Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah

בס”ד Destruction and Disrespect One of the most tragically enigmatic stories in the Torah takes place this Shabbat. In the midst of the sacrificial festivities in the tabernacle, two of Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, tragically perish. The Torah does not elaborate much with regard to the cause of their...

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Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah

בס”ד The Goal of Freedom Most Sephardic synagogues read the biblical book of the “Song of Songs”, known in Hebrew as “Shir Hashirim”, every Friday evening, prior to Kabbalat Shabbat. Authored by King Solomon, the “Song of Songs” is an impassioned love poem replete with explicit erotic imagery. According to...

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Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah

בס”ד The Purpose of a Mitzvah Our parashah is called “Tzav”, which is from the same root as the word “mitzvah.” In this context, it is noteworthy to note that one of the most prevalent religious misconceptions of Jewish-Americans is that the word “mitzvah” means “a good deed.” A mitzvah...

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Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah

בס”ד The Art of Giving  Throughout history, different thinkers offered different views of what they see as the supreme good and value in life. For Sigmund Freud, man is chiefly an erotic being, driven by his libido. For Nietzsche, man is the “power-seeking-animal”, and “the will to power” is the...

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Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah

בס”ד The Imperative of Work Sigmund Freud teaches us that we achieve our well-being through our work and intimate relationships. The conclusion of the book of Exodus this Shabbat is a case in point with regard to the former. Coming out of Egypt, from a state of political bondage and...

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Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah

  בס”ד Where is Moses? Our Torah portion this week (Tetzave), does not mention Moses by name even once. This is certainly a striking oddity, since Moses is mentioned by name throughout the entire Torah, from the story of his birth in the portion of Shemot, until the final portion...

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Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah

בס”ד Humility and Grandeur: The Legacy of Menachem Begin   The 25th anniversary of the passing of Menachem Begin was commemorated in Israel this week. Begin, Israel’s sixth Prime Minister was the most religious leader Israel had known. In 1977, shortly after having been elected, Begin traveled to the United...

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Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah

  בס”ד The Way Jews Do Torah In order to understand Judaism, you must read the Torah portion with the rabbinic commentaries. A famous and clear case in point appears in this week’s parashah, as the text states: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand...

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Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah

בס”ד The Universality of Judaism   Parashat Yitro includes the most spiritually sublime event in Jewish history — the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. And — imagine this — it’s named after a non-Jew, Jethro the Midianite. Jethro experimented with all forms of idolatrous practices, until he finally embraced monotheism. It is striking that...

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