Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Divrei Torah

Rendering Judgments and Pictures: Looking Beyond the Surface

Parshat Devarim

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is common wisdom, but the Torah, in this week’s parsha, tells us how to properly judge. The pasuk in Parshat Devarim states, “You shall not favor persons [lit. you shall not recognize a face] in judgment, you shall hear the small just as the

Good Choices, Bad Choices

God writes in His holy Torah, “See I have placed before you today, the life and the good, the death and the evil, good and evil and you should choose life… And you choose life.” (Deuteronomy 30, 15, 19)

Life is full of choices, and the choices we make could either create light or

Coming Full Circle

It was just four days before Pesach when my phone rang. My father was calling to let me know that he and my mom wouldn’t be joining us for Pesach. He said he was having some “circulatory issues” and would be having additional testing during Chol Hamoed. When I pressed about his condition I got no answers, just that the doctor

Breathing Aleph

“Other than the Creator, there is nothing.”—

Yehoshua Bin Nun, Aleinu

Sure, you are huge. I mean, you are 10 billion times larger than a hydrogen atom. You surely have every right to feel in control, never mind super-significant. And,

Matchil BeGenut U’Mesayem BeShevach: It All Goes Back to the Brit

“We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, but Hashem our God took us out from there with a strong hand and outstretched arm. And if the Holy One, blessed be He, hadn’t taken our ancestors out of Egypt, we and our children and grandchildren would still be slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt…”

Parshat Teruma—The Face of the Jewish People

Who would you make “the face of the Jewish people”? Would it be Yaakov Avinu, whose face was engraved on the Throne of Glory? Would it be Moshe Rabbeinu or David Hamelech? Choose as you will, the Gemara (Sukkah 5b) tells us that the face of the keruvim (cherubs) that represented the Jewish people on the covering of the

Parshat Shekalim: A Valuable Foundation

When Hashem told Moshe to collect a machatzit hashekel (a certain coin) from every Jew over the age of 20, He commanded: “Zeh yitnu”—This is what they should give.” Citing the Midrash Tanchuma, Rashi indicates that whenever the Torah says “Zeh—this” it is specifying an area of complexity that can only be

Are You Listening?

A non-religious Jew was involved in a heated conversation with the famous mussar giant known as the Alter of Novardok (1847-1919). They were discussing Torah ideas and the role of Hashem in the world. Two hours into their battle of words, the man ordered his carriage brought to him and then continued speaking with the Alter. The

Sanctifying Hashem in Life

I have a question that you may not have thought of because it appears simple, but as you’ll see the question is more difficult than it looks: What was so difficult about walking into the Yam Suf (the Red Sea), that only Nachshon ben Aminadav chose to do so? Now, I know what you’re waiting to answer: death! No one in his right

Parshat Bo: Know Your Place

As my wife and I passed by the ladies’ shoe department in a large department store, we saw hundreds of pairs of beautifully displayed expensive shoes. Suddenly we came to a jarring sight. An area of shoes all jumbled together on the shelves, others lay strewn all over the floor; shoes of all sizes mixed together: chaos! This was

Parshat Shemot: It’s All in the Name

Our sefer/parsha is known as the Book of Names, on the surface because it deals with names: the shevatim (tribes), Moshe Rabbeinu and Hashem. However, we know that the title of a sefer indicates the essence of that book. So, there must be a great deal of significance to “The Book of Names” that would cause the Torah to assign this title. Why does

Proactive Sensitivity

Imagine the scene: All of Yaakov’s children surrounding the coffin of their beloved father, standing reverently, tearfully, at the entrance to the Mearat HaMachpela…and in the opening to the cave stands Uncle Esav with a big sword in his hand. “Yaakov buried here?” he thunders, “Over my dead body! If I couldn’t have the