Saturday, July 2nd 2022   |

Commentaries

Person in the Parsha: Chukat

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“DISCOVERING OUR MORTALITY”

It was at a house of mourning, and she was saying something that I had heard many times before. In fact, I had said it myself when I was sitting shiva for my own mother.

She is a friend of long-standing, and a member of my former congregation. I hope that I am not being unchivalrous by describing her as late middle-aged....

Off the Pulpit: How To Feel Bad About Yourself

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

Is believing the best about yourself always a virtue?

The greatest religious figures are often those most convinced of their inadequacies. A man once approached A.J. Heschel and said “I love my family, I pay my taxes, I keep a good job. What do I need to repent for? I am a pretty good person.” Heschel replied, “Good for you, but the same is not true...

Person in the Parsha: Korach

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

TWO JEWS, THREE OPINIONS

We all nod our heads in agreement when we hear the phrase, “Two Jews, three opinions.” We similarly chuckle when we hear the anecdote about the Jew who was discovered after years of living alone on a desert island. His rescuers noticed that he had built two huts aside from the one he lived in....

Off the Pulpit: Secrets

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

The Talmud records a peculiar blessing: “One who sees a crowd of Israelites should say, ‘Blessed be God who knows secrets.'”

Why do we bless God’s knowledge of secrets? Because when we look at a crowd of people, we see just that — a crowd, an undifferentiated group of faces. The Talmud teaches that God sees into each individual heart, its aspirations, its fears, its secrets.

...

Person in the Parsha: Shelach

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

CALEB AT THE CROSSROADS

Imagine standing at a crossroads. We have all been there. We have all experienced moments in our life’s journey when we had to make a crucial choice and decide whether to proceed along one road or along another. (Except for Yogi Berra, of course, who famously said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”)

We...

Off the Pulpit: Invisible Footsteps

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

Sometimes we know things not by their presence but by their effects. In building the periodic table, Medeleyev filled in gaps based on what he had already figured out. Certain elements, though he had not actually found them, had to be there given what he had already discovered.

Similarly, for early astronomers, the orbit of Uranus could only be made consistent by assuming the existence of...

Person in the Parsha: Beha’alotecha

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

I don’t usually disagree publicly with lecturers, particularly when they are expressing opinions which are mostly consistent with my own. But there was one time when I felt that I had to speak up and object to one of the speaker’s expressions.

It was at a lecture on the subject of self-absorption. The speaker characterized the time we live in as “the age of narcissism.”...

Off the Pulpit: White Lies

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

Are you allowed to lie? The Bible tells us to “stay far from falsehood” (Ex. 23:7). But the Talmud records an argument between the school of Hillel and Shammai concerning whether one should praise a bride as beautiful if she is, well, less than beautiful. The school of Shammai says no, and that of Hillel says yes, but the Hillelites try to escape the contradiction by...

Person in the Parsha: Naso

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

THE MOOD OF THE PRIESTLY BLESSING

I am sure that you have a most favorite activity. I know that I do.

I am also sure that you have a least favorite activity, as I do.

My most favorite activity is visiting Israel. One of the experiences I especially cherish during my visits to Israel is...

Off the Pulpit: Turning Away

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

On either side of the ark in the Temple were two keruvim, delicately carved golden angels. In the book of Exodus (25:20), we are told that they are to face each other. In the book of 2 Chronicles (3:13), it is recorded that they faced away from each other.

No gesture is more powerful than turning toward or turning away. There are moments in our lives...