Parshat Vayikra: Chance or Providence

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages – Leviticus, co-published by OU Press and Maggid Books CHANCE OR PROVIDENCE* A fundamental question, that has no doubt occurred to many of us here today, is: What is it that makes one person religious and another irreligious? True, there are obvious differences in […]

The Mitzvah of Kiddush HaChodesh

Excerpted from Rabbi Elchanan Adler’s Yerach Tov: Birkat HaChodesh in Jewish Law & Liturgy Chapter 2: The Mitzvah of Kiddush HaChodesh (click here for Chapter 1: Announcing Rosh Chodesh) Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon in the land of Egypt, saying: this month is for you the head of the months; it is the first for […]

Announcing Rosh Chodesh

Excerpted from Rabbi Elchanan Adler’s Yerach Tov: Birkat HaChodesh in Jewish Law & Liturgy  Background On the Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh, it is customary to recite Birkat HaChodesh. Birkat HaChodesh, as practiced by Ashkenazic Jewry, is comprised of five elements: The paragraph of Yehi Ratzon, announcement of the molad, the paragraph Mi She’asah Nissim, announcement of […]

Parshat Ki Tisa: A Sin for the Ages

Excerpted by Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s Unlocking the Torah Text-Shmot, co-published by OU Press and Gefen Publishers Context Rooted at the base of Sinai, the Israelites grow restive as they wait for Moshe to descend from the mountain’s summit. Turning to Aharon, they demand, “Rise up, make for us gods who will go before us, for Moshe […]

Parshat Ki Tissa: What About Aharon?

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s Unlocking the Torah Text-Shmot, co-published by OU Press and Gefen Publishers Context When Moshe ascends Mount Sinai to receive the first set of Tablets of Testimony, he leaves his brother Aharon, together with Chur, in charge of the people. Nearly forty full days later, the Israelites grow restless over Moshe’s prolonged […]

Purim: Remember to Forget

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Festivals of Faith REMEMBER TO FORGET* Memory and forgetfulness are subjects for study by psychologists, neurologists, and cyberneticians. It is for them to learn and explain the “how” of these processes, the mechanisms, the dynamics. But these themes are also the substance of spiritual life. Many commandments of the Torah refer […]

Parshat Teruma: Why Build It At All?

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s ‘Unlocking The Torah Text: An In-Depth Journey Into The Weekly Parsha- Shemot‘ co-published by OU Press and Gefen Publishers   Context As the Israelites stand rooted at Sinai, yet another major foundation of their eternal heritage is divinely laid. God turns to Moshe and commands, “And they shall make for Me […]

Parshat Yitro: The Top Ten?

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s Unlocking the Torah Text – Shmot, co-published by OU Press and Gefen Publishers Context Finally God commences the process of Revelation with the transmission of the Ten Declarations to the Israelites: “I am the Lord your God…; You shall have no other gods before Me…; Do not take the name […]

Parshat Beshalach: What Makes A Jewish Song Jewish

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages – Exodus, co-published by OU Press and Maggid Books What Makes a Jewish Song Jewish?¹ In discussing the theme of this sermon, “What Makes a Jewish Song Jewish?,” I speak as a rabbi, not as a musician or connoisseur of the arts. I […]

Parshat Va’eira: Belated Introductions

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s Unlocking the Torah Text-Shmot, co-published by OU Press and Gefen Publishers Context When Moshe’s birth was chronicled in Parshat Shmot, the text deliberately omitted any description of his lineage, choosing instead to preface his birth with the mysterious sentence “And a man went from the House of Levi and he […]