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Showing posts from January, 2016

Achieving Holiness - Parashat Bo 5776 - January 15, 2016

Parashat Bo presents the first mitzvot given to b’nei yisrael as a nation. To this point in our history, individuals had been given individual mitzvot. Adam was given the mitzvah of peru u’revu, to be fruitful and multiply. Avraham was given the mitzvah of berit milah, circumcision. Ya’akov was given the mitzvah of gid hanasheh, not to eat the thigh sinew.

In Chapter 12 of this week’s parasha, Hashem commands Moshe and Aharon to speak to the children of Israel and command them regarding rosh chodesh – the Jewish calendar – and korban pesach – the Pesach sacrifice. According to Maimonides’ count, there are thirteen specific commandments related to the Pesach sacrifice, including, to slaughter the sacrifice properly, to eat the sacrifice, to eat the sacrifice only roasted, not to leave leftovers of the sacrifice and nine other related commandments.

The mitzvot in this perek were the first mitzvot given to the nation of Israel. They were the first mitzvot that b’nei yisrael experienced in …

Torah Trumps Terror - Parashat Va'era 5776 - January 8, 2016

On Thursday night, the Memphis Jewish community gathered at the JCC to memorialize Ezra Schwartz, z”l, and the many other recent victims of terror. The “Torah Trumps Terror” program was the culmination of the community’s project to learn all of Tanach and featured words of Torah and inspiration from community rabbis and leaders and the lighting of candles in memory of these victims. Thank you to Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein and the Jewish Community Partners for organizing this event. Below are the thoughts that I shared.

Peace is one of the greatest values for the Jew. Daily we say, oseh shalom bimromav hu ya’ase shalom alenu – The One Who makes peace in the heavens may He make peace on us. In Pirke Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, Hillel teaches that one of our greatest leaders and role models, Aaron the High Priest, brother of Moshe, was ohev shalom ve’rodef shalom – he loved peace and he chased after peace. We are taught that in certain cases one can even tell a lie to foster shelom bay…