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Bountiful Blessings
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Blessings play a central role in Jewish life. Many Jews are willing to travel far distances to receive words of blessing from a holy person. Some arrive at a wedding eagerly anticipating receiving a blessing from the bride or groom. During prayer services in Eretz Yisrael, the cohanim regularly stand to bless the congregation. Unscripted […]
The Light of Shabbos
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Parashas Vayakhel returns to the description of the Mishkan’s construction that was introduced in parashios Terumah and Tetzaveh. At the beginning of our parashah, before Moshe Rabbeinu begins directing Bnei Yisrael about collecting the materials for the Mishkan, a seemingly superfluous verse stands out. Moshe suddenly mentions the mitzvah of Shabbos. “Six days work shall […]
Bringing Home the Heart
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Parashas Ki Sisa describes one of the most dramatic moments in the history of the Jewish people: Cheit Ha’Eigel (the Sin of the Golden Calf). To fully appreciate the gravity of this sin, we must understand the whole incident in context. Let us review the crescendo of events that led to this climax. After years […]
In Balance
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Life is a balancing act. Throughout our lives, conflicting forces compete for dominance. Love and fear, speech and silence, revelation and concealment, physicality and spirituality, peace and war… Situations arise daily that require us to decide between the opposing sides. The solutions are never simple, because different circumstances call for a different combination of ingredients. […]
Give and Take
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Parashas Terumah opens with Hashem’s instructions to collect donations for the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). “Daber el Bnei Yisrael veyikchu li terumah mei’eis kol ish asher yidvenu libo tikchu es terumasi (Speak to the Children of Israel and they shall take for Me a donation. From every man whose heart volunteers him you shall […]
Nothing but the Truth
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Parashas Mishpatim has a fitting name. This parashah is full of descriptions of mishpatim (laws); some laws govern interpersonal relationships, while others relate to people and property. Several rules are specific to the judicial system, regulating the just and truthful conduct of the judges themselves. The Degel Machaneh Ephrayim articulates[1] the following principle: the Torah […]
True Desires
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Hashem is our Creator. He fashioned every one of us, and therefore understands both our great potential and our human limitations. He wrote the Torah especially for us, as our guidebook for life. Therefore, we can assume that we are capable of accomplishing every mitzvah that He instructed us to do. Parashas Yisro contains the […]
Noteworthy Notes
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A familiar section of parashas Beshalach is Shiras HaYam (the Song of the Sea). These famous verses were sung by the Jewish people after they witnessed the great miracles of the sea splitting and their Egyptian pursuers drowning. Our Sages instituted these verses in our daily tefillah (prayer) of Pesukei DeZimra (verses of singing praise). […]
Servants’ Servants or Hashem’s Servants?
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The dramatic end of Jewish enslavement in Egypt is described in Parashas Bo. We read a vivid account of the grand finale of the ten plagues, the Egyptians’ punishment. Moshe Rabbeinu begins to instruct the people about their final days in Egypt. Freedom is so close, Bnei Yisrael can almost taste it. But as they […]
Learning to Appreciate
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All over the world, children are taught to say thank you. “Say thank you to Grandma for the present she brought you.” “Your friend gave you a candy? What do you say?” Gratitude is universally accepted as proper manners. It’s an important element of a healthy, functioning society. But when our Torah discusses hakaras hatov […]