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Friday, March 24, 2017

Divrei Torah

The Yoke’s On Us

We all have received blessings at one time or another. We have certainly received compliments. Over the course of time, we learn that sometimes the compliments are clearly flattering. But occasionally, ambiguous statements are made to us, leaving us confused and unable to determine with certainty whether we are being complimented or

Parshat Vayechi: The Lessons of Shimon and Levi’s Bracha

This Shabbos we conclude the book of Bereishit, which culminates with the resolution of the story of Yosef and his brothers. Four rather involved parshiot deal with this story and its many twists and turns.

Yaakov and his beloved Yosef are reunited after so many years of suffering and uncertainty. Yaakov

Wagons, Calves and Responsibility

I have been blessed with many fine teachers. She was one of the best.

Her name was Mrs. Lachmann. I no longer recall her first name. She taught an advanced course in world literature at the college I attended, and she insisted that we call her Mrs. Lachmann, although, as I later discovered, she had

Extending the Nes of Chanukah to Rosh Chodesh Tevet and Beyond

Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone for the very first time, and then suddenly you see them all over town the next few weeks?

The same thing happened to me over Chanukah this year, except in the realm of Torah!

I was privileged to hear a pre-holiday

The First Job Interview

I have a vivid memory of my first job interview. It was for a position as a counselor in a summer camp. The only preparation that I can now recall took the form of words of encouragement from my mother, of blessed memory. She told me not to be nervous, to be polite, modest, and respectful, and to be sure to be well-groomed and

Man Plans, God Laughs

You thought your life would run smoothly, right? We all do. Then, something comes off, tragic or happy, which proves to us that life is not smooth at all, and probably is not supposed to be.

Somehow, each of us has a personal script which envisions what our lives will be like in the near and even distant

Jacob’s Strategy: A Model for Jewish Leadership?

Regular readers of this column on the weekly Torah portion are familiar with my style. They know that I usually focus upon some early personal memory and connect it to the parsha. Within each parsha, I select a less-known incident, or relatively minor personality, for reflection and elaboration. I rarely deal with the major issues of the

The Gates of Tears

Many years ago, when I was studying for my doctorate in psychology, we had a number of fairly strict requirements in addition to our courses in psychology. For example, we were expected to possess a reading knowledge of two foreign languages, and Hebrew was then not one of them. We were also required to study statistics and to take several

Parshat Toldot: Strength, Patience and Hope

When I was a young boy I had two distinct images of a strong man. One was of Charles Atlas. Do you remember him? If you do, you are no longer a youngster. Pictures of Charles Atlas appeared on the rear cover of the comic books that I voraciously read as a child. His muscular body was presented as the model of strength, and all of

Better the Servant Than the Student

“You can’t find decent help these days!” This is a common complaint heard in middle-class homes, particularly in Jewish kitchens during the season of preparations for Passover. Happily, my wife and I have been blessed, over the years, with some excellent domestic help. Usually, they were African-American women who were not only

Women with a Voice

Note from the author: This column, originally published in 2014, speaks directly to issues that have arisen this week regarding the right of women to serve in positions of religious leadership.

When Avraham charges his servant to find a wife for Yitzchak, the servant asks a strange question:

Dystopia

I never thought that I would begin a discussion of the weekly Torah portion by referring to a person who was canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church. Never, that is, until I sat down to write this week’s Person in the Parsha column.

The person in question is Sir Thomas More (1478-1535),