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Rabbi Asher Brander

Rabbi Asher Brander

Rabbi Asher Brander is Rabbi of the Westwood Kehilla, Founder/Dean of the LINK (Los Angeles INtercommunity) Kollel, and has been a long time High School Rebbe.

Simchat Torah: The Secret of Our Eternity

September 30, 2009, by

Jews live in calendar dialectics, oscillating between two Jewish New Years (Tishrei/Nissan) and two Judgment Days (Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur). Perhaps the greatest Jewish storyteller of all time, the Dubner Maggid, (Rabbi Yaakov Krantz, d. 1804) was once asked: Why do we celebrate both Simchat Torah (the completion of the annual Torah cycle) and Shavuos (commemorating

Haazinu: The Rock

September 23, 2009, by

I hope we read Haazinu this Shabbos and next Shabbos and the Shabbos after that. When that happens, it will be a throwback – or more precisely, a return to the good ole Beis Hamikdash days – a time that reading Ha’azinu was a weekly occurrence: A simple Tamudic section explains: [Rosh Hashana 31a] It

Nitzavim: Closing Thoughts

September 10, 2009, by

The hour is late. That’s a double entendre – for it’s a couple of hours before the Holy Shabbos, the last one of the year and only a few more days [T-72] before year’s end. A few closing thoughts: For this mitzvah that I am prescribing to you today is not too mysterious or remote

Vayelech: Never Give Up!

September 10, 2009, by

It’s a scary familiar term – one that we invoke to assess the unexplainable and capture the unimaginable. The phrase? Hester Panim and it means that God hides His face from us. Rather than penetrate this notion, let us simply observe from whence it emerges. Perhaps it will offer us a window into the notion

Ki Tavo: Be Happy!

September 3, 2009, by

One senses something incredibly deep going on in bikkurim, a seemingly simple mitzvah of delivering the first produce of the seven species up to Yerushalayim to the kohen. It is a mitzvah whose protocol greatly transcends its content. Consider the following mishnaic snapshot of the 2nd temple annual bikkurim parade: How were the bikkurim taken

Ki Teitzei: The Battle

August 27, 2009, by

Caught up in the passions and anxiety that is the very stuff of war, enticed by the [enemy] maidens whose job is to distract, the victorious Jewish soldier falls for the woman and takes her home. In this yefat toar [beautiful maiden] section, the Torah does not flinch [Devarim, 21:10-13] If you should go to

Shoftim: Fearfully Yours

August 18, 2009, by

One afternoon, Bill Clinton was sitting in his office when his telephone rang. “Hello Mr. Clinton,” a heavily accented voice says. “This is Yankel down in Tel-Aviv Israel. I am ringing to inform you that I am officially declaring war on you!” .. “Well, Yankel,” Bill replies, “This indeed is important news! Tell me, how

Re’eh: A Cloak of Mercy

August 12, 2009, by

A triplet of deviation plays a starring role in our parsha [Chapter 13]: First the false prophet [navi sheker] If a prophet arises among you or a dreamer of a dream, and he gives you an omen or a miracle, .. And the omen or the miracle happens— the one he told you about—saying, “Let

Devarim: Serenity & Desire

July 22, 2009, by

Tisha B’av and Devarim (the parsha) make appropriate bedfellows. Chazal find in Moshe’s eicha complaint echoes of Yirmiyahu and future lamentations. Thus the prevalent minhag of chanting that verse in the sad eicha tune. Devarim, Moshe’s retrospective is all about what could have been and what went wrong. Finally, it is a parsha that sows

Masei: Wanderings

July 15, 2009, by

You wouldn’t think so, but in most Ashkenazi synagogues around the world, Bnei Yisrael’s forty two desert journeys that open our parsha are a reason [for the ba’al koreh] to break out in song, a special uplifting four part cadence that echoes the shirat hayam (song at the sea). Not to be outdone, a fascinating