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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Divrei Torah

Parshat Vayishlach: The Better Angels

Executive Vice President, Emeritus of the Orthodox Union

Do you believe in angels? Have you ever met one? I do, and I have. Let me tell you about the ones I’ve met.

But first, why do I believe in angels? Well, it is because I believe in the Bible, and the Bible

Parshas Vayetze: Two Meanings of Maturity

How do you define “maturity”? The dictionary definition asserts that it is a state of being full-grown, ripe, or fully developed. But I think that the common man gives a subjective definition to maturity in one of two other ways.

Maturity, depending upon whether one tends to be idealistic or leans

Toldot: Friday Night with Grandpa

Veteran readers of this column are familiar with my paternal grandfather, Chaim Yitzchak Weinreb. He was an old-school Jew, with roots in the region of eastern Poland known as Galicia. He had studied under renowned Talmudists back in the old country, and his fervent wish was to see his grandchildren grow up to be dedicated Talmud

Parshat Chayei Sarah: Mourning Sarah

Grief is the most powerful and most painful of human emotions. Yet, it is an emotion that few human beings can avoid in their lifetime. We all face loss, and we all grieve.

Interestingly, the first death of which we read in detail in the Bible is a murder. And the reaction of the murderer is one of

Psychological Insights from the Torah

Torah wisdom and psychological theory and practice agree that “emunah” is the critical card in building successful relationships. Moreover, the relationship of Adom and Chavah, with Hashem and with one another, establishes a paradigm for all the relationships humankind experiences.

In this

Person in the Parsha, Vayera: Optimism Pays

It may not have been the first day I reported to my new job, but it was not many days later that I first met Richard Hood. I had joined a team of new Ph.D.s, some trained as psychologists and some as educators, whose assignment it was to breathe new life into a very old-fashioned–one might even say backward–school system in suburban

Parshat Lech Lecha

While the words of the Torah itself can be difficult to decipher, it is sometimes an even greater challenge to understand that which is not written at all. Such is the task that faces Biblical commentators in the beginning of Parshat Lech Lecha. The Parsha opens with God’s first commandment to Avram, in which Avram is told to

Easy Spirituality

Executive Vice President Emeritus of the Orthodox Union

The French poet Baudelaire once remarked that the devil’s greatest success is his ability to convince us that he does not exist.

Whereas Judaism does not believe in the devil quite as Baudelaire does, it does

“Place” of Change

Gandhi, the founder of civil disobedience who ultimately led approximately 300 million Indians to freedom in 1947, famously said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Hundreds of books are dedicated to the idea of change and there are just as many written about the difficulty in achieving it.

Of Porgies, Flounder, and the Whale: Yom Kippur

It was a magical summer, the kind that many of us experienced when we were very young and remember fondly for the rest of our lives. I spent that summer, as I did most of my childhood summers, with my family in the Rockaways, a beach resort in the outer borough of Queens, in New York City.

It was a full year before my bar mitzvah, so I was spared the

Reflections on the Shofar

The sound of the shofar is in the air. The Hebrew month of Elul has come, preparing us for Rosh Hashanah. But this Rosh Hashanah, in the year 5775, will be different. This year is a sabbatical year–a Shmita year.

According to Jewish law, every seventh year the land in Israel must remain fallow. Not surprisingly, this law has inspired much

Trauma And Teshuvah

My graduate training in psychology taught me a great deal. But there were major topics that were simply not part of our curriculum. Interestingly, these topics eventually proved essential for me in the performance of my professional duties, both in the field of psychotherapy and in the rabbinate. I must point out that I attended graduate school over 40 years ago and