Saturday, October 31, 2020

Divrei Torah

Ethics vs. Etiquette

At the end of Parshat Noach, following the story of the flood, Noach left the ark and planted a vineyard, with disastrous results:

“And he drank of the wine and became drunk, and he uncovered himself within his tent” (Bereishit 9:21).

Cham, the father of


Noach’s Ark: Protecting Us Even Today

Over the years, many individuals claimed to have found the remains of Noach’s teiva (ark). Many believe the teiva is buried under layers of volcanic debris in the snow-covered Mount Ararat in Turkey. Others believe the teiva is located in the Durupinar site in eastern Turkey under a rocky spot the shape of a boat. In 2006, a team of Texas


The Ways of God and the Ways of Man

The creation of our world is described in the Torah as a flurry of activity. Rapidly, across a short span of six days, the universe as we know it is called into being. In effortless fashion, a Divine declaration or announcement draws each aspect of our world into being. By contrast, the creation of man is far more deliberate and


Visiting the Gravesites Of Tzadikim

In the final verses of the Torah, Moshe dies under unusual circumstances. We read that God buried Moshe in an unknown location, “and no one knows his burial place to this day.” (34:6) The Gemara (Sotah 13a) elaborates that Moshe’s final resting place was concealed so that his tomb would not become a shrine of


Torah Provides Our Daily Spiritual Awakening

I had a babysitter when I was a young boy who used to tell me fascinating stories about a thousand-year-old man. Every time he went to sleep, he woke up a thousand years later to a changed world!

Today, we’re all exhausted from a whirlwind of activity starting from the early Selichos before Rosh


Man, in Whose Image?

After Elul and the High Holidays, Parshat Bereishit comes along with its renewal: A new cycle of Torah reading, A new world emerges out of chaos, and man is about to be created. Endless potential, full of awe and wonder.

“And God said: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...”


What’s the Good Word?

The pasuk (2:15) says, “Hashem took Adam, and placed him in Gan Eden in order that he work it and guard it.” This pasuk seems to be redundant, as only a few pesukim earlier (2:8) it says that Hashem put Adam in Gan Eden! Moreover, in pasuk 8 it makes no mention of Hashem “taking” Adam and putting him in Gan Eden, whereas in pasuk 15


Your Creation Story: The Journey of Self-Discovery

Parshat Bereishit

Michelangelo was once asked: “How is it that you create such wondrous sculptures and works of art? How can something so innovative and ingenious emanate from mere mortal hands?” Without skipping a beat, Michelangelo responded: “Before I even begin my work, the sculpture is


The ‘Shalom Aleichem’ Prayer

We all sing this song peacefully. Could anything be controversial about it? (This is aside from the mild disagreement that might occur over whether each stanza should be recited three times!) Let us analyze the history of this prayer.

The idea for the prayer is based on the passage at Shab. 119b that


Chilul Hashem in the Streets: Response to the Protests

Editor’s note: This is an annotated, slightly edited written version of oral remarks posted on erev Hoshana Rabbah, 5781, Thursday, October 8, 2020. We are grateful to Rav Twersky and Torahweb for their permission to share. For the original video or audio, visit this link:


Two New Books on Bereishit

Rabbi Yosef Soloveitchik has often been quoted as saying that if he could add to Maimonides’ 13 Principles of Jewish Faith, it would be that Torah is timeless and entirely relevant for every generation.

As we begin this week the annual Torah reading cycle, that observation of Rabbi


Yamim Noraim 5781: An Advertisement for Our Day School Education System

What does this year’s unusual Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur davening—with most communities having organized multiple minyanim in various locations—have to do with day school education?

A lot…and I will explain.

In Stamford, Connecticut, where I live, we had no