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Parshat Naso: Sinner or Saint?

Excerpted from Unlocking the Torah Text –Bamidbar by Rabbi Shmuel Goldin Context Conflicting signals mark the Torah’s attitude towards a man or a woman who vows to become a Nazirand thus accepts the personal obligation to refrain from 1. Consumption of wine, grapes and any grape product 2. Haircuts 3. Any defiling contact with a human corpse […]

Parshat Bamidbar – Beyond Mitzvot

Excerpted from Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages – Numbers by Rabbi Norman Lamm  Our haftara for this morning, from the second chapter of Hosea, begins on a high optimistic note: “And the number of the Children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered” (2:1). […]

Bernard Revel Arrested for Socialist Agitation

Excerpted from “Bernard Revel: Builder of American Jewish Orthodoxy” by By Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff The ideals of social justice and human betterment were of paramount concern even within the yeshiva world. Many yeshiva students abandoned their studies and completely cast their lot with the revolutionary groups. Others envisioned plans whereby these secular ideologies could be merged […]

Rabbi Eliezer Silver Meets President Taft

Excerpt from the new OU Press book, The Silver Era: Rabbi  Eliezer Silver and His Generation, by Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff   On June 12, 1912, [Rabbi Eliezer Silver] was part of a delegation which called upon William Howard Taft, the twenty-seventh president of the United States. It was the first time that such a group […]

Parshat Behar-Bechukotai: A Casual Curse

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s ‘Unlocking The Torah Text: An In-Depth Journey Into The Weekly Parsha- Vayikra’ Context As Parshat Bechukotai and the book of Vayikra draw to a close, God delivers a stinging rebuke and warning to the Israelites. Known as the Tochacha Haketana, the small rebuke (in contrast to a second, larger rebuke found in […]

Parshat Behar: Yearning to Be Free

Excerpted from Unlocking the Torah Text –Vayikra by Rabbi Shmuel Goldin Two specific commandments to count seven cycles of seven units each, leading to a fiftieth culminating unit, appear in the Torah within the span of two contiguous parshiot. In Parshat Emor, the Torah commanded the counting of the forty-nine days of the Omer (seven weeks, each […]

Parshat Kedoshim: The Meaning of Holiness

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages – Leviticus Kedusha, holiness, is by all means the most important principle of Judaism. The highest ideal to which any person can aspire is that of holiness. All the commandments of the Torah were given so that Israel could become a “goy kadosh,” […]

Parshat Emor: Why Do We Count?

Excerpted from Unlocking the Torah Text –Vayikra by Rabbi Shmuel Goldin In the midst of the Torah’s discussion concerning the festival cycle, immediately after the commandment concerning the Omer offering (a barley offering in the Temple which marks the beginning of the harvest and allows the use of that season’s grain), the following mandate is found: And […]

The Sabbath of Greatness

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Festivals of Faith: Reflections on the Jewish Holidays Many reasons have been offered as to why this Sabbath before the holiday of Passover is known by the name Shabbat ha-Gadol. Allow me to commend to your attention one such reason, which I find particularly significant. The author of the Tur, one […]

The Seder Night: Exalted Evening

Excerpted from ‘The Seder Night: An Exalted Evening’ A Passover Haggadah with a commentary based on the teachings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik; Edited by Rabbi Menachem D. Genack סדר הקערה The Talmud (Pesachim 114b) discusses the requirement to place shenei tavshilin, two cooked items, on the Seder plate, commemorating the korban Pesach and the […]