Tuesday, April 13th 2021   |

Commentaries

Person in the Parsha: Tazria-Metzora

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB 

“GOING AT IT ALONE“

“No man is an island.” “It takes a village.” These are just some of the clichés that are used to convey the importance of social groups, of the realization that people cannot “go at it alone.”

But just as it is vital that each of us learns that we are ultimately limited...

Off the Pulpit: The First Mitzvah and the Last

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

In Maimonides’ listing of the 613 commandments, the first is believing in God. The last is a king not amassing great personal wealth.

In a certain way, those two commandments, one positive and one negative, are intimately related to one another. Believing in God entails believing that one has limits. Much of Judaism reinforces this idea. When reciting the Amidah according to Jewish law, the regular worshipper bows at...

Person in the Parsha: Shemini

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

AND AARON WAS SILENT

He was an old man, and in many ways came from a very different world than I. And yet he taught me more than anyone else ever did. One of the things he taught me was that no one suffers as much as a parent who loses a child.

He delivered this lesson to me on a wintry day...

Off the Pulpit: The perils of reentry

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

Mitzrayim in Hebrew means narrow. We think of narrowness as a purely negative trait. Yet there are times when tighter is better: when we are held for example. “Snug” is another word for narrow – because sometimes to be confined is to feel safe and to be released is to feel scared.

The Israelites as they left the desert were scared. They were dizzy with freedom. Why did they build...

Off the Pulpit: No – With the rope around their necks

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

In April of 1903 the first pogrom broke out in Kishinev, shocking the Jewish world and causing death and destruction. Increasingly it seemed to observers that Russian Jewry was in danger. As a second pogrom in 1905 was to prove, they were tragically correct.

A few weeks after the first pogrom was the sixth Zionist Congress. There the ‘Uganda plan’ was proposed, the idea that Jews could be saved...

Person in the Parsha: Shabbat HaGadol as Independence Day

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB 

I remember well when the age at which one could vote or drink was 21. From my perspective when I was a child, and frankly eager to do these things, it seemed to be an injustice to set the age bar so high. 21 seemed a long way off. 

As time progressed, the age for all of these things...

Off the Pulpit: A friend I never knew

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

Let me tell you about a friend I never knew. He was born in Jerusalem in 1906 and died in 1972. His name was Rabbi Mordechai Hacohen. His father was a renowned kabbalist who led services at the Western Wall for some 50 years.

Rabbi Mordecai Hacohen worked through the Maḥzike Hadas network of institutions in Jerusalem to represent Judaism to Israel’s secular population, especially in...

Person in the Parsha: Vayikra

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB 

“COURTESY AND CONFIDENTIALITY“

“There is no such thing as privacy anymore.”

“There are no secrets anymore.”

These are two complaints that are heard frequently nowadays.

We live in a world of cell phones and e-mails, blogs, Facebook and Twitter. We have no privacy, for almost anyone can reach us wherever we are, whatever...

Off the Pulpit: Stand on your feet

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

In our daily and sabbath prayers we do bow, but nonetheless stand up straight when saying God’s name. In reciting the Amidah, the central prayer of the service, the Shuchan Aruch instructs us not to lean on anything, but to stand before God (O.H. 94:8).

Bowing is a posture of submission and Judaism certainly instructs human beings to submit to God’s will. But submission does not erase...

Person in the Parsha: Vayakhel-Pikudei – Shabbat HaChodesh

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“UNEXPECTED LEADERSHIP LESSONS” 

You have surely noticed the great changes in the way charitable causes do their fundraising these days. There was a time when fundraisers, who often were themselves dignified and prestigious rabbinical figures, knocked on the doors of potential philanthropists in the hope that they would not be turned away. At best, they would be greeted...