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10 Tishri 5779 -
? Wednesday, September 19, 2018


Giving Thanks

Judaism is “gratitude with attitude.” And this, according to recent scientific research, really is a life-enhancing idea and the source of the command to give thanks is to be found in this week’s parsha

The Call

We can be good at many things, but what gives a life direction and meaning is a sense of mission, of something we are called on to do. That is the significance of the opening word of today’s parsha, Vayikra.

Making Space

For two thousand years in the absence of a Temple its place was taken by the synagogue. Why, if the Torah is timeless, does it devote such space to what was essentially a time-bound structure? The answer is deep and life-transforming,

Arbitration Vs. Litigation

We must never forget that when Aaron was left to lead, the people made a golden calf. But never forget that Moses needed an Aaron to hold the people together. In short, leadership is the capacity to hold together different temperaments, conflicting voices and clashing values.

Prayer: The Priestly Or The Prophetic?

The sedrah of Tetzaveh, in which the name of Moses is missing and the focus is on Aaron, reminds us that our heritage derives from both. Moses is a man of history, of epoch-making events.

The Tabernacle’s Lesson

Parshat Terumah begins the seismic shift from the intense drama of the Exodus, with its wonders and epic events, to the detailed narrative of how the Israelites constructed the Mishkan--the Tabernacle. The Nation begins building its HOME.

Abortion: The Debate Continues

One passage in this week’s sedrah shows how differences in interpretation can lead to, or flow from, profound differences in culture. Ironically, the subject concerned – abortion – remains deeply contentious to this day.

Even Moses Needed Help

By delegating the judicial function downward, Moses would bring ordinary people – with no special prophetic or legal gifts – into the seats of judgment. Precisely because they lacked Moses’s intuitive knowledge of law and justice, they were able to propose equitable solutions.

The Unforgettable Wonders

The genius of the biblical narrative of the crossing of the Reed Sea is that it does not resolve the issue of whether it was a miracle or merely natural, one way or another. It gives us both perspectives-you decide

The Cup Of Hope

Only later did I discover the real significance of Elijah’s cup, and found, as so often, that the truth is no less moving than the stories we learned as children.

Civil Disobedience

How moving it is, therefore, that the first recorded instance of civil disobedience – predating Thoreau by more than three millennia – is the story in this week's parsha of Shifra and Puah, two ordinary women defying Pharaoh in the name of simple humanity.

The White Lie

Is it permitted to tell a white lie? Not only is it permitted to tell a white lie to save a life; it is also permitted to do so for the sake of peace. And we learn this in this week's

Closeness And Distance

For perhaps the first time in his life, Judah came close to his brother Joseph. The irony is, of course, that he did not know it was Joseph.

The Power Of Dreams

From Joseph we learn three principles. The first: Dream dreams. Second: Leaders interpret other people’s dreams. Third: Find a way to implement dreams:

Improbable Endings And The Defeat Of Despair

Parshat Vayeshev has the form of a Greek tragedy. Judaism is the opposite of tragedy. It tells us that every bad fate can be averted and that despair is never justified; today’s curse may be the beginning of tomorrow’s blessing.

The Struggle Of Faith

Why not paint Jacob in more attractive colors? It seems to me that the Torah is delivering, here as elsewhere, an extraordinary message: that if we can truly relate to God as God, in His full transcendence and majesty, then we can relate to humans as humans in all their fallibility.

When The “I” Is Silent

More than prayer changes G-d, it changes us. It lets us see, feel, and know that “G-d is in this place.” That is why, and where, Jacob, established Ma’ariv, the evening prayer.

Esau’s Other Face

Rav Kook believed that just as in the Torah, Jacob and Esau and Isaac and Ishmael were eventually reconciled, so will Judaism, Christianity, and Islam be in future. They would not cease to be different, but they would learn to respect one another.

The World’s Oldest Man

Abraham and Holocaust survivors shared the commitment to first building the future and only then allowing themselves to remember the past. That is what Abraham did in this week’s parsha.

The Space Between Us

Abraham was acting on both occasions--the banishment of Ishmael and the sacrifice of Isaac--against his emotions, his paternal instincts. What is the Torah telling us about the nature of fatherhood?

Yes, There’s Room For Israel

The premise of the Torah is that G-d must be found somewhere in particular if He is to be found everywhere in general. As Shabbat is holy time, Israel is holy space. That is why, in Judaism, religion is tied to a land, and a land is linked to a religion.

The Universality Of Sukkot

On the one hand, Sukkot is the most universalistic of all festivals with the sacrifices brought by the 70 nations; on the other, it is the most particularist of festivals, the festival of a people like no other, whose only protection was its faith in the sheltering wings of the Divine presence.

Yom Kippur Thoughts

Yom Kipper, the Day of Atonement, is the supreme moment of Jewish time, a day of fasting and prayer, introspection and self-judgment. At no...

To Avenge Or Not To Avenge: That Is The Question

The search for perfect justice is not for us, here, now. It is – as Moses taught the Israelites in the great song he sang at the end of his life – something that faith demands we leave to G-d, who alone knows the human heart, who alone knows what is just in a world of conflicting claims, and who will establish perfect justice at a time, and in a way, of His choosing, not ours.

Why Be Jewish

The sages believed with great force that an agreement must be free to be binding. Yet we did not agree to be Jews. We were, most of us, born Jews. We were not there in Moses’ day when the agreement was made. We did not yet exist. How then can we be bound by the covenant?

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