Walking in Circles

July 21, 2014, by

There is something that may seem rather depressing about the start of the final parasha in the book of Bamidbar: The parasha begins with a retrospective of the various stops comprising the Israelites’ forty-year ordeal in the desert. Knowing, as we do, that the original plan had been to leave Egypt, make a quick stop […]

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“Shall Your Brothers Go To War While You Sit Here?”

July 14, 2014, by

“Shall your brothers go to war while you sit here?” With these words Moshe hurls a devastating moral attack against the tribes of Reuven (Reuben) and Gad, an attack that reverberates until this very day, and is used as ammunition against those who live in the modern state of Israel yet choose to take advantage […]

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July 7, 2014, by

Pinchas was a fanatic. As anyone raised in western society will tell you, fanatics are bad, and the only thing worse than a fanatic is a religious fanatic. We have been raised on the axiomatic, nearly – religious certainty that religious fanaticism is the root of all evil, the underlying cause of every conflict around […]

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Reading Anti-Semites

July 2, 2014, by

Parashat Balak begins with a peek into a world that both attracts and repulses us; it is a conversation among anti-Semites regarding the Jewish Problem. This conversation interests us because, on some level, we want to know what others are saying about our people – even to the point of an obsession that enthralls and […]

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Embracing Torah

June 23, 2014, by

Death permeates this week’s parasha. There are the obvious deaths – Moshe’s older siblings, Miriam and Aharon – and the not-so-obvious deaths: At some point, very quietly, the Torah has “fast forwarded” and skipped 38 years between the previous parashah, Korach, and this week’s parashah, Chukat; all the adults that left Egypt, the generation that […]

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Living the Dream; Ignoring Reality

June 16, 2014, by

Opportunism, demagoguery, manipulation, jealousy, conniving, self-destruction: These are just some of the words that come to mind when considering Korach and his rebellion. Moshe’s leadership was challenged many times, both before and after the Exodus from Egypt. Usually, these attacks arose in times of crisis; scarcity of resources has a way of bringing out the […]

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Have I Got a Land for You!

June 9, 2014, by

The tragic tale of the spies is well-known: Moshe handpicks leaders to pay a visit to the Promised Land, but the mission spirals out of control. Upon hearing the spies’ report, mass hysteria breaks out, and, as a result, a death sentence is handed down to all those involved: The entire generation that had been […]

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Despair and Hope

June 9, 2014, by

At one time or another, anyone may feel overwhelmed, either due to work-related stress, conflict with co-workers, friends, one’s spouse or children – or a combination of factors. For some people, problems have a way of metastasizing, spreading noxious despair that overtakes the more positive aspects of life. The pressures seem too much to handle; […]

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Avoiding Embezzlement

May 27, 2014, by

The major thrust of Parashat Naso is the initialization of the Temple, particularly the consecration offerings brought by the leaders of each tribe. After an opening section that deals with the stewards of the Temple service, but just before getting into the main topic of discussion, a few seemingly “random” laws are transmitted. The first […]

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An (Un)Necessary Book

May 19, 2014, by

As we begin reading the fourth book of the Torah, we cannot help feeling somewhat unsettled. Each of the chapters of B’midbar (Numbers) follows in logical sequence; no particular word or sentence causes us unease. Rather, the entire book, as a whole, gives us pause: At face value, this book should never have been written. […]

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