Parashat Vayetzeh: The Stone on the Well – Boulder or Pebble?

Excerpted from Rabbi Dr. Norman J. Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages – Genesis, co-published by OU Press and Maggid Books The Stone on the Well – Boulder or Pebble?* In reading this sidra we are puzzled by some extraordinary incidents there recorded. Jacob, we read, had chanced upon a group of shepherds waiting to […]

Parshat Toldot: Finding Yitzchak

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s Unlocking the Torah Text – Bereishit, co-published by OU Press and Gefen Publishing Finding Yitzchak Context Yitzchak, the second of the three patriarchs, emerges as the most enigmatic. In stark contrast to the dramatic lives of both his father, Avraham, and his son, Yaakov, Yitzchak’s life (aside from the Akeida) seems unremarkable. He is […]

Parashat Lekh Lekha: Down the Up Staircase

Excerpted from Rabbi Dr. Norman J. Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages – Genesis, co-published by OU Press and Maggid Books Down the Up Staircase* For over a thousand years, the weekly Torah portions have been known by their present names with only minor changes. According to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, these titles are “Torah names,” […]

Parshat Noach: Between Individual and Community: Societal Balance

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s Unlocking the Torah Text – Bereishit, co-published by OU Press and Gefen Publishers Context In Parshat Noach two doomed societies are presented for our attention: the generation of the flood and the generation of dispersion (the Tower of Bavel). In response to sin, God destroys the first of these generations through a flood […]

Festivals of Faith: Sukkot – The Starry Night

Excerpted from Rabbi Dr. Norman J. Lamm’s Festivals of Faith: Reflections on the Jewish Holidays The Starry Night* “Religion should change with the times.” I am sure that everyone in this congregation has, at one time or another, been accosted by this ubiquitous slogan. I know that I have had to contend with it ever since my first […]

Jonah: Prophetic Hesitation

Excerpted from Dr. Erica Brown’s Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet, co-published by OU Press and Maggid Books The Book of Jonah, simply put, is misnamed. This is not the account of a prophet. although an unusual Hebrew prophet stands at its center. This is a book about God, a God associated with a particular nation, Israel, […]

Festivals of Faith – Rosh HaShana: The Sense of Shame

Excerpted from Rabbi Dr. Norman J. Lamm’s Festivals of Faith: Reflections on the Jewish Holidays The Sense of Shame* We moderns have, to a large extent, lost the ability to feel ashamed. Young people grow up with an attitude of sneering cynicism, and moral restraint is treated like an anachronism, an outdated inhibition. Shame is unknown. Our theaters […]

Parshat Ki Tavo: One Nation, All Alone, Under God

Excerpted from Rabbi Dr. Norman J. Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages – Deuteronomy, co-published by OU Press and Maggid Books One Nation, All Alone, Under God* In the portion of this week’s reading which describes the blessings that will come upon Israel, we read one verse that is outstanding by its magnificence: “And […]

Parshat Ki Tetzei: Mandated Memory

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s Unlocking the Torah Text – Devarim, co-published by OU Press and Gefen Publishers. Context With the final three sentences of Parshat Ki Tetzei, the Torah turns its attention to the mitzva of remembering the crimes of the nation of Amalek, the archenemy of the Jewish people. Zachor, remember that which Amalek did to […]

Parshat Shoftim: A King in Israel

Excerpted from Rabbi Dr. Norman J. Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages – Deuteronomy, co-published by OU Press and Maggid Books A King in Israel* The Torah’s concept of a limited monarchy, with a king subservient to the law and to God, is first outlined in this morning’s sidra: “When you reach the Promised […]