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Showing posts from February, 2019

Coping with Insecurity - Ki Tisa 5779 - February 22, 2019

This week’s parasha, Ki Tisa, describes the sin of the Golden Calf.

For forty days after Hashem’s revelation at Mount Sinai, b'nei yisrael had been anxiously awaiting Moshe’s return. The Torah says, “and the nation saw that Moshe delayed (boshesh) to come down from the mountain.”

There is a well-known Midrash on this verse. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: What is the significance of the Torah using the word boshesh – ‘And the nation saw that Moshe was boshesh, coming late’? Do not read the word as boshesh – coming late – rather – ba’u shesh – six hours of the day came (and went). The Midrash continues: When Moshe ascended to heaven, he told b’nei yisrael that he would return at the end of 40 days at the beginning of the sixth hour. B’nei yisrael thought that the day that he ascended was to be included in the count of 40 days, when in fact, Moshe said 40 complete days. He had ascended on the seventh of Sivan and he intended to return on the seventeenth of Tammuz. On the fortieth day,…

The Power of Positive Self-Concept - Parsha Tetzaveh 5779 - February 15, 2019

Parashat Tetzaveh presents the design of the bigde kehuna – the Priestly Garments. Tetzaveh is the only parasha of Moshe’s lifetime – four of five books of the Torah – that does not mention Moshe’s name. Clearly the focus of the parasha is all on Moshe’s brother Aharon and his descendants.

Moshe Rabbenu’s role in the nation is clear. Hashem chose Moshe as His representative to the nation to bring them the Torah and to convey Hashem’s prophetic message. He announced the plagues to Pharoh in Egypt. Moshe Rabbenu was G-d’s messenger to the Jewish people.

What was Aharon’s role in the nation?
Aharon taught Torah to the people. He offered the nation’s sacrifices in the mishkan. Malbim explains that Hashem chose Aharon to be the nation’s messenger in serving Hashem and in teaching Torah. Thus, Moshe and Aharon stood shoulder-to-shoulder. Moshe was Hashem’s representative to the people and Aharon was the people’s representative to Hashem.

What qualified Aharon to be the appropriate selection…

Halacha Transforms Us - Parsha Terumah 5779 - February 8, 2019

Thisweek’s parasha, Parashat Terumah introduces the laws related to building the mishkan – the Tabernacle. The Torah precisely defines the size, shape and materials of each vessel that is placed in the mishkan – including the shulchan (table), the menorah (candelabra), the aron (ark) and the mizbe’ach (altar). The length, width and height of each item are explicated and the particulars of the construction of each item is defined and delimited by the halacha – G-d’s command.

The level of precision that the Torah describes in reference to the mishkan is noteworthy. Even a synagogue, a mikdash me’at – a miniature Temple – does not require such precision. What message can we glean from the Torah’s rich description of the parameters of the mishkan?

Let us consider this question in relation to a dispute among our Sages.

Although the Torah places the command to build the mishkan prior to the incident of the Golden Calf, there is dispute between our chachamim regarding when Hashem actually ga…

Building a Just Society - Parashat Mishpatim 5779 - February 1, 2019

Parashat Mishpatim continues the presentation of the mitzvot that were revealed to b'nei yisrael at Mount Sinai which began in last week’s parasha. One shared topic between the two parashiyot is the primacy of creating a judicial system with integrity.
The Torah admonishes us not to testify as a group with evil people. The Torah admonishes judges to not show favoritism to a poor person. The Torah forbids judges to accept bribes.

In last week’s parasha, the Torah records that Yitro suggests four qualities that a judge should have: accomplished, G-d-fearing, committed to truth and money-despising. Basing himself on the Mechilta, Rashi elaborates on the third quality – commitment to truth. Rashi explains that judges must be trust-worthy people, and that, because it is reasonable to rely on them generally, people will listen to the judgments that they render.

The first part of Rashi’s comment is easily understood – a judge must be trust-worthy. Trust-worthiness is a measure of a perso…