Friday, January 21st 2022   |

Commentaries

Off the Pulpit: Traveling at Home

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

There is nothing like travel to remind us how often proximity makes us intolerant. In another country, when we see a custom that is different from our own, we think, ‘well they have different assumptions and ideas here.’ When we see that our fellow citizens differ from us, we rage against their idiocy, unable to imagine how they could not agree with our own views.

The Rabbis...

Person in the Parsha: Vayechi

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

THE YOKE’S ON US

We all have received blessings at one time or another. We have certainly received compliments. Over the course of time, we learn that sometimes the compliments are clearly flattering. But occasionally, ambiguous statements are made to us, leaving us confused and unable to determine with certainty whether we are being complimented or insulted.

There are statements which leave...

Off the Pulpit: Why don’t we bless one another?

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

At the end of Genesis and the end of the Torah, Jacob and Moses offer extended blessings. We take this in stride – after all, they are biblical titans, and obviously they have both the power and the disposition to bless. Why do we feel so shy then about blessing one another?

It is not because we are inadequate. After all, when you bless someone you...

Person in the Parsha: Vayigash

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“RECONCILIATION“

I have known more than my share of families that are torn by discord. I think most of us, perhaps even all of us, are familiar with families in which brothers and sisters have not spoken to each other in years, sometimes even having forgotten the original reason for the destruction of their relationship. My background and experience...

Off the Pulpit: Two Dreams, Two Miracles, One Meaning

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

Joseph has two dreams – one of sheaves and one of stars. The first is a dream of material and the second a dream of spirit.

We read the Joseph story on Chanukah, which tells of two miracles: the miracle of the military victory and the miracle of the oil. The first is a material miracle – as the Al Hanissim prayer puts it, the strong were...

Person in the Parsha: Miketz

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“JOSEPH, CHANUKAH AND WISDOM“

 Wisdom is the rarest of all important human qualities. Observers of the contemporary state of affairs often remark that wisdom, which is especially necessary in this day and age, is now particularly lacking.

Yet, at the same time, we are told that there is an age in life when most of us...

Off the Pulpit: A Thanksgiving Prayer

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

The first words I say in the morning, in accordance with the Jewish tradition, are Mode Ani, “I thank You.” I walk out of my house and am greeted by the dawn. I step from a house I didn’t build in clothes I did not sew into a day I did not create with a life I was given. Thank you.

With each challenge and difficulty that arises...

Person in the Parsha: Vayashev

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“THE WISDOM OF THE EAST”

There are jokes which are very funny on the surface, but which, upon reflection, can be quite painful and disturbing.

One of them, which was told frequently twenty years ago or more, concerns a matronly woman from the Bronx who seeks to visit a famous guru somewhere in the Far East, perhaps...

Off the Pulpit: More than one way to be a slave

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

Pharaoh “intensified the labor” of the Israelites. The tyrant’s motivation was deeper than random cruelty. In ‘Mesillat Yesharim,’ Path of the Upright, his famed book on ethical conduct, Rabbi Moses Luzzato writes that this was a measure to circumvent the possibility of rebellion. The Israelites would just be too busy to think and plan.

He goes on to say that the same principle applies in our own...

Person in the Parsha: Vayishlach

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB 

“UNHERALDED HEROES”

You don’t hear much about them, and sometimes you don’t even know their names. But they are the true heroes and heroines in our lives and in our times. 

As I hope to demonstrate, it was also true in biblical times that very important characters in the narrative are hardly mentioned, perhaps only...