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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 […]
The Theory of Conservation of Holiness
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As the Book of B’midbar begins, the Israelites have been encamped at the foot of Sinai for over a year, and we begin to sense a stirring that will soon become forward movement: First, instructions are given for conducting a census, followed by demarcation of marching formations and tribal flags. The mass of people who […]
There’s No Place Like Home
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Unfortunately, sometimes relationships deteriorate, and when they do, each side has thoughts about the wisdom of continuing, of staying together. Is the heartache worth it, the emotional cost justifiable? What if the relationship in question is between God and His Chosen People? What happens when that relationship deteriorates? If they have a “trial separation,” what […]
Dayenu!
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Modern colloquial Hebrew uses an ancient rabbinicism when asking what two seemingly disparate subjects have to do with one another. The phrase, drawn from comments on the first verse of Parashat B’Har, is:“What does Shmittah have to do with Mount Sinai?” This week’s Torah reading begins with what seems to be superfluous information: “God spoke […]
Teach Your Children
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As is often the case, the name of this week’s parasha is taken from a word in the very first verse:emor- “speak”. In fact, the act of speech appears three times in this verse: And God said to Moshe: Speak to the kohanim, the sons of Aharon, and say to them: Let none [of you] […]