Wednesday, June 16th 2021   |

Commentaries

Person in the Parsha: Bamidbar

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“HOW IS BAMIDBAR RELEVANT TODAY?“

Although the rest of the world refers to the Five Books of Moses as the Pentateuch, traditional Jews refer to it as the Chumash, stressing that it is comprised of five very different sections. The themes of each book differ fundamentally from each other. Genesis, Bereshit, deals with the creation of the world and...

Off the Pulpit: Self-criticism

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

One of the lessons I have learned over decades in the rabbinate is how hard it is to criticize one’s own. People who will criticize other countries, or the other party, will not turn a disapproving eye on their own. On social media there is an unending parade of disparagement, but almost all of it disparages the side the author opposes anyway. Endless rhetorical bombs are...

Person in the Parsha: Behar-Bechukotai

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“BULLYING“

It is an old word, and it describes a behavior that has been around since the very beginning of history. Yet the word seems to me to be used more and more frequently these days, and the behavior it describes has gotten out of control.

The word is “bullying,” and it refers to a behavior that...

Off the Pulpit: Don’t Trouble Yourself

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

There is a beautiful story told of the Brisker Rav, Reb Hayyim Halevy Soloveitchik. Once a man arrived late at night in Brisk. All the houses were dark save one so he knocked at the door. He was greeted warmly, and the host prepared a meal for him. Looking around the man saw that the house was filled with sefarim, sacred books, and surmised that the...

Person in the Parsha: Emor

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“LIKE ALL OTHER BOYS”

The custom is fairly prevalent nowadays, but it was not a common practice thirty years ago when my friend raised his sons. He would seek out especially pious rabbis, generally quite elderly ones, to request that they bless his children.

In keeping with tradition, these rabbis would place a hand upon the head...

Off the Pulpit: Why do some people hate Jews?

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

Hatred of Jews is the most intractable and sustained hatred in human history. Moreover, it is a hatred for which many reasons have been given by the haters, all of them demonstrably untrue.

Jews have been hated when they were poor and when they were rich; when they were communists and when they were capitalists; when they were stateless and when they had a state; when they...

Person in the Parsha: Acharei Mot/Kedoshim

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

 “HOLINESS: A DEFINITION”

He never returned phone calls. He certainly never returned e-mails. He rarely smiled.

He had very sophisticated tastes in wine and fine liquor. A seven-course gourmet dinner with a wine pairing at each course was almost an everyday occurrence for him.

He had the vocabulary of a sailor and seemed to...

Off the Pulpit: The Great Innovation

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

The Roman historian Tacitus relates that when Pompey and his troops entered the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem in 63 BCE, they found it “untenanted.” It was a mystery to them to find nothing inside the sacred shrine of the Jews. They assumed there would be a statues, but as the Jewish historian Josephus wrote: “in the sanctuary stood nothing whatever.”

Judaism declared even to...

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...