half full or empty glass

Parshat Vayakhel: Half Empty

We all know that one can look at the glass of life as half empty or half full. It all depends on your perspective. One of the keys to living a fulfilled life is to be able to count our blessings, to live with gratitude and appreciation for what we have. We want to see […]

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Man in Desert

Parshat Ki Tisa: Leadership and Followership

The incident of the Golden Calf represents the most significant potential rupture in the new relationship between God and Benei Yisrael. God threatens to destroy the nation, n toto, and begin again with Moshe. The threat is a credible one – on a universal level, that is essentially what God did when Mankind failed Him, […]

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Ark of the Covenant

Parshat Tetzaveh: The Secret of the Mishkan

The Secret of the Mishkan – Revelation, Law and Holiness Parshat Tetzaveh continues the previous Parsha of Teruma in its didactic description of the Mishkan. While Teruma discusses the building and its vessels, Tetzaveh discusses the clothing of the kohanim and the consecration ceremony. However, a number of topics seem out of place. Tetzaveh begins […]

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Israel Flag on Flagpole

Parshat Trumah: True Blue

In the beginning of Parshat Trumah, Shmot Chapter 25, God tells Moshe: “Speak to B’nei Yisrael and have them take for me a trumah (donation) offering: gold, silver and copper, techelet, argaman (purple), tolaat (crimson), fine linen and goats hair, red-dyed ram’s skins, tachish skins and acacia wood, oil for the lamp, spices for anointing […]

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Flying Eagle

Parshat Haazinu: On The Wings of Eagles

There is much to learn from the poetic imagery in Parshat Ha’azinu. The image that particularly stands out is that of the nesher, eagle. The eagle which is one of the toughest of birds shows its more gentle side while parenting its young. In Dvarim 32:11 it says: “Like an eagle who rouses his nest, […]

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Survey

Thoughts on Viduy (confession)

The Book of Jonah is a book that hovers between fantasy and reality. Even if the string of events described within it are possible, it is still unrealistic to believe that the main message of the book is the actual storyline and the incidents it describes. A story about a fish that swallows a man […]

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Eye looking through hole

Parshat Nitzavim: Secrets Are For God

This week’s Parsha marks the culmination of the covenant between Hashem and Bnei Yisrael, before they enter the land of Israel. The covenant focuses on the communal responsibility to prevent idol worship, and ends with the following pasuk: הנסתרת לה’ א-להינו והנגלת לנו ולבנינו עד עולם לעשות את כל דברי התורה הזאת Secrets are for […]

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Make Yourself Heard

Ki Tetze – Judicial Sensitivity and Wisdom

A fascinating, yet little-known explanation ties the famous Mishpat Shlomo – King Shlomo’s most famous judgement – to this week’s Torah portion. The explanation the Meiri[i] offers to the story of Mishpat Shlomo [ii] reveals the “behind-the-scenes” manipulations and strategy of the two litigants and King Shlomo’s brilliant method of uncovering the truth. The story […]

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Turn Back

Elul: Transforming Transgressions into Merits

Reish Lakish said: “Great is תשובה (repentance) because it transforms זדונות (premeditated sins) into שגגות (inadvertent transgressions)”. Oh Really? Didn’t he also say? “Great is תשובה (repentance) because it transforms premeditated sins into זכויות (merits)”? There is no contradiction. The first one refers to “Teshuva Meyir’ah” (out of fear of G-d), the other refers to “Teshuva Me’ahava” […]

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10 Commandments Carved In Stone

Parshat Re’eh: Deuteronomic Statement of Torah Law

Deuteronomy, Sefer Devarim, presents Moses’ speech that reviews the historical memory of God’s contact with Israel in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. In the Torah’s three middle books, God is the speaker; Deuteronomy opens with the Johnny Carson-like introduction: “here’s Moses!” At his career’s beginning, Moses tries to avoid the divine call, arguing “I am not […]

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Searching For God

Parshat Va’etchanan: To Seek and To Find

In his “Varieties of Religious Experience,” William James identifies the “sad discordancy” of religious experiences in the secular world. “But they come seldom, and they do not come to everyone; and the rest of life makes no connection with them, or tends to contradict them than it confirms them.” This sentiment is succinctly captured by […]

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