Mother Scolding Daughter

Parshat Devarim: The Art of Rebuke

Criticism and rebuke have always been part of the Jewish way of life. This was true in the days of the prophets and it continues to be a part of our modern discourse. But it may be surprising to discover that according to the Torah, rebuke is actually seen as a way of preventing or […]

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High priest

Parshat Masei: The Blood of the High Priest

Murder is without question the ultimate form of evil. When confronted with cold blooded killing we are seized by fury and we expect to see justice done and the culprit punished as befits him. But when someone accidentally kills someone else, through no real fault of his own, sometimes instead of anger we are wont […]

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Paratrooper and Prayer For Soldiers

Yeshiva Students, the Army, and Spinoza’s Sub Specie Aeternitatis

Whenever I think of the huge demonstration of Chareidi yeshiva students earlier this year, I think of Gateshead Yeshiva in England where I spent many years studying Talmud. It is Europe’s most famous yeshiva and a bastion of Torah study in the Chareidi world. Paradoxically, I also think of Spinoza’s incomparable masterpiece, the Ethics, written […]

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Running Crazy

Parshat Pinchas: The Secret to Success

Rabbe Akiva famously declared that “Love you neighbor as yourself” (Vayikra 19:18) is a key principle in the Torah (Sifra Kedoshim 2:4). But Rabbi Shimon Ben Pazi less famously posits that the foundation of the Torah can be found in our parsha in the verse about the korban tamid, the daily offering, “the first lamb […]

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Nations of the World

Parshat Balak: That Dwells Alone a Nation

A Nation Separate and Connected They are a nation that dwells alone and amongst the nations they do not reckon (Bamidbar 23:9). To many, Bilam’s words define an essential quality of the Jewish people — they are alone and separate from the other nations of the world. At first glance it appears that Israel’s relationship […]

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Israel Mourning 3 Sons

Unanswered Prayers…

In these very sad and difficult moments, I wish to share with you something I wrote in the past, which unfortunately became so relevant now, when Hashem said “no” to our prayers.   Rabbi Ronen Neuwirth “Avraham instituted the morning tefillah, as it says: “וישכם אברהם בבקר אל המקום אשר עמד שם” – And Avraham […]

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Moses and Rod

Parshat Chukat: Carry a Big Stick but Speak Softly

Moshe’s Sin At long last, the ordeal is drawing to a close. The forty-year decree of wandering in the desert is almost over. One can imagine Moshe’s excitement as the journey of decades approaches its conclusion; one can almost taste the milk and honey… But Moshe’s dream vanishes once again, this time for good. Parshat […]

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Red Heifer

Parshat Chukat: Sometimes There Are No Answers

Parshat Chukat opens up with the laws pertaining to the Red Heifer, generally considered one of the most obtuse segments in the entire Torah. It is considered the quintessential “chok’, or law not given over to human comprehension, since it contains internal contradictions: the heifer whose ashes purify a person from the most serious form […]

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Mr Bigshot

Parshat Korach: Not for the Sake of Heaven

Everybody knows that Korach’s strife was bad news for Am Yisrael, but we would be wrong to conclude from the events of our parsha that argument is something to be avoided. In the famous mishna in Pirkei Avot, Korach and his men are the prototype of negative debate, but that same mishna points out positive […]

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3 Kidnapped Boys

Responding to the Abduction of our Sons: A Call to Action for All of the Jewish People

Unfortunately, we have become far-too knowledgeable in Israel about terrorist attacks and kidnappings. Every occasion is shocking, painful and heartbreaking. Yet oftentimes, they take place in some other part of the country, providing a false sense of safety and distance. This time, however, it has happened right in front of us, affecting us very differently. […]

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All Blue Tallit

Parshat Korach: A Tallit That is All Techelet

“What is written immediately before the incident of Korach and his followers?  ‘Speak to the children of Israel and tell them to make Tzitzit’ (ritual fringes required on the corners of a 4-cornered male garment.)  Korach interrupted and confronted Moshe, as follows: “You told us to dye one string of each of the tzitzit with […]

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