Sunday, January 24, 2021

Divrei Torah

Belonging to the Land

Parshat Chayei Sarah describes the first portion of land any Jew ever owned in Israel: Avraham’s purchase of the Machpeilah cave in Chevron as a burial plot for Sarah.

Why does our permanent and tangible connection with the Land of Israel begin as the purchase of a burial plot? Indeed, for thousands of


No Questions Asked

Ephron pulls the chair on Avraham, positing an exorbitant amount of cash for the plot of land Avraham wants to bury Sarah in. Avraham had not so much of a choice but to accept. One who reads through the exchange and puts himself in place of Avraham can imagine the possible frustration and annoyance involved, as well as the faintheartedness


To Sojourn in the Land

Editor's note: This dvar torah corresponds to Breishis 47:4, and overlaps and complements 


Reflecting on Yom Tov in Our Community

Quite frankly, I didn’t think that this was an article for me to write. There were so many community clergy and lay leaders involved in the arrangements leading up to Yom Tov that I truly thought that another would take notice. However, after giving it a few weeks, I think that it is time to reflect on what actually happened in our


Dveikut as the Antidote to Uncertainty, Part I

Author’s note: I have included a tribute to Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, zt”l, in this article. May his memory be for a blessing.

Over the past eight months, my focus in this series has been to offer my readers as many doable strategies in dealing with the challenges we all face during these


Receiving by Giving: Following the Mitzvos

Parshas Vayeira

Rabbi Yoel Gold told the following story: Yaakov was accepted into a prestigious law school that had no other religious Jews. Despite this, he decided to wear his yarmulke and tzitzis openly. Upon graduation, the school hosted major law firms for interviews. Yaakov faced the dilemma


Corona Diary #19: Are We Meant to Wonder About God?

Humanity had turned the corner: After 2,000 years of barbarism and heresy, Avraham discovered God and launched a revolution of religious consciousness. One metropolis, however, remained unyielding, stuck in a backward state of religious indifference and immoral conduct. Sadly, God decided to erase these cities from land, which


Is the Akeidah Ethical?

It seems that every few years, some renegade rabbi or academic argues that the message of the Akeidah, the binding and near-sacrifice of Yitzchak (Gen. 22), is something other than that we should follow God’s commands no matter how hard they may be. I don’t want to speculate why people offer these suggestions, and instead take them at


Godless Is Goodless

It already happened once, but yet again we read in this week’s parsha that Sarah is abducted by another king. In another ultimatum between giving up Sarah or potential death, Avraham has no choice but to say Sarah is his sister, and thus again, the king, Avimelech, takes Sarah but is informed by God in a dream that Sarah is really a


Corona Diary #18: Appreciating the Value of Work and Profession

Jewish history is launched through an epic pilgrimage to the promised land. Having been selected by God, Avraham abandons his homeland, family and culture to enter the great unknown. He isn’t provided a specific destination but instead is instructed to journey to a land that God will ultimately “assign.” His final destination is


The Challenge of Land and Children: Plowing the Field of God

Avraham Avinu received two promises from God: of land, and of children who are to become a great nation. After promises and prayers, Avraham and Sarah, at last, have a child. And then, “After these things, God tested Avraham.” Avraham is called upon by God with the same words of the initial command of “Lech-lecha,” wherein he


What Are You Worrying About?

It’s war time! Avraham Avinu heads out to war to try to recapture and regain his nephew, Lot, who was taken captive under the jurisdiction of four kings. Avraham wasn’t just outnumbered, he was barely even a number. In fact, Avraham only had one other teammate join him in the upcoming battle, his loyal servant Eliezer (see Rashi,