Treat Her Right
Oct26

Treat Her Right

Dvar Torah for Parshat Lekh Lekha Treat Her Right Abram said to Sarai, “Please say that you are my achot (sister), so that it will go well for me for your sake, and through you I will live” (Genesis 12:13). For those of us who are new at this, and for those of us who may need a reminder: our holy Torah is many, many things at one and the same time. So a story about a man and a woman who lived a few thousand years ago in ancient...

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Dvar Torah: Parshat VaYishlach
Dec08

Dvar Torah: Parshat VaYishlach

Dvar Torah for Parshat VaYishlach “[Yaakov] got up that night … and crossed Maavor Yabok … Yaakov remained alone. A man wrestled with him until dawn” (Genesis 32:23–25). Considering some of the people Yaakov Avinu (our Patriarch) had to contend with, I would have thought that wrestling with an angel would be a piece o’ cake. I would have been wrong. Angels are actually pretty tough characters. They have no body, so they never get...

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“Gratitudinal”
Dec02

“Gratitudinal”

“If God will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear …” (Genesis 28:20). Why did Yaakov Avinu (our Patriarch) ask for what seems to be so little? One may have plenty of food, but not the health to eat or enjoy it. One may have a closet full of beautiful, well-tailored clothing, but may have to wear a hospital gown. This prayer is an example of a little that contains a lot!

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Dvar Torah for Parshat VaYetze

Dvar Torah for Parshat VaYetze There is Only the Trying “It’s twenty years that I’ve worked for you! … I was consumed by scorching heat during the day and frost at night; sleep was driven from my eyes” (Genesis 31:38–40). Rebbe Nachman got annoyed when someone said that tzaddikim were great because they had great souls. He insisted that this was not true, maintaining that their achievements depended completely on good deeds, effort...

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Dvar Torah for Parshat Toldot 5772

Dvar Torah for Parshat Toldot Blessing in Disguise “[Yitzchak] did not recognize [Yaakov] because [Yaakov’s] arms were as hairy as his brother Esav’s …” (Genesis 27:23). The age-old question: How did Yitzchak Avinu (our Patriarch) err to think that Esav was worthy of a great blessing? Even if we’ll grant that Esav fooled him into thinking that he, Esav, was a tzaddik, how could Yitzchak Avinu not know that Yaakov Avinu was a greater...

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Dvar Torah for Parshat Chayei Sarah
Nov18

Dvar Torah for Parshat Chayei Sarah

Dvar Torah for Parshat Chayei Sarah One Thing They Can’t Take Away “Give me a burial plot … If it be your desire that I bury my dead … speak on my behalf to Efron” (Genesis 23:3,8). What about Maarat HaMakhpelah (the Twin Caves) made Avraham Avinu (our Patriarch) so intent on making it the burial ground for Sarah Imeinu (our Matriarch)? Why was he willing to spend so much money for it? Because every thing in Creation wants to go home,...

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Dvar Torah for Sukkot/Feed Your Head
Oct11

Dvar Torah for Sukkot/Feed Your Head

Dvar Torah for Sukkot Feed Your Head You’re probably familiar with the expression “a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” That was told to young women of bygone generations to encourage them to learn how to cook well so that could “catch” a man. Well, Rebbe Nachman teaches, the same is true of coming close to Hashem (God). The way to your neshamah (soul) is through your stomach. But the way away from your neshamah is also...

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Proud to be Jewish

Dvar Torah for Rosh HaShanah Proud to be Jewish We’re on the threshold of Rosh HaShanah, the Day of Judgment, when we’re scrutinized, weighed in the balance and then written down for a good year (hopefully), all in less time than it took to read this sentence. Rosh HaShanah is two days long not because God needs that much time to figure out what to do for you or because that’s how long it takes some people to complete reciting their...

