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? Wednesday, December 12, 2018


Redeeming Relevance: It’s Not Always the Thought that Counts

Given Reuven's less-than-altruistic motivations, the Torah could have given us a much more negative spin on what occurred. But it doesn’t. That is because the bottom line is that Reuven did the right thing. And that is what the Torah cares about the most.

Redeeming Relevance: When a Brother is Not

Understanding relationships leading to understanding the parsha

Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Chayei Sarah: Avraham’s Canaanite Wife

Avraham showed himself to be a mentor for all peoples that God created. If he had previously kept his distance, he would now go to the other extreme of marrying a Canaanite woman, and fathering and raising her children.

Why God “Protects” the Tree of Life

Why is the status or identity of this seemingly central tree not mentioned before Adam sinned. Was it permitted at that time or forbidden?

Redeeming Relevance: Rosh Hashanah: What was Avraham Supposed to do for an Encore?

No matter how hard we work on ourselves, we can never be totally prepared for the challenges ahead. And that is actually a good thing. Not only would life be less interesting, but a great deal of its meaning would otherwise be taken away. As Rebbe Nachman said, “If you are not a better person tomorrow than you are today, what need have you for a tomorrow?”

Redeeming Relevance: Ki Tetzeh: Remember Not to Keep People Waiting

Since not saying lashon hara is easier said than done, here is something to help you: Just remember what happened to Miriam!”

Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Re’eh: Spilling Blood and Spilling Water

In view of the seeming sanctity that the Torah imparts to blood, why would it tell us to spill animal blood indiscriminately?

Reading Between the Lines

The Torah knows that we are likely to understand the journey in the desert as essentially one long trip. And so it tries to make us stop and realize that there were actually two journeys and not just one. The first ended with the death of Aharon; the second began with resistance from the Canaanite king

Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Chukat: How to Make Peace

History repeats itself: Israel extends the hand of peace to a neighbor and is rebuffed

Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Bhaalotekha

Constitutional democracy is a better form of spiritual government than either anarchy or totalitarianism. G-d wanted intellectual diversity and as close to universal accountability as possible.

Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Nasso: The Sin of the Suspicious Husband

Parshat Nasso and the issue of the sotah and coming face-to-face with our own responsibility and not just throw it on others.

Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Bechukotai: What is Your Net Worth?

Hoe the Torah establishes the value of the individual--and how that ensures humility.

Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Metzora: Flesh

That man is more than flesh is obvious to the Torah, but the Torah’s task is to make it obvious to man.

Redeeming Relevance: The Art of Seeing God When We Don’t

The retelling of the exodus at Pesach is meant to deepen our faith; and the excerpt from the Mishnah towards the beginning of the Haggadah presents a model for how to do that. It teaches us to follow the example of R. Elazar

Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Vayikra: Happy Sins

Obviously, sin and happy are not words that go together well. But, says Rabbi Yochanan, when people admit to and atone for their sins, that is cause for happiness.

Redeeming Relevance: Did Moshe Decide to Break the Tablets?

Paradoxically, with Moshe’s desperate act, something positive happened. When the people realized what Moshe was responding to, it shook them to their foundations.

Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Bo: When the Lights GO OFF

How did the Jews find grace in the eyes of the Egyptians, receiving gifts from their Egyptian neighbors as they left, when they were perceived as the source of all the plagues and destruction?

Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Shemot: When to Bring the Family and What to Share on...

In our day of media over-reporting, we often think that we should know everything about our leaders. Perhaps it is better to know too little than too much. For when it comes to ethics, the Torah spares no one in reporting what falls short of the mark.

Redeeming Relevance: What was so Bad about Ya’akov’s Life?

If Ya’akov’s words to Pharaoh were just an exercise in self-mortification about what was too late to change, there would be little to learn from them. But if, as is more likely, they represented part of a strategy of how to continue improving, there is actually a great deal we can learn from them.

Redeeming Relevance: Vayeshev: Yosef’s Field of Dreams

Yosef’s struggle with his brothers was ideological, whether we are to influence the world by example from the private and safe existence of our tent (the brothers), or whether take more risks by going outside and being heavily involved with the rest of civilization (Yosef)

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