Friday, October 30, 2020

Divrei Torah

The Tremendous Importance of Studying the Zohar

(Courtesy of Matok Midvash) In the holy books of the great sages of Israel, we find countless praises for one who immerses in the study of the holy Zohar, and the incredible spiritual power of such study. While the Zohar is usually associated with deeply esoteric and mystical matters, in reality, more than half of its content deals with


Making Up for Lost Torah Readings

This past Shabbat, the Ohr Saadya community began the project of making up the parshiyot that were missed from the weekly kriyat haTorah while shuls were closed. This took place in a special Shabbat morning minyan put together for this purpose, made up of volunteers who were excited to participate in this special opportunity. It was an


Keeping Our Children Close

I was recently listening to a shiur by noted speaker, Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein, founder of Ohr Na’ava. When he was young, his father was a traveling salesman who would only come home from work on Friday. His father was exhausted from a long week, but he had his priorities! When little Zecharia and his brothers came home from yeshiva on


The Ways of Peace

Parshat Re’eh

Throughout the seven haftarot of consolation that follow Tish’a B’Av, the navi Yeshayahu presents us with descriptions of the final redemption and return to our land. It is difficult for us who live through today’s events to ignore the powerful parallels between the prophet’s



Unkelos translates the word re’eh as chazi, reminding one of the word chazon, the vision of Yeshayahu. When I think of vision, I think of my uncle, Rabbi Genack, who upon introducing the then running for office Bill Clinton, referenced the words in proverbs: “Without vision, you will perish.” This was in response to Bush Sr.’s now


New Inner Vision Glasses for Life: Reflections on Parshat Re’eh

“See, this day I set before you blessing and curse;

The blessing that you will hear…

and the curse, if you will not hear…”

The title of the weekly Torah portion usually epitomizes its content. Moshe Rabbeinu in his fiery


Is Kosher Food Healthier? Does It Matter?

Parshat Re’eh reviews Jewish dietary laws, supplying a sweeping list of banned foods. It catalogues kosher and non-kosher animals, bans the drinking of blood, mentions the prohibition of mixing meat and milk, and also references the procedure of shechita. These comprehensive details regulate the entire experience of eating and


Mourning the Right Way

We read in Parsha Re’eh that one should not make any cuttings in one’s skin for the dead (14:1). Apparently, this was a mourning custom in ancient times. At the same time, we know that when a parent dies we are supposed to cut our lapels and rip our clothing to mourn our loved ones. What is the difference between the cutting of our


Mercy for Mercy

Roni had an important meeting to attend at 9:00 in the morning in Manhattan. He lived about an hour away so he made sure to pray that morning in the earliest minyan in his shul, which began at 6:15 a.m. He quickly had breakfast and attended a class afterward and was ready to leave at 7:30 a.m. But just as he was about to leave, an older man


Infusing Your Soul With Blessings

Rav Aryeh Leib Shteinman’s daily diet was as unique as it was simple: porridge. That’s it. Breakfast, lunch and supper—except Shabbos and Yom Tov. For 70 years…porridge! Personally, I’m crazy for Buffalo wings, but after 2-3 days I’ve had enough.

Why was the diet of Rav Shteinman


Do All Jews Have Stiff Necks?

Recounting the sad episode of the egel disaster, Moshe reminds the Jews that they are a people of “keshei oref,” which literally translates as a stiff-necked people. This term is employed four times in Ki Tisa, twice in Eikev, and numerous times throughout Tanach, generally referring to the character flaw of stubbornness or obstinacy.


Just Like a Dream

Parshat Ekev

When I began writing this column some years ago, I did so for a number of basic reasons. Firstly, I realized that these messages inspired hope and faith to our nation over the long bitter galut. For so many, the simple promise of a brighter future eased their ability to survive their dark