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Parshat Shmini: Mysterious Tragedy

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s Unlocking the Torah Text – Vayikra Context Finally, after seven days of preparation, an eighth, celebratory day of investiture dawns for Aharon and his sons. On this day, they will publicly assume the kehuna, an honored priestly role to be bequeathed, in perpetuity, to their descendents. At God’s command, the […]

Neither Here Nor There

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Festivals of Faith: Reflections on the Jewish Holidays Toward the end of the Book of Esther, which we shall read this week, we are told that after their miraculous deliverance the Jews accepted upon themselves the observance of Purim forever after. Kiyyemu ve-kibbelu, the Jews “confirmed and took upon themselves” […]

The Inside Story of the Megillah

Excerpted from Rabbi Lamm’s ‘The Megillah: Majesty & Mystery’ Who is the real hero of the Megillah? Of course, if we refer the question to the folk-consciousness of our people, there is no doubt that the answer is either Esther or Mordecai. Remarkably, however, if we refer to the Megillah itself, we discover that the […]

Parshat Vayikra: The Man in the Middle

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s ‘Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages’- Leviticus  The key verse in our sidra, which introduces the entire subject of sacrifices, reads: “adam k yakriv mikem korban laHashem,” “When any man of you bringeth an offering unto the Lord” (Leviticus 1:2). The Zohar, intrigued by the use of the term “adam,” […]

Knowing and Announcing the Molad

In honor of the upcoming Shabbat Mevarekhim Chodesh Adar, OU Press is proud to feature an excerpt from Rabbi Elchanan Adler’s new book ‘Yerach Tov: Birkat HaChodesh in Jewish Law and Liturgy’, the prayer we recite ushering in the new month.    Sha’arei Ephraim writes (p. 145): Some say it is appropriate to know during […]

Parshat Vayakhel: Understanding Shabbat

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s ‘Unlocking The Torah Text: An In-Depth Journey Into The Weekly Parsha- Shemot Click here to buy the book  Context  As the curtain rises on Parshat Vayakhel, Moshe assembles the nation in order to convey God’s commandments concerning the construction of the Mishkan. Suddenly, however, he opens his remarks with the following directives […]

Parshat Teruma— Interpreting God’s Blueprint

As previously indicated, God initiates the creation of the Mishkan (the portable Sanctuary in the desert) with the seemingly straightforward directive, “And they shall create for me a mikdash (a holy place), and I will dwell within them.”

Parshat Mishpatim – Enlightened Self-Interest

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s ‘Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages’- Exodus Click here to buy the book Historians tell us that when they find a law in a document, they assume that the mode of conduct which this law prohibits is the one that generally prevailed before the law was passed. With this […]

Parshat Yitro: A Healthy Distance

The physical posture of the Israelites during the Revelation at Sinai is clearly delineated in advance when, preparatory to Matan Torah, God instructs Moshe: “Set a boundary for the people roundabout saying, ‘Beware of ascending the mountain or touching its edge; whoever touches the mountain shall certainly die…”

This commandment of hagbala (setting a boundary), however, will not be divinely enforced. Instead, God commands the Israelites to execute anyone who crosses the mandated perimeter.

Parshat Beshalach: Miriam’s Song

After recording the triumphant song offered by “Moshe and the children of Israel” on the banks of the Sea of Reeds, the Torah states: “And Miriam the Prophetess, the sister of Aharon, took the drum in her hand; and all the women went out after her with drums and with dances. And Miriam sang unto them: ‘Sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted; the horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea.’ ”