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Be’Haalotcha: To Teach, to Inspire
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In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day’s work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years. ~Jacques Barzun In Parshat Behaalotcha, the Torah speaks of the Kohen Gadol Aaron kindling, lighting the Menorah.  As with much of Torah, this seems straightforward enough.  Of course he would light the menorah.  However, […]
The Numbers Don’t Lie: Balance and Symmetry
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There is perhaps no greater cultural image of Jewish life than the “fiddler on the roof”.  In him, we see ourselves seeking to find the balance between the beauty and grace of our tradition with the challenges and seductions of the world around us. The truth is, we all seek balance in our lives.  As […]
Today. Everyday. Change and the Challenge of Life
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There is nothing permanent except change – Heraclitus It is told of a king who once offered his beautiful daughter and half his kingdom to anyone who could provide for him something that would make him happy when he was sad and sad when he was happy.  Despite death being the consequence to anyone who […]
When in Rome…? Israel and Morality
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We are taught by tradition to observe “minhag hamakom”, the custom of the “house”.  When in someone’s territory, we are to respect and abide by his rules and traditions.  Our rabbis were clear that this is the best path for coexisting peacefully with our fellows.  Writ large, it is this tradition that has Jews in […]
In the Eye of the Beholder?
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What makes a photograph museum worthy? What is it about the photographer’s eye that allows him to take a memorable shot?  After D-Day, tens of thousands arrived in New York, but only one captured image defines the moment.  The horrors of war are beyond counting, yet a single searing image of a child suffering the […]
The Stork and What its Name Means for Us
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Hebrew, filled with beauty and poetic power, is a language in which words carry deep, sacred import in addition to its “plain meaning” and historical context.  Our tradition finds a near-mystical relationship between words and things in assigning numerical values to letters.  By doing so, it suggests that words or phrases that share identical numerical […]
Revelation Takes Work: Holiness is A Step by Step Engagement
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Imagine a Hollywood director envisioning the moment when Shemot closes. Here was a people who, having been redeemed from slavery had come into the desert to receive the magnificent revelation of God’s Commandments! What a glorious moment! Can you picture how it would be portrayed in film? Rapturous music, with the heavens opened up with […]
The Power of Beauty
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The L-rd spoke to Moses, saying: “You shall make a kiyor [washstand] of copper… and you shall put water therein. Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and feet from it. When they enter the Tent of Meeting, they shall wash with water so that they will not die; or when they approach the […]