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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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

Solipsism and Its Discontents We are reading a very exciting parashah this Shabbat. Every parashah is exciting, but Parashat Va’etchanan is particularly replete with some of the most pivotal and foundational tenets of Jewish spirituality. Our parashah includes, amongst other things, the verse of Shma Yisrael, the first paragraph of the Shma, and the Ten […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

Know Before Whom You Stand The Book of Deuteronomy, the fifth and final book of the Torah, which we start reading this Shabbat, is different from the previous books of the Torah. Its span is only 36 days, the last 36 days of Moses’s life. In it, Moses gives a series of speeches, before he […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

Anger: The Enemy From Within   Moses is fuming with anger in this week’s Torah reading (Numbers 31:13). As a result of his rage, Moses forgets to instruct the people an important law regarding kosher food (Rashi on Numbers 31:21). This is not the first time that Moses “loses it” in the Torah, and as a […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

The Sacred Barbecue Millions of Americans celebrated Independence Day last Saturday by enjoying a festive and delicious barbecue on July 4th. In our parashah, we read about the Divine command to bring forth a daily offering before the Almighty. The Torah describes this offering an “exquisite aroma” (Re’ach Nichoa’ch) to the Almighty. What’s going on here? Is the Torah […]

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