Torah Thought for the Week

August 17, 2018

What is the difference between spirituality and spiritualism? Spirituality is an awareness of the spirit, of the soul; it is a sensitivity to things beyond the immediate and the material. That’s why some describe the study of spirituality as metaphysics — the study of that which lies beyond the ...

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Who is more important, the Jew or the Jewish people? Is it Reb Yisroel or am Yisroel? In last week's parshah we read the first chapter of the Shema. This week, we read the second. Yet there are so many similarities between the two. In fact, certain sentences are virtually identical. Why would ...

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When the Ten Commandments are repeated in the Torah as part of Moses' review of the Israelites' 40 years in the wilderness, Moses describes how G‑dspoke those words in "a mighty voice that did not end" (Deuteronomy 5:19). One of the explanations offered by Rashi is that Moses is contrasting G‑d's ...

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This week's Parshah (Torah reading) is the Parshah of Pinchas the Zealot: the courageous young priest who stood up against idolatry and immorality and, in the end, saved Israel from a devastating plague. While Pinchas' radical response made him a hero worthy of having a Torah section named after ...

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In honor of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's (of righteous memory) 24th  Yahrtzeit (anniversary of his passing) this coming Saturday the 16th. Excerpts from an address given by Nobel-laureate Elie Wiesel on April 7, 1992, at a congressional dinner held in Washington on the occasion of the Rebbe's 90th ...

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Are you a spectator or a participant? Do you only watch the soccer World Cup, or do you sometimes kick a ball yourself? A few years ago, it was decided to widen the seats at Wimbledon. Apparently, the problem was rather simple—obesity. It appears that the fans who admire the tennis stars in ...

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Karl Marx may have been the pioneer, but many other Jews were also involved in the struggle for communism, particularly in the early days of the Russian revolution. Personally, I don’t think that we have any apologies to make for this phenomenon. Having suffered unbearably under successive ...

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The first kohanim were Aaron (Moses' older brother) and his four sons. Together with their future descendents, they were chosen by G‑d to conduct the service in the Sanctuary as representatives of the entire people of Israel. Due to his sanctified position as a minister serving in G‑d’s Temple, ...

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Who is holy? Is it the mystic in the mountains, the monk in the monastery, or the guru in the garage? Perhaps it is the lady with the crystal ball or the meditating yogi? People today have fallen in love with Spirituality, Mysticism and Kabbalah. Great. I’ve even given a whole series of Kabbalah ...

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Why We Keep Kosher This week's parshah, Shemini, introduces the Torah's dietary laws. Animals must chew their cud and have split hooves to be kosher, fish need fins and scales, and a list of forbidden fowl is enumerated. To those of us in Jewish education, it is a continuing source of ...

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Is it possible to be spiritual and selfish at the same time? Let us have a look at the words of the Torah that shed important light on this question. Vayasa Moshe et ha-am — “Moses made the people journey from the sea.”1 The great miracle had happened. The sea had split and the Egyptian army was ...

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Some people are bulldozers. They move mountains, conquer countries, achieve the seemingly impossible. But then when there are no more mountains to climb, they falter. Routines, maintenance and sustainability are not their strong points. They respond to excitement and challenge, not to the ...

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Some years ago, the United Nations held the International Summit on Sustainable Development, here in Johannesburg. The Summit was a great success. One wonders, though, whether all the wonderful decisions and resolutions that were adopted were ever implemented. In other words, were they themselves ...

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How did the Jews, who had just weeks earlier personally experienced the Revelation at Sinai and the Ten Commandments, justify their demand for an idolatrous golden calf? Well, on the face of it, it did seem as if it might have been a genuine expression of a need for leadership. What was their ...

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A seemingly dubious distinction belongs to this week’s Parshah, Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20–30:10). It is the only reading in the Torah — from the first Parshah of the book of Exodus (in which he is born) until the end of the book of Numbers — where the name of Moses is not mentioned. Tetzaveh’s opening ...

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    And in the beginning, G‑d was homeless, and so G‑d asked His people to set Him up with some digs. Where does it say that? Well, nowhere, actually. But it does say that G‑d instructed Moses to tell the people, “They shall make for Me a Sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” Now ...

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Cyberspace, outer space, inner space. Genome maps, globalization, going to Mars. Smart cards, smart bombs, stem cells and cell phones. There is no denying it: we live in a new age. Science fiction has become scientific fact. And the question is asked: In this new world order, with science and ...

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The locomotive was making its first appearance in a little town of old. No one had ever seen a horseless carriage before. Every one of the townspeople gathered at the new station to witness history in the making. The gun was fired and with a flourish of huffing and puffing the locomotive roared out ...

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