The episode of the spies has rightly puzzled commentators throughout the centuries. How could they have got it so wrong? The land, they said, was as Moses had promised. It was indeed “flowing with milk and honey.” But conquering it was impossible. “The people who live there are powerful, and the cities fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of the giant there … We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are … All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the titans there … We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and so we seemed in theirs” (Numbers 13:28-33).
Have you noticed that we seem to have preferential memory for the unpleasant things that happen to us? Try as we might to provide our children with good experiences and positive memories, it is the memories that evoke fear, pain, sadness, etc. seem to be the ones that stand out.
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According to the Ramban, the verse "your foes who dwell upon it will be desolate" (Vayikra 26:32) is a partial blessing within the curse that guarantees through all generations that the Land of Israel will not receive any foreign nation in place of her true indigenous people.
In both the company of fellow Jews and in the presence of gentiles, we must be relentlessly careful to conduct ourselves with morality, consideration towards others and honest financial dealings. A Jew must always be conscious that the Hebrew Nation represents HaShem in this world and that Israel is a direct reflection of His Divine Ideal.
It is simply not the same to put on tefillin or keep kashrut or observe Shabbat in the Diaspora as in Israel. The Torah is the constitution of a holy people in the holy land. Only in Israel is the fulfillment of the commands a society-building exercise, shaping the contours of a culture as a whole. Only in Israel does the calendar track the rhythms of the Jewish year.
Is it really possible for any self-respecting New Yorker to love parking tickets? I have seen those orange rectangular pieces of paper become the nemesis of society. As a result, those trying to earn a meager living giving out these tickets have become Public Enemy Number One. We view them as “out to get us,” deliberately attempting to make our lives miserable.
Israel must demonstrate confidence in ourselves and an iron determination to defy our antagonists. Mordechai teaches that it is not through appeasement that one achieves peace but rather through strength, self-assurance and unequivocally firm resistance to tyranny and injustice.
I am the best! You are the best too! There were over 600,000 neshamos at Har Sinai, and each one was different. In order to be inspired to grow we must sense the best in ourselves; in order to be a mentch we must see the best in others.
Rav Dov Lior is not only a Torah scholar; he is quintessential Jewish patriot, whose allegiance is pledged fully to God, Torah, the People and the Land. His courage in speaking the truth is undeniably tangible, without regard for any public controversy or dispute.
All responsible leaders in our community have roundly condemned the recent violence in Beit Shemesh and Meah Shearim.
Generally speaking, any food produced by a non-kosher animal is non-kosher. Thus, the egg of a non-kosher bird is not kosher but the egg of a kosher bird, such as a chicken, is kosher. If one comes across an egg and does not know which bird laid it, how does one tell a non-kosher egg from a kosher egg?
It is the hardest passage of all, one that seems to defy understanding. Abraham and Sarah have waited years for a child. G-d has promised them repeatedly that they would have many descendants, as many as the stars of the sky, the dust of the earth, the grains of sand on the seashore. They wait. No child comes.
Rabbi Dan Roth's very first day teaching in yeshiva did not at all go as planned. After learning in kollel for many years in some of the best yeshivos in Israel, Rabbi Roth got his first job teaching in a program for teens-at-risk. A short time before taking the job, he wrote a sefer on modern-day lessons gleaned from the teachings of Pirkei Avos. In the process of writing the book, he realized that he had a talent for making Torah concepts relevant and down-to-earth.
When the Jewish people crossed the Red Sea, successfully escaping the clutches of the Egyptians, Moses gathered the Israelites together and they sang the famous “Az Yashir.” Miriam, Moses’s sister, also assembled the women as they danced with tambourines and sang “shiru lahashem ki gao gaa sus vrochbo rama bayam” – let us sing to Hashem for he is great, horse and chariot he drowned in the sea.”
I have always been disturbed by the fact that while millions upon millions of dollars are poured into the construction and programs of synagogues, the support received by our yeshivas and day schools is so meager in comparison.
As an educator, I was always intrigued with the trip on which my high school students would embark in their junior or senior year. The “March of the Living” allows a student to experience in a small way the immense tragedy our people endured during the Holocaust.
The first reference to Mount Sinai in the Torah occurs when our teacher Moses witnessed a strange phenomenon there. As he was shepherding his sheep he glanced up at the mountain and saw a thorn bush that was burning without being consumed by the fire.
Diversity in Judaism is common in our history and liturgy. One can visit many synagogues and observe that the order of davening and the text of siddur vary from shul to shul. When I'm in Israel I often attend the services in a Sephardi shul where the prayers and the sequence of taking the Torah from the ark and replacing it are vastly different from what I'm accustomed to.
Herzl was dead within a year, but his prophetic vision established him as the Father of modern Zionism.
Though the worship of God and our underlying relationship with Him are implicit in this text, the stress is on our relationship with people.
When I study of the experiences of King David or the challenges of our gedolim when they were young, I gain more respect and admiration for them.
QUESTION: I recently read your Daf Yomi column (JP, June 13, 2003), where you cited the Chikrei Lev's comments regarding the standard of 'Sinai' in Torah study, that is, having extensive knowledge of the Torah. He stated that this is not as important today because the Mishna has been recorded.My question is: Was the Mishna not recorded in Rashi's time? Commenting on the first verse in Parashat Bechukotai, Rashi notes (based on Sifra) that "Im bechukotai tele'chu" means"shetih'yu amelim baTorah." In yeshiva I was taught that this means that one must toil with much effort to learn and understand Torah. If so, how can one not be expected to have anextensive knowledge and yet be amel baTorah?Zvi Kirschner(Via Email)
QUESTION: Just the other day I was heading toward Connecticut on the New England Thruway. There was stop and go traffic. Eventually I saw the reason for the logjam. There had been a horrible accident involving a number of vehicles in one of the opposite lanes, with numerous ambulances and police present. In our direction of traffic we were all rubbernecking. I have no idea what the condition of those involved in the accident was. But I was wondering whether we should all say HaGomel whenever we arrive at home in one piece.I am told that you discussed this problem or a similar one before. Is it possible to elaborate on this topic again?Moshe JacobowitzBrooklyn, NY
QUESTION: Is it halachically permissible to pack on Shabbat or Yom Tov for a trip to be taken on the next day (Motza'ei Shabbat or Motza'ei Hachag)?Moishe Halberstam, Esq.Brooklyn, NY