Saturday, January 19, 2019

Divrei Torah

Count Everyone; Everyone Counts

This week’s parsha of Bamidbar starts with a common mistranslation offered by Artscroll and others. In Chapter 1, verse 2, God commands Moshe, “Se’u et rosh kol adat Bnei Yisrael.” It is commonly translated as “Take a census of the entire Jewish people.” However, those who know Hebrew can tell you that

Rabbi, Can I Take Out My Phone for a Minute?

In addition to my work at Congregation Shomrei Torah, I had the privilege of being a middle school rebbe for several years. One day, in the middle of March, I took my students out for recess and it started to snow. The policy of the school is to not allow students to take their phones out during the day.

Shavuos: Being a True Representative of Hashem

A good friend of mine, Dovid, flies weekly from Newark to Rochester, New York, for business. The Rochester airport is quite small and the staff all know him. Frequent flyers like Dovid know that delays are part of the deal, so he always brings pastries to give to staff whenever there’s a delay. Why this gesture? He said simply,

When Did We Really Receive the Torah?

Although Shavuos is a biblical holiday, it is never described as “Zman Matan Toraseinu” in the Torah. And there have been some very good suggestions made as to why the association between the giving of the Torah and the holiday of Shavuos is only made in (later) rabbinic literature, despite the date of public revelation, when

The Walls That Protect Us

Our attention was recently focused once again toward the State of Israel, not only due to the 51st anniversary of Yom Yerushalayim or even due to the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Instead, we witnessed an array of rocket activity as tensions escalated between Israel and Iranian forces located in Syria in the aftermath of

Shmita: Learning Reliance on Hashem


When I was a teenager learning in Eretz Yisrael, I returned to America in the summer to earn money for the following year in yeshiva. One summer I was working as an intern for an investor on Wall Street. The salary was quite good, but it was not enough to cover all my expenses

Shavuot: A Day With No Ritual

Soon the holiday of Shavuot will arrive, a time known for when God delivered the Torah to the Jews at Mount Sinai. There is a fundamental question that must be asked about this holiday that can shed light on the document of the Torah to which most religions are founded upon.

The question is as

What Does Shmita Have to Do With Har Sinai?

The first Rashi in our parsha is fairly famous, as his question (quoting the Sifra) of “what connection does Shmita have with Har Sinai?” has become part of the vernacular in frum circles, meaning “what does one thing have to do with another?” Yet, since the very next line is “weren’t all the commandments said at

Parshas Emor: Putting on the Proper Face

Young children enjoy standing in front of mirrors and making funny faces. Why? Because the funny expressions stare right back at them! On a deeper level, a person’s facial expression speaks volumes about his or her life. And it’s fascinating that the Torah uses the word “faces” to describe the show bread—Lechem

Motorcycling and the God of Second Chances

Several weeks ago, I took delivery of my new Honda Goldwing motorcycle in Tennessee. I drove it 750 miles to Florida where I enjoyed it over Pesach. This touring bike had all the latest technology, including a GPS system displayed on the dashboard. While driving down the highway I noted two things about the GPS system. First, as

Community Service Is Not a Choice; It’s an Obligation

The Torah in Parshat Acharei Mot (Leviticus 16:1) details the avoda the kohen gadol performs on Yom Kippur. This step-by-step process is further illuminated in the Yom Kippur Musaf liturgy. Among many other things, the high priest prays for forgiveness: first for himself, then his family and then for all of Israel—V’chiper

Some Reflections on the Beginning of Year 71

Around my Shabbat table I like to ask thought-provoking questions that elicit discussion. The questions usually center around the parsha or around values. For example, I like to ask, “If you were given $100 million to fund just one Jewish cause, what would it be?” These discussions are fascinating and insightful. In the future,