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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Divrei Torah

Probing the Prophets: Parashat Sh’lach

This week’s haftarah is taken from the second perek in Sefer Yehoshua, which actually relates events that took place even before those found in the first chapter. The first chapter includes the commands that Yehoshua gave to B’nai Yisra’el to prepare for entering Eretz Cana’an within three days. The story of the spies sent by the

Probing the Prophets: Parshat Beha’alotcha

The haftarah that we read from Sefer Zecharya this week is one familiar to us, for it serves as the reading for Shabbat Chanukah as well. The obvious connection to both Shabbatot is the theme of menorah, which is the source of our eight-branched chanukiah and the seven-branched menorah of the Mishkan that opens our parsha. The connection

Three Dimensions

Since my childhood, I have been an avid reader. When I first discovered the joy of reading, I read everything I could get my hands on. Even today, my taste in reading is very eclectic. However, there is at least one genre of literature that I seem to avoid.

I do not read science fiction. I trace my

Differentiating Between Good and Evil

Many questions have arisen following the arrest, investigation and indictment of the youths suspected of committing crimes of violence and murder. The most important question is how to prevent adolescents, from upstanding families, from falling into deplorable and destructive behavior.

It is fruitless to

What is the Origin of the Word Midbar?

The giving of the Torah in the midbar gives me the opportunity to address this interesting word.

It is very easy to intuit that the root of this word is D-B-R. (A typical way that Hebrew forms its nouns is by taking a three-letter root and adding M to the front.) But the next step is much

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 exposure to the thought of men like

Is It a Mitzvah to Save a Terrorist in Danger?

Several years ago, a terrorist attempted to kill a Jewish boy in the center of Jerusalem. Thank God, the boy was only slightly wounded. People at the scene chased angrily after the terrorist, seeking revenge. Suddenly, a woman (who happened to work for a charedi newspaper) arrived at the scene and shielded the terrorist with her body, thus

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 of mine, or perhaps just wishful thinking. I have been forced to

On the Shoulders of Giants

“They don’t make them the way they used to.” We have all heard this comment with reference to all sorts of things, usually tools and utensils. Despite all the technological advances from which we benefit, we often are convinced that certain things were of superior quality in the old days. We believe that the old hammer Grandpa once

Hashem’s Repudiation of the Egyptian Deities

With this week’s Parshat Va’eira, the Torah begins to report the 10 plagues that Hashem inflicted on Egypt to convince Pharaoh to release the Israelites from bondage. In Parshat Bo, when Hashem first tells Moshe how He will go about killing the Egyptian first-born in the final and most devastating plague, He adds, “and upon all the

What Is the Meaning of Navi?

This week’s parshah uses the term navi. (See Ex. 7:1). This gives me the opportunity to explore the meaning of this unusual word. In English, the word is usually translated as “prophet,” which has a connotation of someone who is able to predict the future. But what is the root of the Hebrew word navi? And is ability to predict the

Spiritual Time Management

The two old men couldn’t have been more different from each other. Yet, they both taught me the identical life lesson.

The first, a cagey old Irishman, was one of my mentors in the postgraduate psychotherapy training program in which I was enrolled many years ago. He wrote quite a few books in his day,