Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Divrei Torah

Are We There Yet?

Beha’alotcha 5776

One of the biggest differences between our world and the pre-modern world is the ease of travel. Most of us don’t sweat a trek around the world. I was recently listening to a couple discussing how they traveled from Australia to the U.S. during the period of Counting the

Holding On to Our Self-Confidence and to Membership in the Jewish People

Sermons of the Aruch HaShulchan, Week 6, Sermon 7


This is the last of the sermons not labeled as either for Shabbat HaGadol or Shabbat Shuvah, but it takes up a theme we’ve seen and will see: Torah’s effect on the Jewish people.

One People, One Heart


The Bi-Cultural Day School here in Stamford, Connecticut, has a strong tradition of sending the eighth grade to Israel for a few weeks. For many years this trip took place in February. There was something wonderful about that idea, namely, I got to miss the coldest, snowiest month

Poverty and Exile as Prelude to Wealth

Sermons of the Aruch HaShulchan, Week 4, Sermon 23


We generally see nega’im, the afflictions of tzara’at, as negatives, punishments for some sin. But Rashi to Vayikra 14:34 records a case where a Midrash saw a nega as having a positive



Many years ago, I taught World History. I’ve always loved history. Even as a kid I enjoyed reading books which were heavily concerned with historical issues, and that included fiction. My mother introduced me to historical novels, and I learned, perhaps, more historical facts and

Blogging R’ Lichtenstein: Explaining the Sufferings of Exile

As I noted last time, I have to fit 23 sermons into 21 weeks, and this week seems as good as any to combine two into one. That’s because two of the sermons deal with the sufferings of exile, trying to understand the possible value in the suffering of the Jewish people. This and other sermons suggest that his community struggled with the

Holy Community


Every year when we get to Parshat Kedoshim, we try to define “holy.” I try to say something clever and meaningful, but somehow I usually feel that I’ve missed the mark. “Holy” is one of the things that’s hard to define, even though we do believe that we recognize it

Blogging R’ Lichtenstein: The RA”L I Found

There is a well-known parable of blind men encountering different parts of an elephant. One was at the tail, one at the trunk, one underneath the belly, one at the wide, round foot, and so on. Each came up with a plausible theory based on what he touched, none glimpsing the whole. (In different versions, when they compare notes, they either

There’s Power in the Matzah

See that title up there? I’m not sure most of us pay attention to titles of the articles we read.  Most of the time I try to be cute or attention grabbing in my titles. Once in awhile, I think that I get it right, but this one is very meaningful to me. It’s a quote from Reb Levi Yitzchak Halevy Horowitz (1921-2009), of course he was

Blogging R. Lichtenstein: Sichot for Pesach

As we did for Purim, and because we’ve completed our summaries of RA”L’s published volumes (the two post-Pesach posts before RA”L’s first yahrzeit will be review pieces), we are pausing here to review some of his sichot, written up after the fact by various students (some checked by RA”L, some not).

What’s Big?

Shabbat Hagadol-5776


Rabbi Walk

Last we asked, “What’s new?” This week we must ask, “What’s big?” By the way, we also really like big. I’m not sure what we prefer, new or big. I remember when I was growing

Bitul Chametz: How It Works and What It Does

Blogging R. Lichtenstein, Pesachim, Week Two


The starting point of RA”L’s discussions of bitul, nullifying, chametz is the Gemara’s certainty that a declaration of one’s disinterest in owning chametz suffices to avoid the prohibition of

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