Sunday, January 26, 2020

Divrei Torah

The Shining: Pekudei 5779

There are movie stars who transmit this feeling that they’re really nice people. Sadly, that often means that they’re just good actors. Chris Pratt from “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies and the reboot of the “Jurassic Park” series is one such person, but in his case, I think that he’s truly a nice guy. He was on Stephen

Pikudei: Why Nisan, why Yitzchak and why Moshe?

Generally, we do not delay the performance of a mitzvah. For this reason, parshat Pikudei is problematic. In this parsha, Hashem informs Moshe that the final assembly of the Mishkan would take place on the first day of Nisan. In Shemot (52:2), the Midrash Rabbah teaches us that the Mishkan was ready to be assembled some three and a half

The Definitions of Good People

With the upcoming Rosh Chodesh Adar Sheni (which means Purim and then Pesach), I want to mention, “As If We Were There,” a book I published three years ago. It’s a set of daily readings, starting with Rosh Chodesh Nisan taking us through the end of Pesach which I honestly believe will reshape a reader’s experience of the holiday and

Follow the Crowd: Ki Tisa 5779

The late author Michael Crichton was famous for many things, including being the tallest writer in captivity at 2.06m (6 foot 9). But his greatest claim to fame was taking cutting-edge technology and making it absolutely terrifying, like space exploration in the Andromeda

R. Arama Finishes Parshat Bereishit

We ended last time with R. Arama’s idea that Hashem turned toward Hevel’s sacrifice and ignored Kayin’s to make a point about avoiding overemphasis on the physical.

Kayin’s annoyance at the lesson shows why it was necessary. R. Arama thinks Kayin resented both the idea that he could not indulge

Brother, Can You Spare a… 

Terumah - 5779

Baruch Hashem! Throughout my professional life in Jewish education and youth work, I was never relied upon to raise funds. There was always someone else responsible to build the buildings, keep the

Terumah — Comprehending a Lack of Comprehension

In parshas Trumah, technically speaking, Moshe is not told to make the Menorah. In the parashah, when Hashem’s instructs to Moshe concerning the Menorah, the Torah uses the word “Ta’aseh, it shall be made,” (Shemot 25:31). Rashi explains that because Moshe had difficulty understanding how

The Story of Adam, Chava and the Serpent in Each of Our Lives: Spouses and Their Roles, Immediate and Ultimate

Before Adam named Chavah (in the next sha’ar, the tenth, Rabbi Arama will focus on naming as a particularly human endeavor), he had called her “ishah, woman,” because she had been taken from “ish, man.” Now, Adam says she is called Chavah, the mother of all life, a role in which he plays little

The Serpent, Without, Within, and Sin

Rabbi Arama spends the ninth sha’ar discussing the lure of sin, in relation to what we lose when we yield to the lures of an adulterous woman (literally and as a metaphor for sin): The true nature of the sin that Chavah brought on Adam, and the serpent brought on the two of them. In short, he intends to

Moshe as Father and Gentile Intersect

The long-awaited moment has finally arrived…almost. For more than 2,000 years, humanity drifted aimlessly in a religious void. Torah had yet to descend to this world, and the entire universe was flawed. The chosen people—who had been designated to receive the Torah—were submerged in a brutal bondage

Bo: Table Manners

Ahh, the honeymoon is over. All the wonderful stories about bravery and devotion, miracles and love are giving way to Halacha. From the beginning of Breishit until the 12th chapter of Shmot, we have story after story which stir our imaginations and

Marriage: Where Like Meets Like

Last time, Rabbi Arama argued that the Gemara treated the pairing of body and spirit as a “first marriage.” What we commonly call marriage, he thought the Gemara referred to this as a

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