Beitzah Sep 6, 2021

In our last post, we noted the principle milta d’lo schicha lo gazru ba rabbanan, that our Sages do not enact protective measures for rare events, a…

Rosh Hashanah Sep 6, 2021

The blowing of the shofar is a most enigmatic mitzvah. The reasons we eat matzah, sit in the Sukkah or take the lulav are readily apparent; they…

Beitzah Sep 3, 2021

One of the manifold changes of modernity is manifest in the modern methods of food preparation. No longer must one literally spend pretty much the…

Sukkah Aug 29, 2021

Those who have sat shiva know that the weeks after shiva can be much harder than the shiva itself. No longer are there people coming to visit, at…

Sukkah Aug 27, 2021

It was not long ago that it was hard to find a minyan of people with a lulav and etrog in shul. Following on the heels of the High Holidays, Sukkot…

Ki Tavo Aug 27, 2021

Observance of religious precepts is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Just because one is neglectful in one area of practice, Shabbat for example,…

Sukkah Aug 25, 2021

One of the unique laws of the arba minim, the four species, is that one can only fulfil the Biblical mitzvah with a set that one personally owns (…

Ki Teitzei Aug 20, 2021

One of the beautiful aspects of the Torah is its setting of high, perhaps even unattainable, standards and goals. It takes much work to ensure we do…

Sukkah Aug 19, 2021

Rabbi Yochanan ben HaChoranit must have been a great Sage. I imagine that many reading this devar Torah have never heard of him and there is in fact…

Shoftim Aug 13, 2021

“Do not sacrifice to G-d, your Lord, an ox or sheep that has a blemish; any bad thing, it is an abomination to the Lord, your G-d” (Devarim 17:1).…

Sukkah Aug 12, 2021

To state that Rav Yochanan ben Zakai is one of the most important leaders in all of Jewish history is nothing short of an understatement. Without his…

Sukkah Aug 9, 2021

One of the requirements of a sukkah is that it be a dirat arai, a temporary dwelling. A permanent structure would be a bayit, a home, rather than a…

Re'eh Aug 6, 2021

"For the sin that we have sinned before You through hardness of the heart."  With the month of Elul approaching, our thoughts turn to…

Sukkah Jul 30, 2021

Psychologists have long known that two people can—and often do—see the exact same thing, and yet offer very different accounts of what they have…

Eikev Jul 30, 2021

Had things gone according to plan, the chumash would be a much shorter book. If not for the sin of the golden calf, there would have been no need for…

Tu B'Av Jul 23, 2021

“Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said: There were no days more joyous than the 15th of Av (Tu B'Av) and Yom Kippur, for on those days the daughters of…

Va'etchanan Jul 23, 2021

"Shamor v’Zachor b’dibur echad". This phrase, sung every Friday night, notes the most famous difference between the recording of the aseret hadibrot …

Tisha B'Av Jul 17, 2021

Judaism places great emphasis on the proper greeting of people. The Talmudic term for a greeting, a sheilat shalom, invokes a reference to G-d, peace…

Devarim Jul 16, 2021

"Eleh Hadevarim, these are the words that Moshe spoke to all of Israel" (Devarim 1:1). In Biblical Hebrew, the word eleh comes to differentiate and…

Sukkah Jul 14, 2021

“A sukkah that is taller than 20 amot, cubits (approximately 30 feet), is invalid; and Rabbi Yehuda validates it” (Sukkah 2a). This rather technical…

Mattot Jul 9, 2021

The Torah is full of repetition. Whether it is law or narrative, much of the Torah seems to deal with recurring themes. Our Sages have focused on…

Yoma Jul 7, 2021

One of the fundamental mitzvot of the Torah, one we acknowledge at least twice a day, is the command to love G-d. “And you shall love the Lord your G…

Jul 5, 2021

“Moshe received the Torah at Sinai and transmitted it to Yehoshua, Yehoshua to the Elders, and the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets to the…

Pinchas Jul 2, 2021

“Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aaron the priest was the one who so zealously took up My cause among the Israelites, and turned My anger away…