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Bouncing Back—and Forward
Sep23

Bouncing Back—and Forward

Dvar Torah for Parshat Netzavim-VaYelekh Bouncing Back—and Forward “You are standing here today… (Deuteronomy 29:9). Rashi comments: “Like ‘today’ which is, which gets dark and which shines, [God] has shone on you in the past and will shine on you in the future. The curses and the suffering [of Deuteronomy 28] maintain and sustain you.* They help keep you going with [God].” Ooyyyyyy! Finally. Finally! The last Shabbos (aka...

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Dvar Torah for Parshat Matot
Jul21

Dvar Torah for Parshat Matot

Dvar Torah for Parshat Matot Based on Likutey Halakhot, Sheluchin 5:17 “Moshe spoke to the Israelite tribal heads, saying: ‘This is the word God has commanded’” (Numbers 30:2). Rashi comments that when any mitzvah was introduced, the tribal heads had the privilege to be the first to learn about it, directly from Moshe Rabbeinu. Rashi also tells us that Moshe Rabbeinu’s prophecy was qualitatively different—and greater—than that of all...

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Dvar Torah for Parshat Pinchas
Jul13

Dvar Torah for Parshat Pinchas

Based on Likutey Moharan I, Lesson #30 “Moshe spoke to God, saying, ‘Let the Omnipotent God of all souls appoint a man over the community … Let God’s community not be like sheep without a shepherd.’ God said to Moshe, ‘Take Yehoshua son of Nun, a man of spirit, and lay your hands upon him.’ … Moshe did as God ordered him” (Numbers 27:15–17, 22). “Each person must seek out a suitable teacher … one who can elucidate and give him...

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Dvar Torah for Parshat Korach
Jun23

Dvar Torah for Parshat Korach

Based on Likutey Halakhot, Hodaah 5:8 “The earth opened its mouth, swallowing them and their households, along with all the men who were with Korach, and their property” (Numbers 16:32). “A tempest passes in a sudden and the villain is gone, but the tzaddik is the foundation of the world” (Proverbs 10:25). Last week we talked about some benefits of hiskashrut l’tzaddik, being “bound” to a tzaddik. This is a good week to talk about a...

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Dvar Torah for Parshat Bamidbar
May26

Dvar Torah for Parshat Bamidbar

Dvar Torah for Parshat Bamidbar Based on Sippurei Maasiot (Rabbi Nachman’s Stories) #1, “The Lost Princess” “God spoke to Moshe in the Sinai Desert …” (Numbers 1:1). “The viceroy knew that there was no “golden mountain with a pearl castle” anywhere to be found in civilization. So in order to find the lost princess, he struck out for the desert.” There comes a time in life, perhaps in a fleeting moment, when one realizes that so...

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Dvar Torah for Lag b’Omer
May19

Dvar Torah for Lag b’Omer

Dvar Torah for Lag b’Omer Based on Likutey Halakhot, Hekhsher Keilim 4:1–4 “Tzaddikim are greater in their death than they were in their lifetime” (Chullin 7b). Why is Lag b’Omer (the 33rd day of the Omer-Count) such a great celebration? Not because Rebbe Akiva’s students no longer died prematurely, but because it is the anniversary of Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai’s passing. Celebrating the death of a Jew, particularly of a tzaddik,...

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Dvar Torah for Parshat Behar/Shavuot
May12

Dvar Torah for Parshat Behar/Shavuot

Dvar Torah for Parshat Behar Based on Likutey Halakhot, Areiv 3:30 “God spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai, saying” (Leviticus 25:1). This week’s Torah-reading starts with a mention of Mount Sinai, and because we are preparing ourselves to receive anew the holy Torah given at Sinai, let’s talk about how we can get ready. Fill in the blank: The most necessary “thing” I need to be a better Jew is ____. If you said ratzon—interest, desire,...

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Another answer to the question…

On this verse, “God spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai, saying” (Leviticus 25:1), Rashi brings the following question of our Sages. “mah inyan shmitah etzel Har Sinai?” “What does the Sabbatical year have to do with Mount Sinai?” I would like to answer the following: “Israel encamped [vy’yichan] there, opposite the mountain [Sinai]” (Exodus 19:2). Rashi comments: As one person, with one heart. So, just as receiving the Torah called for a...

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