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Purim And The Joy Of Life

12 Adar 5773 – February 21, 2013
In the eighth year of Achashveirosh’s rule, on the thirteenth of Adar, every Jewish man, woman and child was to be slaughtered. Young or old, wealthy or poor, they were counted as one, and on that fateful day the Jewish people would cease to be. According to the ways of the world, and according to the natural course of events, that is what should have happened.

Predestination And Human Effort

5 Adar 5773 – February 14, 2013
Moshe Rabbeinu was charged with the construction of the Mishkan, the dwelling place of Hashem in this world. While the components of the structure are physically complex, the kavannas – the specific intentions required during the process of building it – are even more intricate.

The Proper Way to Hold a Mitzvah

4 Adar 5773 – February 13, 2013
If one holds the object of a mitzvah upside down he has not fulfilled the mitzvah.

Shabbos Mevorchim Adar – ‘Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B’Simcha’

28 Shevat 5773 – February 7, 2013
On Shabbos Parshas Shekalim we bentch Rosh Chodesh Adar, the month that concludes the lunar year cycle and marks the last of the six winter months. As Rosh Chodesh falls on Yom Rishon and Yom Sheni (Sunday and Monday), Shabbos Mevorchim coincides with erev Rosh Chodesh.

Parshat Mishpatim

Besides being the final arbiter of difficult legal cases and the licensing agency for Kohanim, the Sanhedrin was also responsible for the maintenance of the religious well-being of Bnei Yisrael.

Must A Judge Return A Bribe?

One of the many halachos written in this week’s parshah is the prohibition for a judge to accept a bribe. The Torah testifies that bribery works and can blind the eyes of the righteous; thus it is forbidden to accept any form of bribery – even for one to judge correctly.

Our Torah Heritage

The Das Zakainim teaches us that "before them" means before the Jews and not before the gentiles. The Torah is for the Jewish people exclusively.

Shabbos – A Day With Hashem: Greeting Shabbos – Our Bride

21 Shevat 5773 – January 31, 2013
The soft strands of music waft through the air as the kallah, dressed in stunning white, is led by her joyful parents to the chuppah. But something is strange here – where is the chosson?

Must One Honor His In-Laws?

At the beginning of this week’s parshah the Torah says that when Yisro, Moshe Rabbeinu’s father-in-law, joined Bnei Yisrael in the desert, one “ish” (man) bowed to the other and kissed him.

Feeling The Miracles

The Torah tells us that Yisro heard about the wonders Hashem had brought, and he joined the Jewish people. Rashi explains that while Yisro heard about all of the miracles, the two that actually moved him were the splitting of the sea and the war with Amalek. The others were impressive, but these alone actually affected him.

Beshalach: Music Musings and Dance Moves

14 Shevat 5773 – January 25, 2013
Have you ever been to a Sefardi shul - or a Sefardi simcha of any kind? There’s something special about the Sefardi personality, something which Ashkenazim don’t quite possess.

People Believe What They Want To Believe

14 Shevat 5773 – January 24, 2013
Egypt, the country that bragged that no slave had ever escaped its land, stood by helplessly as the Chosen Nation triumphantly left. Yet even at this moment, Pharaoh sent spies along to follow them. After three days, his agents reported back that the Jews had veered off course. Pharaoh called out to his people, “Let us reclaim that which is ours,” and he led them in pursuit.

How Many Must Hear The Torah Reading?

In this week’s parshah the Torah informs us that after Bnei Yisrael miraculously crossed the yam suf, they traveled in the desert without water for three days. The Gemara in Baba Kama 82a expounds on this pasuk and explains that the word “water” is a reference to Torah. So the pasuk is actually telling us that Bnei Yisrael went three days without Torah – and they wilted.

Parshas Beshalach – Shabbos Shira: ‘Worthy Hatred’

Reb Dovid Blinder was a noted scholar and pedagogue in Russia in the late 1800s. He was called ‘Blinder’ (blind man) because he never lifted his head to look outside his immediate area. Among his other achievements, he had the distinction of teaching Rav Chaim Brisker in his youth.

When Did Makkas Bechoros Occur?

6 Shevat 5773 – January 16, 2013
There is a contradiction in the pesukim as to when makkas bechoros occurred. The pasuk in this week’s parshah says, “vayehi bachatzos halailah, v’Hashem hikah kol bechor b’eretz Mitzrayim… – and at chatzos of the night, Hashem hit every firstborn in the land of Mitzrayim…” (Shemos 12:29). This pasuk states that makkas bechoros occurred by night. The implication from the pasuk in Bamidbar 8:17 is that makkas bechoros occurred by day, for the pasuk says: “b’yom hakosi kol bechor… -- on the day that I hit all of the firstborn…”

Parshat Bo: Creation of Self

4 Shevat 5773 – January 15, 2013
Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rebbetzin Shira Smiles.

Do You Have To Hear Yourself Daven?

29 Tevet 5773 – January 10, 2013
After each of the makkos, Moshe Rabbeinu had to daven to Hashem to stop the makkah. After the makkah of frogs, the pasuk says “…vayitzak Moshe el Hashem al devar hatzefardi’im asher sam l’pharoh – and Moshe cried out to Hashem regarding the frogs that he inflicted on Pharaoh” (Shemos 8:8). This is the only makkah in which we find that the Torah uses the word “vayitzak [cried out]” in reference to how Moshe davened to Hashem. By the other makkos, the Torah uses the word “vayetar.” The Sifsei Chachamim asks the question that he says was bothering many people. He asks why the Torah changes its wording by the makkah of the frogs to the word “vayitzak.”

Being Like Hashem

After months of rebellion, Pharaoh finally admitted he was wrong. The Dos Zakainim explains that the plague of barad moved Pharaoh more than any other. And it was because of one factor.

Parshat Shemot

23 Tevet 5773 – January 4, 2013
General George Marshall became the U.S. Army’s Chief of Staff in 1939. With a keen understanding that the United States would eventually be drawn into the war that had just erupted in Europe, he set out to rebuild and modernize the army. This was no easy task. Besides the normal difficulties inherent in such an undertaking, Marshall had to do it against the wishes of many influential isolationists. Even President Roosevelt was reluctant to upset the country’s isolationists for fear that battling them would undermine his New Deal.

Your Middos Are Killing You

Yosef, his brothers, and their entire generation had passed on. A new era was beginning in Mitzrayim, and with it came a new attitude. When the Jews had first entered the land they were received as celebrated guests. After all, they were brothers of the great Yosef who had saved the nation. That sense of appreciation was now gone. No longer were the Jews respected and revered, no longer were they welcome. They had become a thorn in the side of the Mitzrim.

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