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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.

Pekudei: Returning Home

March 17, 2009, by

Everyone knows that the Mishkan is God’s house. To Ramban however, it is also home. Consider: if there are “three partners in the creation of Man: God, the father, and the mother” [Kiddushin 30b], then the Mishkan, our national abode and the place of that dynamic partnership, must resonate the subtle influence of ALL our

Ki Tisa: A Stiff-Necked People

March 11, 2009, by

Over the years, the Jews have been privileged to receive many appellations. Among the more famous (and positive) are Chosen People, People of the Book, Eternal People, Light unto the Nations [am hanivchar, am hasefer, am hanetzach, or lagoyim, respectively]. This week’s parsha finds our people receiving yet another tag – one that for good

Zachor: Remember Not to Forget

March 4, 2009, by

Blackberry or Treo or iPhone. I won’t pasken on this vexing contemporary shayla. Either way, it is the business of a multi-billion dollar enterprise, the memory industry. Capitalizing on human frailty, the PDA offers compensation; in a world moving ever so quickly, we dare not forget that crucial meeting nor miss that all-important birthday (anniversary,

Terumah: The Outer World

February 25, 2009, by

For the first time, (but certainly not the last), Jews are asked to donate. In all, three donations are required to start up the Mishkan. First, an appeal for raw materials, a second call for the silver sockets, and a third one for a communal sacrifice fund (1). The latter two were united in that

Mishpatim: A Prayer Like None Other

February 18, 2009, by

Ensconced amidst the myriad civil laws that form Mishpatim’s essence are two cry-out sections. First we find the stark prohibition of oppressing the widow/orphan [Shemos, 22:21-23] You must not mistreat any widow or orphan. If you do mistreat him [them], when he cries out to Me, I will indeed hear his cry. Then I will

Yitro: Head over Heart

February 10, 2009, by

On return from a beautiful whirlwind trip in Eretz Yisrael visiting post-high school yeshivot, I do chazara (mental review) – trying to recollect the inspirational moments. [Full disclosure: as a Rabbi, I am also constantly scrounging for good drasha material]. They often turn out to be the unexpected ones; experience shows that canned inspiration has

Beshalach: Unity and Passion – Theirs and Ours

February 4, 2009, by

Twice in the Torah do our Rabbis find demonstrations of complete unity. One is very famous, the other quite surprising. On their way to receiving the Torah, the Jews encamp against the mountain [Shemos, 19:2]. Vayichan sham Yisrael neged hahar – Yisrael encamped facing towards the mountain By using the singular and not the plural

Bo: Mission Accomplished

January 29, 2009, by

Chaim was on a tour of Paris’ Louvre. On the tour was an elderly American woman, whose appreciation for art must have begun and ended with her grandchildren’s works which hung proudly on her refrigerator. As the guide passed the Mona Lisa, the oohs and ahs of the crowd were drowned out by the cynicism

Va’eira: Probing the Code

January 22, 2009, by

Messianism is a brisk and dangerous business. A top story in the news about a year ago, was the halachic status of an erstwhile convert who believes in a Mashiach that is no longer alive. I will stay out of the minefield, other than to note that where there is tremendous pain, there is messianic

Shemot: Of Rachmanut and Redemption

January 15, 2009, by

For about three months, Moshe had a normal childhood. Then, under Pharaoh’s decree, mother Yocheved weepingly sets him afloat upon the Nile river. A most traumatic beginning manifests itself in a deliciously ironic and remarkable way as Pharaoh’s daughter, Bityah finds the basket as she “coincidentally” goes out to bathe. Pharaoh’s daughter went down to