Rabbi D’Var Torah

בס”ד Personal Growth: The Purpose of Human Existence Our parashah contains the tragic story of the twelve spies whom Moses sent out from the desert, in order to check out and survey the Promised Land. Ten of the twelve spies came back to the people with a defeatist attitude. They stated that because the cities […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah

  בס”ד Judaism and the Lust for Life Irving stone called his biography of Vincent van Gogh “The lust for life.” The same title can be used to describe Judaism. Many religions shy away from, and categorically prohibit, some of life’s chief sensuous pleasures as sinful and unworthy. For example, in Islam alcohol is strictly […]

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Rabbi D’Var Torah

בס”ד Fear of G-d Our opening parashah mentions several times the concept of “Yirat HaShem / fear of G-d.” Fear of G-d entails having a sense of basic human decency, of having a conscience. Rashi states that fear of G-d is “something which resides in the privacy of a person’s heart and thought.” We live […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah

בס”ד We Are Not That Special One of the most contentious and least understood Judaic concepts is the notion of ‘chosen-ness’. Every Friday night, as we recite the kiddush, we proclaim before the Almighty that He “chose us and sanctified us from all other nations.” In addition, whenever an individual ascends to the teyva for […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah

בס”ד Israel at 69  In 1948, when Israel was established, there were only six hundred thousand Jews living in the land, most of whom were either Holocaust refugees or Holocaust survivors. Today, Israel’s population exceeds seven million Jews. In the 1950’s, the CIA predicted that Israel will economically implode, as a nation of six hundred […]

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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 death. Rather, it laconically states […]

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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 Rabbi Akiba, we are 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 is not a good deed. […]

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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 driving force of our actions. […]

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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 inner slavery, the Jewish people […]

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