Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

Headline: Rashi on Current Events These are difficult times in Israel. Literally every few hours now, a civilian is attacked in broad day light by terrorists. This terror campaign is also backed up by a robust political and diplomatic campaign to delegitimize the very existence of the Jewish State. Israel finds itself between the rock […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

The Strange Procession on Sukkot   Sukkot is a seven-day holiday. On each day of the holiday we march around the synagogue in a circle, while holding the Lulav, Etrog, myrtle and willow in our hands. This ritual is called in Hebrew ‘Hakafot‘ (“encirclings”). Why the encircling procession with the four species in our hands, […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

Time To Rejoice Following the intensity of the High Holy Days, we celebrate Sukkot. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935) sees Sukkot as a healthy counterbalance to the intensity and gravity of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Spiritually, the Sukkot represent G-d’s protection for the Jewish people across the millennia. Historically, Sukkot is also known as […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

The Fast after Rosh Hashanah One of the least known days in the Jewish calendar is the Fast of Gedalya, which is a minor fast day on the third of Tishrey, the day immediately following Rosh Hashanah. What is this fast day about? It is about the assassination of a Jewish leader by the name […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

One Day, Four Different Names Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, has three additional spiritual “nicknames”: ‘Yom Truah’ (a ‘Day of Cheering’, alluding to the shofar blasts), ‘Yom Hazikaron‘ (a ‘Day of Recollection’, during which the Almighty scrutinizes all the deeds and occurrences of the previous year), and ‘Yom Hadin’ (a ‘Day of Cosmic Judgment’). […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

The Dignity of Others Last week we read in the Torah about the importance of treating women captives of war in a humane and compassionate way. This week, an 18 year old woman by the name of Jinan published her memoirs in France. Jinan belongs to the Yazidi minority in Iraq, and she was sold […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

 The Ultimate Battle Lamentably, when wars break out, all-too-often soldiers give free reign to their lower and animalistic drives. In the absence of law enforcement, in the mayhem of the battlefields, terrible crimes are committed against helpless victims, including defenseless women. The opening mitzvah of our parashah commands a Jew who captured a female POW […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

Justice: A Jewish Invention Hitler claimed that “Conscience is a Jewish invention”. He was right. In the words of the great Catholic historian, Paul Johnson: “All the great conceptual discoveries of the human intellect seem obvious and inescapable once they had been revealed, but it requires a special genius to formulate them for the first […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

ISIS in the Torah In the Mishnah, Rabbi ben Bag Bag teaches: “Turn [the Torah], and turn it, delve deeply into it, for everything is to be found in it”. The Torah includes in embryotic form, all conceivable forms of wisdom, and existential guidance. Nothing human is foreign to it. And the Torah does not […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

The Four Levels of Fulfillment   Our parashah includes a celebrated and powerful teaching “Man does not live by bread alone” (Deuteronomy 8:3). Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition, conveys to us the ultimate meaning of this verse, and illuminates for us the human path to a genuine and everlasting sense of fulfillment and inner nourishment. […]

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