Half the Hanukkah Story

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Festivals of Faith   Two themes are central to the festival of Hanukkah which we welcome this week. They are, first, the nes milhamah, the miraculous victory of the few over the many and the weak over the strong as the Jews repulsed the Syrian-Greeks and reestablished their independence. The second […]

Variations on the Hanukkah Theme

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Festivals of Faith: Reflections on the Jewish Holidays Tonight, immediately after the Sabbath is over, we shall be confronted with the observance of two precious mitzvot: the kindling of the Hanukkah candles, for Hanukkah begins tonight; and the Havdalah, which marks the end of Sabbath. The question of which shall be performed […]

Parshat Vayishlach: Under the Terebinth

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages — Genesis, co-published by OU Press and Maggid Books   A strange ceremony is enacted by Jacob in this sidra. After the unhappy incident of the violation of Dina by Shechem, and the destruction of the city by Dina’s brothers, the sons of Jacob, […]

Parshat Vayishlach: Growing Pains

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages – Genesis, co-published by OU Press and Maggid Books   In one chapter of our sidra, the Torah mentions no less than four times the relationship between Esau and Edom (“Esav hu Edom” – “Esau is Edom”) – either describing their mutual identity, or […]

Concise Code: Lighting Shabbat Candles

Excerpted from “The Concise Code of Jewish Law – Vol. 2: A Guide to the Observance of Shabbat“ by Rabbi Gersion Appel, co-published by OU Press and Maggid Books   2. It is a mitzvah to light many candles in the home in honor of Shabbat. Some are accustomed to light ten candles, others seven candles. One of […]

Parshat Toldot: A Blessing on Your Head?

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 As Yitzchak ages and develops blindness, he arranges to bless his older and favored son, Esav. Rivka, upon overhearing her husband’s plans, instructs her favorite, Yaakov, to masquerade as his […]

Parshat Chayei Sara: Why Go Back?

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 As Avraham’s life draws near its end, he turns to his trusted servant (identified by the rabbis as Eliezer) an d instructs him to return to his homeland, Aram Naharaim, […]

Parshat Chayei Sara: Frankness as Vice and as Virtue

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s “Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages – Genesis” co-published by OU Press and Maggid Publishers Most people have mixed feelings with regard to that uncommon quality called frankness or candor – and that is as it should be. It is something no doubt to be admired, and all too rare in human […]

Parshat Chayei Sara: On Remaining Unperturbed

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s “Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages – Genesis” co-published by OU Press and Maggid Publishers   Of all the names that have been given to the period of history through which we are currently living, the most appropriate and descriptive is the “age of anxiety.” Indeed, it is anxiety that most accurately […]

Parshat Chayei Sara: Words – Scarce and Sacred

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s “Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages – Genesis” co-published by OU Press and Maggid Publishers What is the value of a word? This is a most appropriate question on the first Sabbath after our national elections took place. Elections to the presidency are a wondrous thing to behold and a glory and […]