Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah

בס”ד It’s Not About Islam Last October, during Shabbat services, when word got out that a terrorist murdered Jews in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, one of our congregants approached me and asked “It was a Muslim, right?” I answered: “No, he is not a Muslim. He is a white Christian.” Our congregant looked very confused […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah

בס”ד On Human Dignity World War Two was the bloodiest war in the history of civilization, with some fifty million fatalities. When the Allies finally emerged triumphant, Winston Churchill ended his final speech with five words: “Advance Britain, long live freedom”.  There was no mockery of the vanquished in his discourse, let alone rejoicing, at […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah

   בס”ד The Burning of the Notre Dame: A Jewish Spiritual Perspective I used to live at the very heart of the city of Paris, a mere two-minute walk from the Notre Dame Cathedral, which was partially burnt earlier this week. Like many people, I was saddened to see this monumental structure on fire. Reflecting […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah

    בס”ד          Why is this Shabbat Called “Shabbat Hagadol”? The Shabbat before Passover has a special spiritual nickname. It is called “Shabbat Hagadol” / the “Great Shabbat.” Our sages conjecture various reasons as to why this Shabbat is called “Shabbat Hagadol.” The most common sensical reason is that we read a special haftarah/prophetic reading this […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah

   בס”ד Words that Heal, Words that Kill In Judaism, words are holy and sacred. The world was created by Divine speech, teaches us the opening chapter of the Torah.  Words are big in Jewish spirituality. So much so, that the concluding book of the Torah is actually called “Words” (“Devarim”). Moreover, in the opening […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah

בס”ד War & Peace: Forty Years Later As a community, we are commemorating this year the most formative event in the lives of so many of us, the Islamic Revolution in Iran back in 1979. However, this event was not the sole tumultuous historical upheaval, which took place in the Middle East in 1979. The […]

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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 […]

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Rabbi Sessler’s 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 Postcard from Israel Mark Twain famously observed the striking dissonance between the enormity of Israel’s sheer metaphysical significance, and the minuteness of its physical scope, by saying: “Israel has more history than geography.” Being in Israel this week, I was struck once more by the astute nature of this brilliant observation. Ehud Barak […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

בס”ד   Broken Glass The Jewish world commemorates tonight the 80th anniversary of what came to be known historically as “Kristallnacht,” the night of the broken glass, in which the most widespread and lethal pogrom of Nazi Germany against its Jews took place in 1938. When Hannah Arendt, a German-Jewish thinker, wrote about the Holocaust, […]

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