Balak Jun 25, 2021

What a waste of talent. “No other prophet like Moses has arisen in Israel who knew G-d face to face” (Devarim 34:10).  Our Sages, in an astounding…

Yoma Jun 23, 2021

It is hard to imagine Jewish life without davening or brachot. They are amongst the most important of our religious practices. One of the ways COVID-…

Chukat Jun 18, 2021

People have a natural tendency to avoid talking about death. People "pass away" or are "no longer with us". In Parshat Chukat death and its attendant…

Jun 15, 2021

The thought below is written in honour my father z”l, Rabbi Joseph Kelman, Rav Chaim Yosef ben Harav Tzvi Yehudah z”l, whose yahrzeit we observed…

Korach Jun 11, 2021

What does it take to convince somebody that they are wrong? Humans have an unbelievable ability to ignore the obvious as they cling to discredited…

Jun 10, 2021

In our introductory post to Pirkei Avot we wondered why Rebbe, in editing the Mishna, did not begin with Pirkei  Avot, containing as it does the Avot…

Jun 8, 2021

Last year and this, I have had the pleasure of learning and teaching Pirkei Avot. There is no better way to learn than by teaching and no greater way…

Shelach Lecha Jun 4, 2021

Who should get the blame for the meraglim fiasco? Was it the report of the spies, or the lack of faith of the people that did us in? Might it be…

Behaalotecha May 28, 2021

After reading through Sefer Breisheet and the sibling rivalry we encounter in generation after generation, it is a pleasure to come to Sefer Shemot…

Yoma May 25, 2021

“Talmud Torah k’neged kulam, Torah study equals them all”. And in our tradition, learning equates with teaching. The Torah records no actual mitzvah…

Bamidbar May 14, 2021

Parshat Bamidbar is, on its surface, little more that names and numbers. The bulk of the parsha lists the counting of the Jewish people, tribe by…

Yoma May 13, 2021

In our last post, we discussed the tragic murder carried out in the Temple by a religious zealot who had lost a race to determine who would have the…

Yom Yerushalayim May 11, 2021

One could quite reasonably make the argument that the overarching goal of the Torah is the establishment of a Jewish state that will serve as a model…

Yoma May 8, 2021

Newton’s third law of motion teaches that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This law explains why it is much easier to hit a…

Bechukotai May 7, 2021

The ability of the Jewish people to see hope when others see despair is perhaps the key to understanding the amazing tenacity of the Jewish people.…

Yoma May 5, 2021

We have often noted the refreshing openness of our Sages. They tell it as it is, and made no efforts to cover up the foibles or even sins of their…

Emor Apr 30, 2021

  When one thinks of the most important parts of the Torah one is likely to think of the aseret hadibrot, the shema or perhaps the mitzva to love…

Yoma Apr 27, 2021

When discussing the gravest of sins—say, for example, the three cardinal sins of murder, adultery and idolatry—we are dealing with sins of commission…

Kedoshim Apr 23, 2021

Knowledge is much more than the accumulation of facts. It is the analysis and application of those facts that is crucial. Underlying factual…

Yoma Apr 18, 2021

In a rather fortuitous coincidence, the daf yomi cycle concluded masechet Pesachim just a few days before Pesach. In the Talmud Bavli, masechet…

Tazria Apr 17, 2021

Perhaps there is no parsha less studied than Tazria (and its frequent partner, Metzora). With its focus on the detailed laws of …

Yom Ha'atzmaut Apr 15, 2021

A few years ago while on a visit to Israel, my good friend Michael Levenstein z”l, in whose memory this devar Torah is dedicated, was giving my wife…

Shemini Apr 9, 2021

Modern society often expects people to keep their emotions in check and to avoid displaying them publicly. This is especially true of our leaders…

Pesach Apr 1, 2021

Moshe Rabbeinu was our teacher par excellence. As a great pedagogue, he understood the importance of teaching subject material in a timely manner. “…

Pesach Mar 26, 2021

The eating of karpas has long baffled our commentators. Why exactly do we dip a vegetable in salt water just as we are ready to begin the…

Pesachim Mar 23, 2021

While “only” a rabbinic command, drinking four cups of wine is given special status at the seder. Unlike matzah and marror—which…