Are You Sure You Wouldn’t Have Worshiped the Golden Calf?
The Torah is based on the spot-on premise that basic features of the human condition remain constant throughout history
Bar Kappara’s ‘Off-Color’ Jokes
By using humor, he could bring home what simple study in a beit midrash could not.
What Happens When We Forget About God?
Apparently, God is only actively engaged when man is conscious of Him
Avraham’s Admirable Failures
If I am indeed correct that each of the four descriptions of Yitzchak represents a different aspect of the test and Avraham is only congratulated for two, could it not be that Avraham did not pass the two aspects of the test that went unmentioned?
Anger, Procrastination, and Elul
Some people get angry at the Jewish calendar. It takes away their ability to decide when they want to rejoice, when they want to...
When a Student must Teach the Teacher
“I have learned much from my teachers and even more from my friends, but from my students I have learned most of all” (Taanit 7a).
When Torah Knowledge and Wisdom are Separated
The most outstanding Torah scholar may not be the greatest mentor and visa-versa. It is wonderful (and convenient) when we can find someone, who is “one-stop shopping.” Yet the story of Rav Kahana shows us that life is not always so tidy.
They Called Him, Rebbe
The Lethal Challenge of Learning Torah from Others
The pernicious difficulty of keeping self-love in check and not having it warp the way in which we see others is brought to our attention in the story of R. Elazar
Does the Year Begin in Nissan or Tishrei?
Wishing all a Happy New Year-but when?
Redeeming Relevance: Achashverosh and the Evil of Neutrality
When it came to the “Jewish question,” Achashverosh seemed to be completely neutral. So how could he be as bad as the man who destroyed the Temple?
Redeeming Relevance: Praying Responsibly
The goal is not to have God do what we want, but rather to do what He wants and thereby sanctify Him in the world. Often, that is accomplished by praying, but sometimes it is better accomplished by not praying – we are to look to halacha to tell us which situation is which
The Holy Brigand and Rabbi Yochanan’s New Beit Midrash
The alchemy of teshuva: Turning lead into GOLD.
Redeeming Relevance: A People Chosen for Opposition
While there is plenty of room for cooperation and interaction with other larger cultures, it is important for the Jewish people to remember that a key role God wants it to play is to often stand on the other side and follow our own path.
Redeeming Relevance: Forgiving Made Easy
Almost always, the reason we are not willing to forgive offenses against us has almost nothing to do with the offense, and everything to do with it being done to us. Once we can internalize this, we can move to a God’s-eye perspective and forgive others more easily.
Redeeming Relevance: Moshe’s Sober Consolation
And so Moshe’s ultimate message here, according to Netziv, may be that even if the curses are fulfilled, that is no reason to abandon God.
Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Shoftim: Self-Knowledge is not Self-Understanding
One might think that there's nothing we understand better in the world than ourselves--after all, we spend every waking minute with ourselves. But is this self-understanding really the case?
Redeeming Relevance: When the Torah’s Answer to Good, Bad or Indifferent is Yes, Yes...
In other words, it is not our strength at all that gives us the victory, but the workings of God.
How Should We Listen?…
As if Our Life Depended on it
Redeeming Relevance: How to – and how not to – Challenge the Status Quo
There is an important teaching here for those who seek to have legitimate grievances addressed.
Redeeming Relevance: Chukat: The 38 Year Black Hole
Precisely because the work that the second-generation did take place was less dramatic and required human participation that it created its own more organic resilience, making it a better model
Redeeming Relevance: Shelach: 10+2 Tribes
Why twelve? If what is really important is the number ten, God could have theoretically created anywhere from eleven to nineteen tribes, and we would still have had decision-making with a majority of ten...
Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Nasso: Sotah and the Metaphor of Monogamy
I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to suggest that the whole reason God created man, male and female, was for us to better understand our relationship with Him.
Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Behar: The Plea of a Forsaken Mitzvah
Since the commandments are all meant to engender some positive effect; when a commandment is not practiced, that effect will not be attained either.
Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Kedoshim: Self-Awareness, Modernity and Holiness
Living at the height of European Romanticism and on the cusp of Nietzsche’s writings – which both contributed to a new much more pronounced interest in the individual – Netziv surely intuited the need to address the legitimate aspects of trends making inroads upon his students.
Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Shemini: Why there is NO Problem with Collective Punishment
--and Why We Avoid it Nonetheless
Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Tzav: The Temple’s Sophistication and the Chumrot of Pesach
Although there is a strong basis for our propensity to be more stringent on Pesach than we are during the rest of the year, we should not turn that into a blanket attitude in which stringency is always followed, regardless of the other values at stake
Redeeming Relevance: Women, Beauty and Religion
The easiest way out of my problem would be to say that the Mishkan was designed based on people’s need to be impressed
Redeeming Relevance: Acting in a World of Doubt
Yet, if Mordechai teaches us that doubt is no reason for inaction, it is Esther that teaches us that it is actually a reason for even more effort
Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Mishpatim: The Torah’s Superior Strategy for Brotherly Love
But the Torah was given to real people, for whom love of the outsider would not always be so obvious.