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In God We Trust
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Everyone has a price, or so we are told. Though we would love to believe that people of integrity do exist, people who cannot be bought, one of the unintended byproducts of capitalism is the subliminal message that everything is subject to negotiation. But is this unfortunate message an unavoidable conclusion of our way of […]
Listen
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It is very difficult to reduce a religion into a series of terse statements, particularly when that religion is Judaism. Jews have been called the “People of the Book,” a term which was first intended as pejorative. Ironically, Jews have never considered this sobriquet to be an insult; if anything, their only question is, which […]
The Unbearable Heaviness of Being Moshe
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New books should represent new opportunities, new beginnings. The book of Devarim, however, is not a case in point. It begins with a retrospective, telling the sad tale of how we had arrived at that particular place and time. It recounts forfeited opportunities, and tells the story of how defeat eclipsed victory. The march to […]
The Holy Lands of Israel
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This week’s essay is in in loving memory of my uncle Jack Ribnick (Yaakov Eliezer Ben Nechemia Mayer) Z”L God spoke to Moshe, telling him to give the Israelites instructions and say to them: ‘You are coming to the land known as Canaan; this is the land that you will inherit, the Land of Canaan and […]
Word
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The winds of war were blowing; the Israelites were to prepare to fulfill the word of God and take vengeance against the Midianites. The Moav/Midian incursion had left 24,000 Jews dead, and the time had come to settle the score. Moreover, the plan of attack employed by the Moavites and Midianites had introduced idolatrous practices […]
Like a Princess
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Last week’s parashah ended in chaos: Promiscuity, idolatry, and death had somehow overrun the Israelite camp. To be sure, throughout the forty years in the desert there had been episodes of spiritual backsliding, but this episode was different, both in character and in scope: Twenty-four thousand people lost their lives as a result of this […]
A Question of Propriety
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Something had changed. These were not the people who had left Egypt; that generation had already perished. This was a new generation, either born or raised in freedom. The only leader they had known was Moshe; Pharaoh was a name from the past, someone their parents told them about on Passover. This generation would be […]
An Enigma Wrapped in a Riddle
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In a sense, the Israelites had been lulled into a false sense of security. As they moved from one disaster to the next, Moshe was always there to put out fires. Together with his brother Aharon, Moshe had guided the nation from slavery to freedom, from Mount Sinai to the cusp of the Land of […]
You Say You Want a Revolution
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The time was ripe for a power grab: The frightful report of the spies and the unequivocal sentence handed down were still ringing in the peoples’ ears; the Promised Land never seemed farther away. The strategy was simple: Foment unrest, and stage a takeover. The tactics employed were cynical: Collect the disheartened, and create the […]
Seeing Through Wine-Colored Lenses
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It was not supposed to happen this way: A group of scouts was sent to see the Promised Land, presumably to bring back a glowing report that would set the Israelites  on their way into the Land of Israel. Instead, the report was devastating, and the people took it in the worst possible way. Rather […]