Friday, April 20, 2018

Divrei Torah

What Is So Great About the Great Shabbos?

Why do we call this Shabbos “Shabbos Hagadol,” the great Shabbos? What is so great about it? What is the connection with the upcoming holiday of Pesach it precedes?

The most popular explanation is that the Jews tied up lambs, which were considered to be Egyptian gods, for the Passover

What Is Belief?

I. Belief and Knowledge

Pesach is often called Chag HaEmunah, the holiday of faith or, more accurately, belief. But what is belief and how do we acquire it? A better understanding of belief can help us recognize its role in today’s complex world. Our starting point is a debate among Arabic

Was the Original Shabbat Hagadol Successful?

Shabbat Hagadol commemorates the Shabbat prior to the actual Exodus from Egypt, which occurred on a Thursday. That year Shabbat fell on the 10th of Nissan, which was the day the Jews launched the Korban Pesach process by purchasing the lambs. This simple purchase actually was a defiant act of rebelliousness since the Egyptians

Parshas HaChodesh: Consecrating Our Time

America has lots of expressions involving time. Time is money—Time flies—Ahead of his time—Killing time. Time is a concept that preoccupies us a lot! Since I broke my foot a couple of months ago, I find myself …well … more “pressed for time.” Just getting dressed and getting ready in the morning takes an additional 20

Thinking Community

One of the most transformative korbanot is a chatat, offered in response to negligent shogeg commission of sin. It offers an opportunity for soul-searching, teshuva and catharsis. If the majority of the nation commits a sin based on an inaccurate verdict of the central Sanhedrin, a unique chatat is delivered. This korban, known as

What Is Freedom?

I. Freedom of the Will

Pesach is the holiday of freedom, when God redeemed us from slavery. But has that freedom continued with us, even after we subsequently were oppressed and enslaved? The answer goes to the very nature of freedom in the modern world and in contemporary insular Jewish

Achashverosh Syndrome

The book of Tanach is defined by “causality.” Mitzvah performance yields a life of welfare and blessing, while religiously errant behavior is punishable by removal of Divine presence and relocation from the Land of Israel—galut. When this causality is absent and the innocent suffer, moral questions arise. Avraham challenges

Temporary Permanence

Parshat Terumah introduces the ambitious project of constructing an edifice to house the presence of God. It is a one-time feat of human craftsmanship and artistry matching the majesty of the Shechina. The activities necessary for construction of the Mishkan are designated as ultimate forms of “creative acts.” Thirty-nine of

Jewish Laws and Customs Surrounding the Bar Mitzvah

Our son, Nissim Shalom, has recently became a bar mitzvah, and it is a living reminder for us of our family’s remarkable and ancient history.

According to Jewish law, a Jewish boy reaching the age of 13 becomes a bar mitzvah and is responsible for assuming the mitzvot of Jewish adulthood. (A

Freedom Is a State of Mind

Parshat Mishpatim begins by discussing the laws of a Hebrew slave. At the end of six years he has the opportunity to go free. However, if he declines his freedom and chooses to remain with his master he has his ear pierced and stays with his master, his wife and children until the Jubilee year. The Gemara (Kiddushin 22b) explains

Fiery Women: Keepers of the Faith

In Parshat Beshalach we read that Miriam, the prophetess, led the women in song and dance after the defeat of the Egyptian army. They had all prepared timbrels and drums to accompany their song. In a parallel story from the haftarah we read that Devorah, the prophetess, was a “fiery woman” who also commanded General Barak in

Beshalach:  The Long Road Home

Place yourself in the shoes of one of your ancestors on the day we were freed from slavery in Egypt. After hundreds of years of bondage, you have seen God punish your oppressors with 10 miraculous plagues, completely destroying their once-great civilization. Moshe has said that God is leading you on a three-day journey to Israel,