Our Torah

After almost a month, Moshe finally concludes his farewell speech to Bnei Yisrael on the banks of the Yarden. With the poem of Haazinu finished, Moshe delivers his final charge: דברים לב מו וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֲלֵהֶם֙ שִׂ֣ימוּ לְבַבְכֶ֔ם לְכׇ֨ל־הַדְּבָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֧ר אָנֹכִ֛י מֵעִ֥יד בָּכֶ֖ם הַיּ֑וֹם אֲשֶׁ֤ר תְּצַוֻּם֙ אֶת־בְּנֵיכֶ֔ם לִשְׁמֹ֣ר לַעֲשׂ֔וֹת אֶת־כׇּל־דִּבְרֵ֖י הַתּוֹרָ֥ה הַזֹּֽאת׃ מז כִּ֠י לֹֽא־דָבָ֨ר רֵ֥ק […]

It’s All What We Make of It!

The Rosh Hashanah holiday is filled with symbolic imagery, yet few images perhaps have captivated the masses of Jewish People as the simplest of them all: the apple dipped in honey, signifying our hopes and blessings for a sweet new year. While the specific custom of an apple dipped in honey can only be traced […]

The Land of “Milk and Honey”?!

We find in the parsha that Eretz Yisrael is nick-named,”ארץ זבת חלב ודבש””The Land of Milk and Honey”. The idea behind this unusual description will help us understand the essence of the Holy Land, and will hopefully add depth to your time in Israel. Rav Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Israel, and spiritual father […]

First Fruit of Your Strength

The parsha of Ki Tetzeh describes a situation “when a man has two wives, one whom he loves and one whom he hates, and both the loved and unloved wives have sons, but the first-born is that of the unloved one” (Devarim 21:15). What follows is a rule regarding inheritance, “[Even if] the first-born is […]

Embracing the Transcendent

This week’s parasha begins with the famous mitzvah of the Para Aduma, the red heifer, which is used in the purification process after contact with a corpse. The Torah describes the mitzvah as a “Chok” – which is explained to mean: a type pf mitzvah which is ‘ a decree of the king[1]’ whose reasoning […]

It’s Not What You Are; It’s What You Do

There are three separate and distinct questions found in Parshat Korach; yet, their answers all thread together to relay the fundamental lesson of the entire parshah. The first query is found right in the beginning of the parsha, “ויקח קרח בן יצהר בן קהת בן לוי” – And Korach ben Yitzhar ben Kehat ben Levi […]

Earning the Fish of our Labor

In the sixth Aliyah of our Parsha (11:5-6) B’nei Yisrael recall longingly the foods they ate in Mitzrayim. זכרנו את הדגה אשר נאכל במצרים חנם את הקשאים ואת האבטחים ואת החציר ואת הבצלים ואת השומים ועתה נפשנו יבשה אין כל בלתי אל המן עינינו, “We remember the fish which we ate in Egypt for nothing; […]

Commitment, Obligation, Responsibility

I have noticed that many translate the word “mitzvah” into English as “good deed”. Perhaps this is because the word “commandment” falls hard on our modern ears, living in cultures that extol freedom, liberty and individual rights. Those are wonderful values rightly deserving of celebration, to be sure. They should, however, be balanced against the […]

From Slave to Master, Master to Slave

One of the more shocking behaviors that we find seemingly sanctioned in the Torah is the concept of slavery. Many of us are familiar with the most common explanation of the Torah’s sanctioning of this odious practice.  While in an ideal world we would find slavery forbidden by the Torah, the societal reality at the […]

The Courage to Step Up

Something that is often taken for granted by onlookers is the amount of practice and effort it takes to become proficient in something. I remember when I was a volunteer firefighter for the Lower Merion Fire Department and the incorrect notions people had about how one became a volunteer first responder. And I know about […]