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Parshat Re’eh – Absent Presence: A Personal Retrospective

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s Unlocking the Torah Text – Sefer Devarim Context By rabbinic mandate, the section of Parshat Re’eh detailing the agricultural and festival cycle of the Jewish year1 is among the Torah passages read in synagogue on the festivals of Pesach, Shavuot and Shmini Atzeret (the independent holy day attached as an eighth […]

Parshat Va’Etchanan: The Dialogue of Prayer

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s ‘Unlocking The Torah Text: An In-Depth Journey Into The Weekly Parsha- Devarim‘ Context Although a distinct, separate obligation, the mitzva of Kriat Shma is not performed in isolation. Instead, the three paragraphs of the Shma are woven into, and recited as part of, central sections of the morning and evening prayer […]

Parshat Shelach: Having Self-Respect

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages — Numbers  There is an old proverb, in the finest and juiciest vernacular, which expresses a great and unfortunate truth – “As the Gentile goes, so goes the Jew.” This pointed and biting comment on the Jew in exile is amply attested to […]

Parshat Beha’alotecha: A Definition of Anivut

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages — Numbers  Our sidra this morning introduces us, rather casually and incidentally, to one of the most important and highly celebrated virtues in the arsenal of religion – that of anivut. We read in today’s portion, “And the man Moses was the most […]

Parshat Naso: A Jewish Definition of Power

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages — Numbers  Our haftara this morning tells of the birth of one of the most colorful personalities in biblical history, Samson. He is the only biblical figure known in Jewish literature as a gibor, a hero or strongman. His power was proverbial. This […]

Had Gadya, One Little Goat

Excerpted from Dr. Erica Brown’s Seder Talk: A Conversational Haggada   One little goat Had Gadya is a fanciful whimsy of a song, likely of medieval German origin. This type of folksong that introduces characters who each have a destructive relationship with the previous character creates an image of a creature who ultimately swallows all. While […]

Parshat Teruma: Living Up to Your Image

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages– Exodus We read in this morning’s sidra of the instructions given to Moses to build the Tabernacle. Among other things, he is commanded to build the Ark, containing the Tablets of the Law. This aron, Moses is told, should be made of wood […]

Chanukah: On the Threshold

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Festivals of Faith: Reflections on the Jewish Holidays In its discussion of the proper placement of the Hanukkah menorah, the Talmud (Shabbat 22a) decides in favor of R. Shmuel mi-Difti: one must place the menorah at the left of the doorpost as one enters, with the mezuzah on the right. Maimonides codifies […]

Sukkot: The Illusions We Live By

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Festivals of Faith: Reflections on the Jewish Holidays The Halakhah is generally rich in the use of illusions, and especially in its treatment of the laws of Sukkot. There is, for instance, the law of lavud. This means that even if there exist empty spaces in the sekhakh, or the covering of […]

Hear, O Father — An Excerpt on Yom Kippur

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Festivals of Faith: Reflections on the Jewish Holidays  The Shema, the most celebrated and significant passage in all of Jewish literature, is one that we are required to pronounce twice every day. Yom Kippur is, of course, no exception. Yet those who are observant will have noticed that there is one slight […]