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 […]

Parshat Ekev: Anatomy of a Blessing

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 Towards the beginning of Parshat Ekev Moshe describes the land of Canaan’s physical bounty and warns the nation against taking God’s role in that bounty for granted: “For the […]

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 Tetzaveh: Channeling Change

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages — Exodus, co-published by OU Press and Maggid Publishers   One of the main and most fundamental contentions of all moralists of all ages is that human nature is not basically unchangeable.Ask any teacher of religion whether change is possible in Man, and his […]

Parshat Re’eh – Absent Presence: A Personal Retrospective

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s Unlocking the Torah Text – Sefer Devarim, co-published by OU Press and Gefen Publishers Context By rabbinic mandate, the section of Parshat Re’eh detailing the agricultural and festival cycle of the Jewish year1 is among the Torah passages read in synagogue on the festivals of Pesach, Shavuot and Shmini Atzeret (the […]

Parshat Shelach: Having Self-Respect

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages — Numbers  There is an old proverb, in the finest and juiciest vernacular, which expresses a great and unfortunate truth – “As the Gentile goes, so goes the Jew.” This pointed and biting comment on the Jew in exile is amply attested to […]

Hear, O Father — An Excerpt on Yom Kippur

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Festivals of Faith: Reflections on the Jewish Holidays  The Shema, the most celebrated and significant passage in all of Jewish literature, is one that we are required to pronounce twice every day. Yom Kippur is, of course, no exception. Yet those who are observant will have noticed that there is one slight […]

Parshat Re’eh: The Month of the Door

Excerpted from Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages – Deuteronomy, by Rabbi Norman Lamm The pilgrimages prescribed by our sidra for the three major festivals were no pleasure trip for the pilgrims of ancient Judea. Their journey had to be undertaken in days when there were unavailable not only first class hotels, but barely inns […]

Chet Hameraglim: A Tale of Two Sins

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s ‘Unlocking The Torah Text: An In-Depth Journey Into The Weekly Parsha- Bamidbar’ co-published by OU Press and Gefen Publishers  This week we read Parashat Devarim which recounts the story of the spies, and precedes the fast of Tisha B’Av. In this excerpt from Unlocking the Torah Text: Bamidbar, Rabbi Shmuel Goldin discusses […]

Parshat Masei — In Retrospect: A Troubling Travelogue

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s Unlocking the Torah Text – Bamidbar: An In-depth Journey into the Weekly Parsha Context Parshat Masei, the final parsha in the book of Bamidbar, opens with a retrospective listing of the forty-two stations that marked the Israelites’ wilderness wanderings. Questions What is the purpose of this after-the-fact travelogue? Why is this […]