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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Divrei Torah

Insights Into Shavuot

My late relative, Rav Avrohom Genechovsky, zt”l, shared with me a wonderful insight that has relevant applicability to Shavuot. He quoted the Gemara in Brachot that says, “Afilu sichat chulin shel talmidei chachamim tzrichim limud, even from the ordinary talk of talmidei chachamim one can learn.” He gave a drash on the Gemara

The Undying Influence

The weeks following Pesach bring us to the time of Kabbalat HaTorah. Just before receiving the Torah, the pasuk (Yisro 19:17) says that all of klal Yisrael stood “b’tachtit hehar.” The simple meaning of this phrase is that they stood at the foot of the mountain, but the literal translation implies that they stood underneath

Role Play, or Playing the Role?

When referring to the Leviim, the Torah uses an interesting word that appears in a few of those references: “And I have hereby taken the Leviim from among (mitoch) the bnei Yisrael… (Bamidbar 3:12); “Take the Leviim from among (mitoch) bnei Yisrael… (Beha’alotcha 8:6); “For they are given over, given over to me from

Experiencing Shavuot as We Spiral Through Time

We experience life through the medium of time. Each new moment brings with it new opportunities as we move along the spectrum of time. Amidst the constantly moving wave of time, the chagim are specific, unique points in time that carry with them special energy. Each holiday is a chance to tap into the theme inherent to that point

Strive for Greatness? Strive for Balance

I. Average

Often, we are rightly told to strive for greatness. But that doesn’t mean we have to act like we are better than everyone else. If anything, it means we must strive for normalcy in order to achieve greatness. Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky used to say that it’s a mitzvah to be

Reaffirming the Covenant at Sinai: A Truly Inclusive Event

From the time I was a young boy I have been taught that everyone was present when we received the Torah at Mount Sinai, even the unborn souls. I have always accepted this teaching to include even me, born in 1972. But from where do we derive this miraculous idea, that we were all present? And who else was included?

Yom Yerushalayim: A City of Magnets

The Book of Bereishit portrays three vastly different visits to Yerushalayim. Avraham first encounters this city after intervening in a raging world war. Years later, an acquiescent Avraham and his son voyage to the mountain to execute the Divine command and perform the akeidah. Finally, Yaakov flees his murderous brother and

Responding to the Charge of ‘Holiness,’ Part II

Last time we focused on the mandate of “Kedoshim tihiyu, ki kadosh ani Hashem Elokeichem,You shall be holy for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” In this article, we will focus on the shared belief that the overarching mitzvah of “v’ahavta l’rei’acha kamocha, Love your neighbor as You Love Yourself,” is the key to

Remembering Hashem’s Beneficial Control

Many times when I drive from a meeting or an errand and head for a quick stop at the grocery store, I find myself pulling up in front of my own house instead. I seem to have an automatic “home” setting in my brain, unless I really focus.

The midrash at the start of Parshas Bechukosai, which

Can We Agree to Disagree?

We can all think of that communal disagreement that just won’t go away. Is that popular tune someone likes to use for lecha dodi really appropriate for the synagogue? Should kashrut-certifying agencies be using a “DE” stamp? Should a school focus on teaching content or text skills? And then of course there are the hot-button

Mental Health Awareness

Earlier this month, Michaela Levit, a 19-year-old lone Israeli soldier from Miami, sadly committed suicide. She was the third Israeli lone soldier to commit suicide this year. Her suicide made the news because of her unique circumstances, However, there are many more suicides, nervous breakdowns and substance abuse issues that take

Ameilut in Torah: The Only Fuel for Protection

Parshat Bechukotai

Let’s get right into it. Last week we left off with the question of how to keep our Jewish values and commitment to Torah with unwavering confidence, as well as how to instill our loved ones with that same strength. Just to summarize, we explained that even if one fully