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Rabbi Weinreb’s Parasha Column, Metzora and Shabbat HaGadol
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“Pinkus the Peddler” He was a character straight out of the novels of Charles Dickens. Scholars have long found Dickens’ attitude toward Jews problematic. The character Fagin in the novel Oliver Twist is certainly a negative stereotype, but many are unaware of the character named Riah in Dickens’ last completed novel, Our Mutual Friend. Riah […]
Rabbi Weinreb’s Parasha Column, Vayikra
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“Purim in Hell” The Jewish calendar is punctuated by many happy occasions. The Torah requires us to celebrate three major festivals—Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot—and to do so joyously. Our Sages instituted two additional festive holidays, Chanukah and Purim. Without question, it is this latter holiday that evokes the greatest exhibitions of joy and gaiety. Already […]
Rabbi Weinreb’s Parasha Column, Pekudei
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“A Special Spirituality” Classes that I lead on this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Pekudei (Exodus 38:21-40:38), often evoke questions about the essential nature of religion and spirituality. My students generally agree that these two terms, “religion” and “spirituality,” beg for precise definitions. Seldom, however, does the class reach a consensus about the nature of those […]
Rabbi Weinreb’s Parasha Column, Ki Tisa
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  “The Hindu Princess and the Golden Calf” She was a Hindu princess. She was one of the brightest students in my graduate school class. We studied psychology, and she went on to return to her country and become a psychotherapist of world renown. For our purposes, I shall refer to her as Streena. We […]
Rabbi Weinreb’s Parasha Column, Tetzaveh
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“Receiving is Giving” There are lessons that one learns in life in the most unusual places. This certainly holds true for practical worldly matters. What is surprising is that even quite lofty spiritual lessons can be learned in settings far removed from the religious school classroom or the yeshiva study hall. Let me tell you […]
Rabbi Weinreb’s Parasha Column, Terumah
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“My House, and His House” There is a well-known joke that is told about the Jews which I find particularly sad. The joke tells of a group of explorers who find a Jew who has been stranded on a desert island for years. As he takes them around the island and shows them how he […]
Rabbi Weinreb’s Parsha Column, Mishpatim
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“Truth Be Told” I once taught a class whose purpose it was to introduce Midrashic literature to an audience of very intelligent individuals who previously had only limited experience with primary Jewish texts. It was an introductory course, in which I attempted to expose the students to several simple yet illustrative passages from the vast […]
Rabbi Weinreb’s Parasha Column, Yitro
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“I Know vs. Now I Know” Assembling complicated gadgets is generally facilitated by the printed instructions that the factory provides. Occasionally, however, there are no instructions, either because of the manufacturer’s negligence or because of his assumption that there is no one out there dumb enough not to be able to figure out how to […]
Rabbi Weinreb’s Parsha Column, Beshalach
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“Simple Belief, Genuine Belief” There was a time in my college days when I seriously considered majoring in philosophy. The rabbinic training program in the yeshiva that I attended did not include systematic study of the philosophy of religion. We focused instead upon the intensive study of Talmud and the Codes of Jewish Law. Our […]
Rabbi Weinreb’s Parasha Column, Bo
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“Let’s Talk It Over” I have long believed that all conflicts between people could be settled if the parties to the dispute would agree to simply sit down together and talk. There are, of course, times when I have come to question this belief. I often wonder whether it is not merely a vain fantasy […]