Monday, January 25, 2021

Divrei Torah

The Cost of Stubbornness

As a young child, I was very strong minded. I remember really misbehaving one time, ignoring my mother’s pleas to stop. She offered to make hot dogs for dinner—my absolute favorite—yet I persevered. I was too stubborn. “Don’t you want hot dogs?” my mother asked. I held my ground…and she didn’t make hot dogs. I later asked


The Redemption From Egypt and Our Personal Redemption

One of the main characteristics of the redemption from Egypt is the haste: “This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly: it is a Passover offering to the Lord” (Shemot 12:11).

What is the meaning of this


Our Story

Redemption was well underway as the entire country of Egypt had been ravaged by interminable calamities. Once a superpower capable of supporting the entire planet, the Egyptian empire was gradually reduced to rubble. Moshe’s fame was quickly spreading throughout Egypt as popular opinion swung against Pharaoh’s inflexible policies.


Are We on the Wrong Track? There Is One Person Who Can Change It

According to a YouGov poll from January 13, 74% of responders believe that the USA is on the wrong track.

Read that again. Seventy-four percent. Three out of every four people believe that we’re heading in the wrong direction. Truth to be told, I don’t need any YouGov poll to tell me that. I speak to


Are We a Wise and Understanding People?

Recently, a relative sent me an amusing cartoon featuring the complications of maintaining a kosher kitchen. It shows stickers usually associated with “meat” and “dairy” designations which read “once fleishige, used to cut milchige onion,” “once milchige, now treife,” “davar charif,” etc. There are pouches which say


A Proposal to Improve Our Davening

The pandemic rages on. In order to survive, we have had to become flexible and open to change. Changes for work, school and shul. We have embraced the essentials and discarded the dispensables. And we all look forward to returning to shul and conducting davening the way we used to. Well, not all of us. I, for one, would like to see a change


Until They Know How Much You Care

It’s time to get the air buzzing, and Moshe comes to inform Pharaoh of the upcoming eighth plague of locusts if Pharaoh once again refuses the emancipation of the Jews. After Moshe delivers the strong warning, the pasuk says “and he turned, and left from Pharoah” (10:6). Where did Moshe “turn” to, and why does it matter?


Pharaoh, the King of De-Nile

Stubbornness, like many human traits, can either work for you or against you. When we think of the Jews who survived atrocious circumstances in the Holocaust, for example, we describe them as tenacious, determined, spirited or purpose-driven. On the other hand, we have examples of leaders who were led by evil intentions and refused to bend


Corona Diary #20: Blurring the Lines Between Humans and Animals

Parshat Vaera

A little over a year ago a person consumed a bat and that meal changed the way we view our world. Watching the coronavirus crossing over to the human realm from the natural world has forced us all to ponder the relationship between human beings and the natural world we inhabit. For the


Spiritual Refinement Through Challenges

When I was learning in yeshiva I was looking for a healthy physical and emotional outlet. Some of the boys had joined a local gym with hours for men. I was skinny and not very strong. I thought the way to build muscle mass was to lift extremely heavy weights. The gym trainer clarified how it works. I needed to lift weights within my ability


It’s Not Just Pharaoh

Two complex mechanisms are revealed to us in Parashat Vaera. The first being the heart of Pharaoh.

I was a guest about a year ago at the Boca Raton Congregation in Florida. There, Rabbi Efrem Goldberg drew conclusions about our hearts from Pharaoh’s heart: “How stupid can one be?” he asked


Yeahhh, Whatever

Showing total control over nature, the plagues that Hashem sends upon Pharaoh and Mitzrayim didn’t seem to get Pharaoh to budge much. Why didn’t Pharaoh realize Hashem and the message He is sending? Wasn’t he concerned that more plagues would come and more damage would occur to his kingdom, and moreover, wasn’t he concerned about