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Moses made the right turn after all. In his song at the end of the Torah he spoke of ‘precious things of “Givat HaOlam.” The hidden meaning of “precious things” seems to be oil. Not olive oil, but black gold.
This Shabbat marks the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Meir Kahane, may Hashem avenge his murder. To honor his memory, our next two blogs will feature essays he wrote for The Jewish Press, which appear in the incomparably thought-provoking collection of his articles, “Beyond Words.” May his memory be for a blessing.
Historically, viewed against the background of extensive and unapologetic terrorist perfidy in both Gaza and Lebanon, Israel has been innocent of any alleged disproportionality. All combatants, including all insurgents in Gaza and Lebanon, are bound to comply with the law of war of international law.
As the year draws to a close we have the book of Deuteronomy before us week after week, reviewing many of the halachos and reminding us of our harrowing trek through the wilderness. Moshe Rabbeinu is the stern narrator, guiding us to the very edge of the Promised Land, a final step he will never take. He pleads with God to let him enter the Land to no avail. Finally, “Moses, servant of Hashem, died there, in the land of Moab, by the mouth of Hashem. And He buried him in the depression, in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor, and no one knows his burial place to this day. (Deut. 34: 5).” We complete our reading of the Torah with tears in our eyes for our faithful teacher, prophet and leader, whose life seems to end in angst and frustration. What was the inner life of our brave and tenacious leader?
G-d blessed Facebook’s CEO with this poignant lesson. Right as we approach the Day of Judgment, followed by times of Repentance, and the final celebration of Atonement, He blesses all of Israel with this lesson as well.
There is a fascinating detail in the passage about the king in this week’s parshah. The text says that, “When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he must write for himself a copy of this Torah on a scroll before the levitical priests” (Deuteronomy 17:18). He must “read it all the days of his life” so that he will be God-fearing and never break Torah law. But there is also another reason: so that he will “not begin to feel superior to his brethren” (Kaplan translation), “so that his heart be not haughty over his brothers” (Robert Alter). The king had to have humility. The highest in the land should not feel that he is the highest in the land.
Near the end of Parshas Va’etchanan, so inconspicuously that we can sometimes miss it, is a statement with such far-reaching implications that it challenges the impression that has prevailed thus far in the Torah, giving an entirely new complexion to the biblical image of the people Israel:
Earlier this year I was presenting my survey of Jewish art, “A Jewish Art Primer,” in a West Hartford, Connecticut synagogue and during the intermission a local artist, David Holzman, introduced himself to me. He relayed his rich and fascinating artistic background and then produced a portfolio of 8 black and white prints that he generously gave to me as a gift. As a tantalizing glimpse into recent work, they are truly amazing and I would like to share them with you.
Seven men – including 4 rabbis - happened upon by an Israeli paratrooper in a closed military zone on the Hermon mountains on Monday, were on a mission of their own – to safeguard the sanctity of the Jews of the city of Metulla.
In my Nov. 26 op-ed article, "The Clarifying Truths of Chanukah," I explored how clarity, purity and joy bring us close to God and to living a meaningful life. If they are so essential, their potential must exist within our spiritual DNA. I suggest it does; we inherited that potential from our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
QUESTION: Why is the hoopoe (lapwing) bird, known in the Bible as the duchifat, considered unclean (see Leviticus 11:19 and Deuteronomy 14:18)? It does not seem to be a bird of prey or a carrion- eating bird. There's a purpose for everything G-d commanded us and I would like to understand the reason for this law.Robert A. WeilerBlue Grass, IA
QUESTION: I do not understand the practice of blowing so many extra blasts of the shofar, as is done in most synagogues on Rosh Hashana. Is that not in violation of the command bal tosif, as stated in Deuteronomy (13:1), "You shall not add to [G-d's commandments]"?Elliot Solomon(Via E-Mail)