It’s All About Your Family

Rosh Hashanah, according to the liturgy and the Talmud, is supposed to be, inter alia, about creation writ large, and the creation of humanity in particular. However, the Torah and Haftarah readings for Rosh Hashanah discuss family rupture, rather than creation. We read about a family breakup – the expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael (which […]

Continue reading

It’s Up To You

Our parshah starts with a text which also appears in the Passover Haggadah, and which we read during the Seder night.In this text, we find a peculiar and twofold statement in the Hebrew, which reads: “Arami oved avi.” This three-word proclamation, can be interpreted in two very different ways. One way, the conventional way, is […]

Continue reading

18 Years Later

Yesterday, 18 years ago, the most murderous terror attack in history took place. 2996 souls went to work, and never returned home. There is a cruel and bitter irony in the tragedy of 9/11 uniquely reserved for us Middle-Eastern Jews and immigrants. We who turned our back on the political barbarism of the Middle-East, a […]

Continue reading

Hating Hate

Albert Einstein was one of the greatest scientific minds in history. He was also endowed with a broad philosophical outlook on the entirety of being, which propelled him to contemplate and ponder the sheer enigma and wonderment of existence, and articulate poetic statements about the underlying harmony and structure of the cosmos. Here are three […]

Continue reading

Defeating Defeatism

President Kennedy’s inaugural address is considered to this day to be one of the greatest speeches in the history of American politics. Kennedy did not write this speech all by himself. He was aided by his Jewish speechwriter Ted Sorensen. In his speech, the President spoke about all the great challenges which await not only […]

Continue reading

One Word, Four Perspectives

The name of our parashah is Ekev. Rashi explains that it relates to the word “Akev” – which is Hebrew for heel, and hence alludes to mitzvoth which a person allegorically “steps upon with his heel” (namely, mitzvoth which might seem to us to be marginal or not so important). Rashi’s commentary thus cautions us […]

Continue reading

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 Commandments. At another point […]

Continue reading

Why fast on Tisha be’Av?

We fast on Tisha be’Av in solidarity with those amongst us who were expelled from their homes, or dispossessed. We fast in remembrance of those who were baselessly imprisoned, or mock-executed, or executed in actuality. We fast because we dare not forget those darkest of hours and days, in which we knew not, whether we […]

Continue reading

The Power of Words

Our parshah today starts with the topic of nedarim/vows. The Mishnah dedicated an entire tractate to be issue of vows. Why are vows/oaths so important for us? It is because in Judaism, words are holy and sacred. The world was created by Divine speech, teaches us the opening book of the Pentateuch; the Hebrew alphabet […]

Continue reading