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(Don’t) Look Back
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We live in the present, fantasize about the future, and distort the past. The mind, homo sapiens’ greatest tool, can imagine a beautiful future and set in motion the plan to implement it. Alternatively, man can be weighed down by the past, unable to escape preconceptions, negative experiences, or abuses imagined or real. Both the […]
The High Holy Days: Belief in Man
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The Rosh Hashanah – Yom Kippur season is upon us, filling our minds and hearts with so many thoughts and emotions that go beyond our normal framework.This unique time of the Jewish year stands in stark contrast to the New Year’s experience marked by the Gregorian calendar: The approach to Rosh Hashanah is counted down […]
A Recipe for Happiness
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Modern man is many things, but more than anything else, modern man is privileged. Had previous generations caught a glimpse of our lives they would have been in awe, convinced that we live in utopia. So much of the drudgework that constituted the majority of daily life in antiquity, the menial labor that made subsistence […]
Abuse
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Parashat Ki Tetze discusses a host of abusive behaviors, some sexual and others financial.In general, the Torah legislates against these aberrant behaviors, deeming them illegal. We have no particular difficulty understanding these laws; as a whole, theobjective of Torah lawis to create a just, healthy society. Abusive behavior of any kind runs counter to this […]
The Vagabond
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On a lonely dark road, swift movements, footsteps, a thud… silence: a corpse. Who was he? Presumably, the kind of person who is alone in the dark of night, the type of person who wanders from town to town, the type of person who does not really have a place he calls home; a vagabond. […]
Choices
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God gives man choices; these are described as blessings and curses, or life and death. Remarkably, mankind has always needed to be encouraged to choose life. This seemingly automatic, rational choice has never been the “no-brainer” it should be. Why would any sane person choose a cursed path that leads to certain death over the […]
Is “One” a Number?
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To a large extent, the Book of Devarim is a polemic against idolatry. Moshe instructs, cajoles and admonishes as he attempts to inspire the people to follow one God. In the portion of VaEtchanan especially, there is a positive declaration, which is often described as the credo of Judaism: “Hear o Israel: God is our […]
The Price of Hatred
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It is often quoted in the name of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook that just as the Temple was destroyed due to baseless hatred, it will be rebuilt due to baseless love.While this teaching sounds simple, it is in fact highly nuanced, and deserves more serious consideration. The image that comes to mind when we hear […]
Walking in Circles
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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 […]
“Shall Your Brothers Go To War While You Sit Here?”
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“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 […]