Rabbi Wayne Allen

Hard to Convince – Beshallah 5783

As a rabbinical student, I learned that should anyone generate a novel understanding of the text (hiddush, in Hebrew), two questions need be asked: first, is this novel understanding of the text correct? and second, why has no one thought of this before? These two...

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Leftist Antisemitism

One of the most telling comments of the pre-eminent medieval commentator, Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzhak of Troyes appears at the very beginning of the book of Genesis. Citing a question raised by an earlier midrashic authority, RaShI (the acronym by which he is known) asks...

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The Finger of God – Veara 5783

Pharaoh remained unimpressed. Turning a staff into a snake was a feat easily repeated by Egyptian magicians (Exodus 7:11).  And even after Moses’ snake swallowed up the magically crated ones, Pharaoh was unmoved. Turning water into blood fared no better. Pharaoh’s...

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Watch Your Tone – VaYiggash 5783

Those familiar with the chanting of the Torah – not just its study – are aware of a specialized notational system called “trope.” Trope allows for the cantillation of the text, modulation of voice over longer passages, and the proper accenting of words. The Talmud...

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The Hunger Problem – Mikketz 5783

  Apparent inconsistencies are fertile ground for Biblical commentary. Consider, for example, the words of Joseph in Genesis 42:16. In order to test the truthfulness of his brothers’ story, Joseph decides that nine of the ten shall remain imprisoned and one will...

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The Pits – VaYeshev 5783

Joseph cast into the pit (Genesis 37:24) is the transition point of the narrative between the original plan of ten of his brothers to kill him and the secret plan of Reuben to rescue him. But in the context of the Bible as a whole, the act of casting a victim into a...

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Words to Live By

What lies behind you and what lies ahead of you pales in comparison to what lies inside you.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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