Use It or Lose It – Ki Tavo 5783

The peroration that dominates chapter 28 in the book of Deuteronomy is followed by a passage at the beginning of chapter 29 that features a mysterious verse. Given the central focus of the consequences of loyalty and disloyalty to God that is chapter 28, chapter 29...

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Stairway to Heaven? Hardly – VaYetze 5783

Late in 1971, the band Led Zeppelin released one of the most successful rock songs of all time: Stairway to Heaven. Written by Robert Plant, many have contended that the song had some nefarious, sinister implications. A more sober and circumspect analysis concluded...

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The Hate They Will Not Dissipate

The statistics are grim. In Canada, B’nai Brith reported the number of anti-Semitic incidents recorded in 2021 was 2,799, marking the fourth successive year in which the 2,000 mark was exceeded. “If you are Jewish, you are more likely to be a victim of a hate crime by...

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True Victory – Hol HaMo’ed Sukkot 5782

The midrash (Pesiqta d’Rav Kahana, ed. Mandelbaum, Vol. II, p. 406) identifies seven specific commandments related to the celebration of Sukkot: the taking of the lulav, etrog, myrtles, and willows, the building of the sukkah, and the joyful celebration of the...

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Postcards From the Edge – Shavu’ot 5780

For seven years, the Olson family of Turtle Lake, North Dakota (population 581) received postcards from ‘Jim.’ About three times a year ‘Jim’ sent brief messages describing his adventures. One card showed a picture of the Eiffel Tower with the words: “Was in Paris and...

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Making Years Count – VaYehi 5780

Often the difference between great writing and good writing is word choice. Using just the right word can make the ordinary extraordinary. Harold Evans, in his latest book, Do I Make Myself Clear,? describes how Franklin Delano Roosevelt agonized over each and every...

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The Scandal of Hatred – Toldot 5780

The Torah reports how upset Esav was about the blessing he received. Yet it is hard to fathom why. After all, Isaac tells him that he will be rich beyond his imagination (Gen 27:39) and he will be doing the work he loves and at which he excels (v.40). All of this does...

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Tzav 5777 Shabbat HaGadol

In his classic two-volume study of ancient Israel, Roland de Vaux, noted archaeologist and Biblical scholar, proposes a theory of sacrifice in his analysis of Israel’s religious institutions. His theory consists of three main ideas. These ideas have impacted...

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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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