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Parshat Ekev: The Tefillin Inside Me
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Parshat Ekev includes the fourth and last of the Parshiot of Tefillin. In the context of the mitzvah of Tefillin one puts all four Parshiot both on the arm and on the head. Throughout our Parsha series we have described the two basic impulses of life as Doing and Being. The two components of Tefillin […]
Parshat Va’etchanan: Loving is Listening
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The ancient kabbalistic work “Sefer Yetzera” deals extensively with the creative power of speech. However, when it lists the three organs of love, it does not mention the mouth. The three organs of love according to “Sefer Yetzera” are the heart and the two ears. Loving is listening. This point is often missing as speaking […]
Parshat Devarim: The Art of Rebuke
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From the days of the prophets through modern Israeli society, rebuke and criticism have been the bread and butter of Jewish discourse. Many will be surprised to learn that in the Torah giving rebuke is considered to be the way to overcome hatred and alienation. In the book of Vayekra we are told, “Don’t hate […]
Parshat Matos-Masei: Forty Years of Schooling
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Rabbi David Zeller z”l was born to a Reform Jewish family in the United States. His search for spirituality brought him to India where he lived as a Sadhu, an ascetic who lives without material possessions. Zeller’s insights and experiences in India ultimately brought him back to Judaism and he became an Orthodox Rabbi who […]
Parshat Balak: A Nation that Dwells Alone?
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Balaam prophesies relating to the people of Israel “the nation shall dwell alone, and not be reckoned among the nations” (Bamidbar 23:9) Many see these words of Balaam as the formative statement of the relationship between Israel and the nations of the world. The Perennial anti-Semitism in the world and Israel’s international isolation would seem […]
Parshat Chukat: An Unforgivable Sin?
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The end is in sight. After forty years of Moshe waiting in the desert, his dream of entering the land seems about to be realized. Suddenly, Moshe does one misstep and all is lost forever. Instead of speaking to the rock to make water flow from it, he strikes it and a result he is […]
Parshat Korach: Not for the Sake of Heaven
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The Mishna in Pirkei Avot teaches that there are two forms of arguments, those that are for the sake of heaven, and those that are driven by ulterior motives. The challenge is to distinguish between them, which is no simple task. In our Parsha, Korach demands equality for all. On the surface he presents a […]
Parshat Shelach: The Lady and the Tzizit
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The Talmud tells the tale of the yeshiva student who was overcome with desire to meet a certain illustrious prostitute. He sends a large sum of money in advance and goes on a long journey to meet her. Ultimately he arrives, but right before sinning, his Tzitzit slap him in the face, bringing him back […]