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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 […]

Parshat Balak: From Curse to Blessing

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages – Numbers The opening verse in the daily order of public prayer is the familiar “Ma tovu ohalekha Ya’akov, mishkenotekha Yisrael,” “How good are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel” (Numbers 24:5). It must be quite an important verse to be […]

Parshat Chukat: An Abundance of Mystery  

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s Unlocking the Torah Text – Bamidbar: An In-depth Journey into the Weekly Parsha Context With the phrase Zot chukat haTorah, “This is the statute of the Torah,”God introduces the laws surrounding the purifying ritual of the para aduma, the red heifer. In summary, the Torah mandates that an individual who […]

Parshat Korach: Reenacting an Old Drama

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages – Numbers   The rebellion of Korah and his co-conspirators against Moses and Aaron, of which we read this morning, is the first great, direct test of the leadership of Moses. The quelling of the rebellion of this band of malcontents reestablished and […]

Parshat Shelach — Chet Hameraglim 1: Unfair Blame?

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s ‘Unlocking The Torah Text: An In-Depth Journey Into The Weekly Parsha- Bamidbar’ Context As the nation stands poised to enter the land of Canaan, Moshe selects twelve meraglim, spies, to tour Canaan and bring back a detailed report concerning the land and its inhabitants. Upon their return, the spies issue an […]

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). […]