Balak Jul 21, 2024

As I noted in my last post I had the honour of speaking at the Beit Yehudah  synagogue in Budapest last shabbat. Below is a summary of my words. As…

Central Europe Jul 19, 2024

Kazinczy, Dohany, Rumbach. For the average Hungarian these are street names in the heart of Budapest. For Jews these are names of three of the most…

Central Europe Jul 17, 2024

Jews first settled in Hungary in the 13th century, settling mainly in the city of Buda. In 1526 the Ottoman Empire occupied Hungary and as result…

Spain Jul 16, 2024

The city of Toledo sits some 75 kilometres to the south of Madrid, the capital of Spain. It is a most picturesque and charming city, perched on a…

Spain Jul 16, 2024

If 1148 marks the end of the Golden Age of Spain, the beginning of the end of Spanish Jewry as a whole begins in 1391. By that time the Christians…

Chukat Jul 15, 2024

The transition point from the generation that left Egypt to the one that entered the Land of Israel is never mentioned in the Torah. The Torah does…

Spain Jul 11, 2024

Jews lived in Spain for a very, very long time, possibly from as early as Biblical times. The first recorded evidence of Jewish life in Spain dates…

Korach Jul 8, 2024

Tzizit and Mezuzah are two of the most popular and easy to fulfil mitzvot. Thankfully, even Jews who are very far removed from traditional practice…

Shelach Lecha Jun 28, 2024

Great people are not afraid to put their name behind their convictions. “And Calev quieted the people for Moshe and said, ‘We will rise…

Behaalotecha Jun 24, 2024

“Moshe said to his father-in-law, ‘We are now on our way to the place that G-d promised to us. Come with us and we will let you share the benefit of…

Shavuot Jun 18, 2024

“Every day they [the mitzvot of the Torah] should be like new”. With the exception of Coca-Cola, we like that which is new. We tend to associate new…

Naso Jun 17, 2024

The Torah was given to us on at least two occasions. The first revelation, just weeks after the exodus was ineffectual as the people built a golden…

Bamidbar Jun 10, 2024

Sefer Bamidbar can be viewed as a book of missed opportunities. A small group of Jewish slaves—the midrash claims no more than one in five—showed…

Bechukotai Jun 3, 2024

“These are the things that one eats the fruit of in this world and the principal remains in the world to come” (Shabbat 127a). Every morning as we…

Behar May 26, 2024

We tend to categorize mitzvot as either mitzvot between man and G-d or mitzvot between man and man. Tzedakah is a mitzva between man and man whereas…

Emor May 17, 2024

“And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you…

Kedoshim May 10, 2024

While facts do not lie, they often do not tell the whole truth. Facts are facts but facts still must be evaluated as to their moral propriety. And…

Yom Kippur Acharei Mot May 3, 2024

“And G-d spoke to Moshe after the death of the two children of Aharon when they came close before G-d and they died” (Vayikra 16:1). The Torah then…

Pesach Apr 28, 2024

Jewish life is all too often rather chaotic. Yet Pesach and Yom Kippur, the two central holidays of the year[1] teach the importance of seder, order…

Pesach Apr 26, 2024

It is hard to argue that there is a more impactful and important rabbinic decree than that of kriat haTorah, the weekly public reading of the Torah.…

Pesach Apr 22, 2024

“Rabban Gamliel would say: Anyone who does not say these three things on Pesaḥ has not fulfilled his obligation, and these are they: [the korban]…

Metzora Apr 19, 2024

Judaism teaches that everything has the potential for holiness; after all everything in this world was created by G-d. But it is up to man to…

Tazria Apr 12, 2024

There is no greater joy than having a child. From a religious perspective, bringing new life into this world is the most tangible way of…

Shemini Apr 5, 2024

“Moshe then inquired, darosh darash, about the goat of the sin offering, and it had been burned” (Vayikra 10:16). Judaism has always stressed the…

Tzav Mar 29, 2024

One of the major debates in Jewish thought relates to the appropriateness of ascribing reasons for the mitzvoth of the Torah. One approach asserts…

