat Lech Lecha: Tiyulim in Israel

A popular hobby in Israel—one that bridges many different societal sectors—is a hike through the land, otherwise known as a “tiyul.” Often, a tiyul provides fun or adventurous trekking, and sometimes—depending upon the season—a tiyul may even conclude with a refreshing river waterfall or natural pool of water. Still

The Sights of Summer

With the summer season now firmly in the rearview mirror, it is a good time to think back on all we have done over the past several months. Perhaps we recall the joy we experienced when we watched our children or grandchildren frolicking in the pool on a sweltering summer day. Maybe we recollect the breathtaking sunset we

Settling Halfway

Have you ever made up your mind to start a project, turn over a new leaf or make this the year that you really mean to change your life? How many New Year’s resolutions are made in earnest but are never fully fulfilled? We all know personal examples of people who have planned aliyah to Israel for years, for example, but were

Lech Lecha: Accepting Hashem’s Majesty

Titles and introductions mean a lot. About a year ago I went to the Friday night shalom zachor of the grandson of one of our popular elected officials. Of course there were many people there that night, and the atmosphere was festive. When the host saw me, he gave me a very warm greeting and led me to sit next to a distinguished