Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Divrei Torah

Korach: Choosing Neighbors in Israel

The Korach insurrection about which we read this week arose from simmering unrest centered in the southern flank of the Jewish desert encampment. The Levite family of Kehat—Korach’s family—resided to the south and this area became “ground zero” for the political discontent. This disgruntlement traveled quickly and

Parshas Korach 5778: Accepting Our Mission

Some names are not high on the list when we have a new baby boy. Korach is one of those names. He instigated a major revolt against Moshe and was later swallowed alive in the abyss. Yet the parsha that bears his name is rather subtle in its introduction, opening with a seemingly small detail: Vayikach Korach—and Korach

Have Faith in Yourself

Have you ever had someone try to take the wind out your sails, telling you, “You are not so special. You are never going to amount to anything. If I were you I would not expect much success”? In effect, that was what Korach, the rebel, tried to say to Moshe. He was envious of his leadership. He did not recognize Moshe’s

The Challenge of Independence

Parshat Shelach: 25 Sivan 5778

I’ve always found it intriguing that the 12 men sent by Moshe to investigate Canaan in Parshat Shelach are never called “meraglim”—spies—in the Torah text, but rather “tarim.” The word “tarim,” or in its infinitive verbal form “latur,” does

Supernatural and Practical

Under normal conditions, the journey from the Sinai Desert to the Land of Israel consumes all of 11 days! The original itinerary comprised a quick passage into Israel with an estimated arrival date of early summer. In quick succession the country would be cleared of paganism and barbarism, the Temple would be erected, Jewish

Shelach: The Power of Peer Pressure

This past Memorial Day I led a group of men from our adult learning center at Yeshiva Ner Boruch, PTI, to a morning of Torah learning in one of the largest yeshivos in the world: Beis Medrash Govoha (BMG) in Lakewood. Our students came from different locations in the tristate area, including Teaneck, Fair Lawn, Passaic, Paramus,

The Emblem of the State of Israel

The parsha details the daily lighting of the menorah in the Mishkan. This description of the menorah is juxtaposed to the inauguration of the Mishkan in the previous parsha. This juxtaposition establishes the menorah as a symbol that launches the period of the Mishkan and potentially the golden era of Jewish history. Sadly, we

Do You Need a Rabbi for a Wedding?

I. What a Rabbi Does

Most of us have been to enough Jewish weddings that we know how they work. We can easily officiate. Even without a big crowd, all a man has to do is give a woman a ring in front of two witnesses and say the “harei at” formula. Who needs a rabbi? If you really want an

Stop Kvetching, Make Coffee

In this week’s parsha of Beha’alotcha, all sorts of complaining takes place. We read that “The people took to complaining...” (11:1). This was not about anything specific, such as running out of food or water. The Ramban suggested that this was just general complaining about the challenges of rough living conditions in the

Chronic Complaining Is Dangerous for Your Health

When I was younger, doctors were just starting to understand the horrible health effects smoking can have on people. This information led to higher taxes, warning labels on cigarette packages and age restrictions on purchasing cigarettes. Through additional studies we learned that smoking is dangerous for anyone who inhales

Parshas Beha’aloscha: Traveling With Hashem

On a quiet summer night I was relaxing on the edge of the water in Tiveria, taking in the air of that uniquely beautiful city. As I gazed across the Kineret, I couldn’t help noticing a boat with bright neon lights and music playing. It was a “party boat” filled with people creating their own hedonistic world, in sharp

The Soul’s Illumination

We all know that in addition to our physical body, we possess a soul—a neshama. But what is a neshama, and is there a concrete way to relate to it?

The ‘Breath’ of God

To begin to understand the neshama, we must look to the Torah’s