Parshat Bereishit: Good and Evil — Who Decides?

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s ‘Unlocking The Torah Text: An In-Depth Journey Into The Weekly Parsha- Bereishit’, co-published by OU Press and Gefen Publishers Context God places Adam in the beautiful Garden of Eden, surrounded  by a bounty of natural sustenance. Two exceptional trees are also planted in the garden: the Tree of Life and […]

RETURN: Daily Inspiration for the Days of Awe — Day 10: Holiness

Excerpted from Erica Brown’s Return: Daily Inspiration for the Days of Awe Day Ten: Holiness “For the sin we committed before You by desecrating the Divine name.” “You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). Holiness is a mandate. We are obligated to be holy for without necessarily understanding what […]

RETURN: Daily Inspiration for the Days of Awe — Day 4: Humility

Excerpted from Erica Brown’s Return: Daily Inspiration for the Days of Awe, co-published by OU Press and Maggid Books Day Four: Humility “For the sin we committed before You by haughtily stretching forth the neck.”. The word humility is rooted int he Latin word for “grounded” or “low,” from the word “humus” or earth. To be […]

Parshat Shoftim: Poetry or Practicality

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s ‘Unlocking The Torah Text: An In-Depth Journey Into The Weekly Parsha- Devarim’, co-published by OU Press and Gefen Publishers   Context We have previously noted and discussed the tension created by the multilayered character of the book of Devarim (see Devarim 1). On the one hand, as we have noted, Devarim […]

Birkon Mesorat HaRav: Essay on Birkat HaMazon

Excerpted from Birkon Mesorat HaRav: The Wintman Edition, edited by Rabbi David Hellman with commentary from the Rav, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik   Birkat HaMazon: To Bless the Great and Holy Name   Birkat HaMazon, like our entire liturgy, exists on two planes. On the one hand, it is a standardized text instituted by the rabbis that we […]

Headlines: Shooting Down a Hijacked Plane – Killing a Few to Save the Lives of Many

Excerpted from Dovid Lichtenstein’s Headlines: Halachic Debates of Current Events Shooting Down a Hijacked Plane:  Killing a Few to Save the Lives of Many   The devastating tragedy of 9/11 introduced to the world a frightening new form of terrorism — the use of hijacked planes as torpedoes to blow up crowded buildings and skyscrapers, רחמנא […]

Parshat Pekudei: Time, Space, and Man

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages — Exodus, co-published by OU Press and Maggid Publishers In our traditional Jewish literature, especially our Kabbalistic literature, all of life, experience, and existence are conceived of as consisting of three dimensions: olam, shana, and nefesh. Literally, these mean world, year, and soul. Actually, […]

Parshat Ki Tisa: Stubbornness

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages — Exodus, co-published by OU Press and Maggid Publishers   It was Rabbi Simcha Zissel, one of the giants of the Lithuanian Mussar movement, who pointed out an unusual aspect of God’s reaction to the worship of the Golden Calf by the Israelites. The […]

Parshat Bereishit — Reflections on the Divine Image

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages — Genesis   Parashat Bereshit teaches us one of the most fundamental concepts of our faith. It is something we speak of often, and that is perhaps why we frequently fail to appreciate its depth and the magnitude of its influence. The concept […]

Parshat Ki Tavo: Selihot – The First Fruits of the New Year

  Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages — Deuteronomy, co-published by OU Press and Maggid Books   At the beginning of today’s sidra we read of two institutions which were legislated for our ancestors by Moses. The first is the bikurim, the commandment to bring the first fruit to the […]