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The Crucible
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The great tragedy of Moshe’s life was the fact that he did not complete his mission; he would not bring the people to the Promised Land. In fact, we might say that this is actually two tragedies: On a personal level, it is almost inconceivable that Moshe, our greatest leader and teacher, our staunchest defender […]
It’s About Time
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This week’s Torah reading is the first in a new book, but for the most part it is a book that tells an old story, a book whose very existence is born of tragedy. Moshe is close to death; he will not cross over the Jordan River to the Land of Israel, and he opens […]
A Lush Land
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After countless delays, punishments and disappointments, as the Jews draw tantalizingly close to the Promised Land, a strange request is made by the tribes of Reuven and Gad: They said, ‘If you would grant us a favor, let this land be given to us as our permanent property, and do not bring us across the […]
Moshe’s Mantle
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As the Israelites move closer to entering the Land of Israel, issues of inheritance come to the fore. This is true regarding the Land itself, on the one hand, but also in terms of leadership on the other hand. Moshe, who will not enter the Land of Israel, raises the question: Who will be the […]
The Road Not Taken
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The events recounted in Parashat Balak took place millennia ago, but so many of the elements of the story are all too familiar to the modern reader. Although the actual conquest of the Land of Israel had not yet begun, there had already been a few military skirmishes between the Israelites and the tribes of […]
Déjà Vu – All Over Again?
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It seems like déjà vu: a lack of resources leads to complaints, which brings about Divine intercession – and so it goes, again and again. But this time is different. This time, instead of the people suffering for their impatience and insolence, it is Moshe and Aharon who are punished. Remarkably, they are accused of […]
A Jealous Guy
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There was once a man who was blessed in many ways: he was smart, he was wealthy and he came from a very good family. His name was Korah. From the outside it looked like he had everything going for him, but something went wrong: there was a tragic malfunction and his beautiful life crumbled […]
A Divine Rendezvous
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Group dynamics are interesting and complex.Individuals who come from different places,geographically or emotionally, see the same situation in different ways. In the episode of the so-called spies, this phenomenon repeats itself over and over. The first instance may be seen in the divergent reports delivered by the twelve emissaries who are sent to scout the […]
The Seven Books
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One God, two Tablets, three patriarchs, four matriarchs, and five books of the Torah; that is how the song from the Haggadah goes, as every Jewish child knows. The corpus of our Written Law has long been identified as the Five Books of Moshe, the Humash (derived from the Hebrew word hamesh, meaning five) or […]
The Sin of Asceticism
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There are times in a person’s life that holiness becomes a conscious goal, a state of mind and body that he or she actively pursues,a desideratum. However, the quest to achieve a higher plane of existence, to attain spiritual elevation,is not always a simple or straightforward path. The desire for spirituality can lead us along […]