To Commit to Another

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“And Abraham went as God spoke to him, and Lot went together with him”. The verse seems to be saying that if Lot would not have joined on his own, Abraham would not have brought him along on his journey to the land of Canaan.  What was the reason for Abraham’s hesitation? If we look at how the story continues we see that Lot may not have grasped and fully internalized Abraham’s path of devotion…

The Escape Hatch

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After Noah leaves the ark his very first action is to plant a vineyard. Why a vineyard? A possible approach to this question is based on the Rabbi's description of Noah as one “who lacked faith”.  Quite a strange description for a man that heeded God’s command and spent years building an ark and gathering on board all that God told him. Perhaps Noah was not lacking faith in God, but faith in…

When Your Child Asks: "What's This?!"

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A number of years back Rabbi Aaron Ross of Yavneh Academy in New Jersey posted the following on LookJed, a Jewish educator’s forum: “Being an educator is a tricky business.  What inspires one student can turn off another student, or perhaps can turn off the same student on a different day.  We are called upon to constantly be sensitive to the characters and needs of our students and to do…

Each and Every One of Us

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In this week’s Torah portion of Nitzavim-Vayelech, Moshe (Moses) conducts the final preparations for bringing the Jewish nation into Israel and he renews the covenant that was established between God and the Jewish nation at Sinai. What was the covenant? “To establish you as a people to Him and that He be a God to you..” In plain English, God was entrusting us to be his representatives here…

Look Your Part

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At the beginning of the Torah portion of Emor, The Torah outlines the physical requirements for a Kohen (priest) to serve in the Bait Hamikdash (Holy Temple) in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem). A variety of physical blemishes and disabilities - although they do not remove his priestly status (which is inherited) - will disqualify him from performing the holy service.  Seemingly, a servant of God is a spiritual…

Making the Inspiration Last

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The inspiration never lasts. We’ve all experienced the excitement that leads to a new commitment and the challenge in keeping it going: A daily exercise regimen and Spanish lessons are two of my own that have recently cooled off. So when the Jewish nation stood at Mount and experienced the excitement and inspiration of a national divine revelation, their passionate commitment to the Torah and its…

The First Lesson: Personal Responsibility

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Following sin... Following the sin of the tree of knowledge Adam heard God ask him איכה ayeka – “Where are you”? (Genesis 3:9) Yet, in the Jewish Bible all other vocalizations of this same word are Eicha – “How”? (For Ex. - Lamentations 1:1) When something unfortunate happens to us our initial reaction is often: “How did this happen to me?” How unfair!” This is the passive mentality…