Minor Thefts – Parshat Mishpatim 5773

I was recently a passenger on a small airline flying out of Stewart Airport, I think it was called, Skybus. On Skybus you have to pay for everything; the muffins were $2 each, coffee was $1.50 etc.  After the crew had finished selling the muffins the stewardess was cleaning up somewhere in the back of the plane. I noticed a man walking toward the front of the plane to take ...

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My Child – Parshat Yitro 5773

I recently travelled with one of my children, which was a wonderful experience, giving us a lot of time together, without too many distractions.  As we were getting onto the plane, I handed our boarding passes to the stewardess, but it was not obvious that my son was standing with me, so she pointed to him and said, “Does he belong to you?”  My automatic response was, “Yes,” because I understood ...

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Chapped Skin and Hand-cream – Parshas Beshalach 5773

It is winter and one of the things that I have been thinking of is chapped skin. Yes, it is true; my hands are very rough and chapped. I use a hand-cream on them, but, when I put on my tie I can feel the fabric catching on my skin. I cannot help thinking that one of the reasons my hands are chapped is because as a religious Jew I ...

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Remembering the Exodus – Parshat Bo 5773

Parshat Bo Generally, we classify the commandments of the Torah into commandments that pertain to our relationship with G-d and commandments that pertain to our relationship with other people. There are some who had a third category, the commandments that govern the relationship between body and soul, in other relationship with the self. Generally, when we think about the commandment to remember the Exodus, we usually define it as being a a ...

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Divine Destiny and Egyptian Guilt – Parshat Va’eira

Parshas Va'eira 5773 One of the famous questions that is asked regarding the Exodus from Egypt and the whole issue of the slavery of the Jews in Egypt is that, indeed G-d had actually told Abraham that his children would be slaves in a foreign land, he predicted the exile, He said the Jews would be enslaved. If so, the commentaries ask, then the Egyptians should not get punished, because they ...

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Jewish Nationhood – Parshat Shemot 5773

Parashat Shmot In the book of Exodus, Shmot, the development of the descendants of Jacob from a family into a nation is documented. I have been asked numerous times is Judaism a religion or a peoplehood?  Most classic religions do not limit themselves to a particular nation. A religion is a system of belief and a system of action, a system of thought and of ethics without, generally, a nationalistic component. Judaism is, ...

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The Winter of Our Youth

Parashat Vayechi Here in New Jersey it is cold and windy outside, snow is predicted for this week. We have truly entered winter. Winter usually gets very bad press in secular literature and popular culture. People talk about someone reaching the “winter of his days” in other words, he is shriveling up and dying. Winter is the opposite of summer – summer is a time of action and fun, a time ...

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Getting an Oil Change

I just returned from taking my car for an oil change and safety inspection. I noticed, in shock, that the sticker on the front was over the period and so I rushed to an inspection facility and had it inspected for safety (hoping and praying that I would not be stopped by the police on the way). We do not only regularly inspect our cars, but, as someone who flies ...

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Chanuka And Total Reality

Parashat Mikeitz The festival of Chanukah is very popular. Many Jews identify with it, and many because they probably misunderstand it. They either think of it as celebration of political independence, or as a type of nationalistic holiday. Really, Chanukah is about a clash of cultures - Judaism and the Torah versus the Hellenistic Greeks. I have nothing against the current Greeks, we are talking about the ancient Hellenists who, for ...

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I Have a Dream

Parshas Vayeishev Dreams feature prominently in our Parsha. The dreams of Joseph that precipitated his slavery in Egypt, the dreams of Pharaoh that needed interpretation, and the dreams of Joseph’s fellow prisoners, that eventually led to his release. The word for dream in Hebrew is “chalom”, spelled chet, lamed, mem. A great Chassidic thinker once pointed out that the letters of chalom can be rearranged to spell, lochem, fight, and mochel, ...

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