Purim Mar 27, 2024

The decree has been promulgated and publicized through the empire. 127 provinces have received “hurried” instructions that they should “destroy,…

Vayikra Mar 22, 2024

Jewish etiquette – and law – teach that one should not enter one’s own home, how much more so the home of someone else, without knocking first (…

Pekudei Mar 15, 2024

"These are the accounts, pekudei, of the tabernacle, the tabernacle of testimony, as they were pukad, rendered, according…

Vayakhel Mar 8, 2024

“Moshe gathered the entire congregation of Israel and said to them” (Shemot 35:1). It is extremely rare that the Torah records Moshe speaking to the…

Ki Tisa Mar 3, 2024

Forty days after the most awesome event in history – G-d’s revelation to man - the Jewish people were dancing around a golden calf. Though Moshe had…

Tetzaveh Feb 23, 2024

  The central theme of Sefer Shemot is the formation of the Jewish people as a nation. The group of 70 individuals who descended to Egypt quickly…

Terumah Feb 23, 2024

Symbols play an important part in helping to define who we are. Our clothing, for example, is often symbolic of the social milieu with which we…

Mishpatim Feb 16, 2024

"Rabban Yocḥanan ben Zakkai’s students asked him: ‘For what reason was the Torah stricter with a ganav, thief than with a gazlan, robber?’” (Bava…

Yitro Feb 2, 2024

What kind of book is the Torah and who is it meant for? Rashi begins his commentary to the Torah with the supposition that the Torah is primarily a…

Beshalach Jan 26, 2024

Throughout the Exodus story, the Jewish people are silent. We do not know what they were thinking or doing during the plagues. We hear them rejoicing…

Vaera Jan 14, 2024

That man sins is part and parcel of being human. It is the basis of the most special day of the year, that of Yom Kippur. Proper preparation for, and…

Shemot Jan 5, 2024

“And Moshe was frightened and he said, behold the incident is known. And Pharaoh heard about the affair and he sought to kill Moshe…

Vayechi Jan 1, 2024

  The opening 11 chapters of Sefer Breisheet can be read as explaining why there was a need for a Jewish people. G-d created man in His image and…

Vayigash Dec 22, 2023

It is clear already from the sale of Yosef, that Yehuda had leadership potential. It was he who convinced the brothers not to murder Yosef, something…

Miketz Dec 15, 2023

Yosef was a most charismatic person. He was young, attractive and as the Torah tells us on three occasions, he was an ish mazleach, a successful man…

Vayeshev Dec 8, 2023

The annual Torah reading cycle has us reading the story of Yosef during Chanukah[1]. While in most years it is Parshat Mikketz we read on Shabbat…

Vayishlach Dec 1, 2023

“And Jacob was very frightened and distressed” (Breisheet 32:8). After some 22 years Yaakov Avinu is returning home. Afraid that Eisav – who years…

Vayetze Nov 24, 2023

“Go out and learn what Lavan the Aramean sought to do to Yaakov, our father; Pharaoh only decreed [death] on the males but Lavan sought to uproot…

Toldot Nov 17, 2023

Our Sages were no respecters of persons. When they felt a wrong was committed, they called it out – be that person Noach, Avraham, Moshe or anyone…

Chayei Sarah Nov 10, 2023

Yitzchak brought [Rivka] into mother Sarah's tent and he married Rivka. She became his wife, and he loved her. Yitzchak was consoled for the loss of…

Vayeira Nov 3, 2023

Rabbinic tradition maintains that the Torah existed even before the creation of the world, in essence serving as the architectural blueprint of…

Lech Lecha Oct 27, 2023

The Torah provides very little biographical information. Rather, it highlights significant events in their lives from which we can deduce and debate…

Noach Oct 20, 2023

“And the entire land were of one language, and the same things” (Breisheet 11:1). What a beautiful description of a world at peace! A world in which…

Breisheet Oct 13, 2023

A history book, a law book[1], a book of theology, editorial comments, a book of philosophy, a description of G-d, a code of ethics, a lesson on…

V'zot HaBracha Oct 6, 2023

If one wants to get a quick overview of a book one tends to read the introduction or perhaps the opening pages. That is where a typical author sets…