We have here two ways of seeing the same events: one natural, the other supernatural. The supernatural explanation – that the waters stood upright – is immensely powerful, and so it entered Jewish memory. But the natural explanation is no less compelling. The Egyptian strength proved to be their weakness. The weakness of the Israelites became their strength.
Judaism believes it’s a religious duty to teach our children to ask questions.
In this week's parsha, the Torah is preparing the ground for one of its most monumental propositions: In the darkest night, Israel was about to have its greatest encounter with God. Hope was to be born at the very edge of the abyss of despair.
About Batya Chazal said “The Holy One, blessed be He, said to her: ‘Moses was not your son, yet you called him your son. You are not My daughter, but I shall call you My daughter.’ ”
We can only change the world if we can change ourselves. That is why the book of Genesis ends with the story of Joseph and his brothers.
The stories of Judah and of his descendant David tell us that what marks a leader is not necessarily perfect righteousness. It is the ability to admit mistakes, to learn from them and grow from them. The Judah we see at the beginning of the story is not the man we see at the end.
Judaism was and remains unique in its combination of universalism and particularism. We believe that God is the God of all humanity. He created all. He is accessible to all. He cares for all. He has made a covenant with all. Yet there is also a relationship with God that is unique to the Jewish people. It alone has placed its national life under His direct sovereignty
So as we celebrate Chanukah, spare a thought for the real victory, which was not military but spiritual. Jews were the people who valued marriage, the home, and peace between husband and wife, above the highest glory on the battlefield. In Judaism, the light of peace takes precedence over the light of war
Jewish history may seem to signify irretrievable loss, a fate that must be accepted. Jews never believed the evidence because they had something else to set against it – a faith, a trust, an unbreakable hope that proved stronger than historical inevitability
Moral dilemmas are situations in which doing the right thing is not the end of the matter. The conflict may be inherently tragic. Jacob, in this parsha, finds himself trapped in such a conflict: on the one hand, he ought not allow himself to be killed; on the other, he ought not kill someone else; but he must do one or the other.
How do we come to know that “God is in this place”? “By ve’anokhi lo yadati – not knowing the I. ”We sense the “Thou” of the Divine Presence when we move beyond the “I” of egocentricity. Only when we stop thinking about ourselves do we become truly open to the world and the Creator.
Normally we strive to individuate ourselves by differentiating ourselves from our parents. Isaac was not like this. He was content to be a link in the chain of generations, faithful to what his father had started. Isaac represents the faith of persistence, the courage of continuity/
Hidden beneath the surface of Parshat Chayei Sarah, for example, is another story, alluded to only in a series of hints. Here are three clues in the text...
Learning to honor G-d by honoring those made in His image: Humankind.
Abraham gave birth to a new nation whose greatness consisted precisely in the ability to live by that voice and create something new in the history of mankind. “Go for yourself ” – believe in what you can become.
Recently, an entirely new scientific basis has been given to morality from two surprising directions: neo-Darwinism and the branch of mathematics known as Games theory. As we will see, the discovery is intimately related to the story of Noah and the covenant made between G-d and humanity after the Flood.
At the opening of the Torah, at the very beginning of creation, is foreshadowed the Jewish doctrine of revelation: that God reveals Himself to humanity not in the sun, the stars, the wind or the storm but in and through words – sacred words that make us co-partners with God in the work of redemption.
And so Moses dies, alone on a mountain with God as he had been all those years ago when, as a shepherd...
So, as Moses faced his own life’s end, what was there left to do? The book of Devarim contains and constitutes the answer.
The terms of Jewish history were about to shift from Divine initiative to human initiative. This is what Moses was preparing the Israelites for in the last month of his life. This is the epic significance of Nitzavim
The setting: Jerusalem some twenty centuries ago. The occasion: bringing first fruits to the Temple. Here is the scene as the Mishnah describes it. Throughout Israel, villagers would gather in the nearest of 24 regional centres. There, overnight, they would sleep in the open air. The next morning, the leader would summon the people with words from the book of Jeremiah (31:5): “Arise and let us go up to Zion, to the House of the Lord our God.”
Never be in too much of a rush to stop and come to the aid of someone in need of help. Rarely, if ever, will you better invest your time. It may take a moment but its effect may last a lifetime
If having a king is a good thing, why does God say that it means that the people are rejecting Him? If it is a bad thing, why does God tell Samuel to give the people what they want even if it is not what God would wish them to want?
Remarkably, despite the exiles and horrors of history, Jews did not see themselves as victims. This is the message Moses imparts throughout sefer Devarim: Never define yourself as a victim