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Shavuos: The Torah’s Mystery Man

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Festivals of Faith: Reflections on the Jewish Holidays  The Book of Ruth read on Shavuot is a beautiful and inspiring story, instructive to us in many ways. The story itself is fairly simple, and most of us are, or should be, well acquainted with it. The cast of characters is well-known: […]

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). […]

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 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 […]

Mi She’asah Nissim: The Prayer

He who performed miracles for our ancestors Excerpted from Yerach Tov: Birkat HaChodesh in Jewish Law and Liturgy, but Rabbi Elchanan Adler Why do we mention our exodus from Egypt and pray for redemption specifically in the context of Birkat HaChodesh? What resonance do these memories and prayers have with the institution of Birkat HaChodesh? […]

Parshat Shmini: Mysterious Tragedy

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s Unlocking the Torah Text – Vayikra Context Finally, after seven days of preparation, an eighth, celebratory day of investiture dawns for Aharon and his sons. On this day, they will publicly assume the kehuna, an honored priestly role to be bequeathed, in perpetuity, to their descendents. At God’s command, the […]

Neither Here Nor There

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Festivals of Faith: Reflections on the Jewish Holidays Toward the end of the Book of Esther, which we shall read this week, we are told that after their miraculous deliverance the Jews accepted upon themselves the observance of Purim forever after. Kiyyemu ve-kibbelu, the Jews “confirmed and took upon themselves” […]

The Inside Story of the Megillah

Excerpted from Rabbi Lamm’s ‘The Megillah: Majesty & Mystery’ Who is the real hero of the Megillah? Of course, if we refer the question to the folk-consciousness of our people, there is no doubt that the answer is either Esther or Mordecai. Remarkably, however, if we refer to the Megillah itself, we discover that the […]