Thursday, August 11th 2022   |

Commentaries

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...

Person in the Parsha: Shavuot

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

A MESSAGE FOR THE ENTIRE TEAM

All beginning students of Torah face this obstacle: in their original, the primary texts of our Jewish tradition have no punctuation. There are neither commas nor periods in the Torah scroll, the Sefer Torah. There are no question marks, nor are there indications of where one paragraph ends and another begins in standard editions of the Talmud.

In...

Off the Pulpit: At Home in Torah

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

Why does the Torah begin with a bet?The qu estion receives many answers in Jewish tradition.One co mmon answer is that since bet is the second letter, it shows there is no true beginning to study; it is an everlasting enterprise. Elie Wiesel answers it this way: “Bet is a house [both because of its shape and because it begins the word Bayit, home]…

The Book...

Person in the Parsha: Bechukotai

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

THE WALKING TOUR

I am the type of person who has always believed that the only way to learn about something important is to buy a book about it. For example, it has been my good fortune to have traveled widely in my life and to have visited many interesting cities. Invariably, I bought guidebooks before each such visit, with detailed itineraries describing...

Off the Pulpit: Your own two feet

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

“For God brought about the victory. Once Beowulf had struggled to his feet, the holy and omniscient ruler of the sky easily settled the issue in favor of the right.”

What is striking about those lines from the renowned medieval poem “Beowulf” is how they embody the idea that God helps Beowulf once the warrior struggles to his feet. Beowulf must initiate his own salvation. God...