Parshah Columnists

Guest Columnists
The Pleasure Is in the Struggle
Leave perfection to G‑d; He wants for nothing but your struggles.
From Nice to Nasty and Back
The person you shared coffee with in the morning is now competition, and you’ll cut him down at the first opportunity.
Braveheart or Wiseheart?
"Wise-hearted" sounds contradictory. Wisdom is a faculty of the mind, but the heart is the seat of our emotions.
Stop Thinking and Start Doing
Sometimes, it’s time to put the self-help books aside and jump into the action.
The Cloud
What is the connection between the Jews traveling forward and the establishment of the Tabernacle in the desert? This information would seem to be more appropriate later in the book of Numbers, when it describes in great detail the various travels of the people of Israel during their 40 years in the desert.
Just Do It
The keys to the success of any significant project are capability and motivation. Potential + perseverance = success. Now between the two, which is primary?
Warm Dinner on the Road
A Blueprint for Healing
To be whole is to be holy, to keep what is eternally true at the center of your world and the core of your being. But it ain’t easy.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Parshat Vayakhel
What others think of us is relevant only if it reflects what we stand for and the way we honor their dignity. The secret is that we attain the favor of others precisely when we free ourselves of kowtowing to public opinion . . .
Relationships Meant to Endure
Parshat Pekudei
Any relationship can be sparked by infatuation, and it’s easy to get caught up in a moment of intense feelings. But for a relationship to endure, one has to relish and savor it, day after day, week after week, etc.
Brick by Brick
Parshiyot Vayak’hel-Pekudei
When the Jewish nation was still very, very young, we began setting aside materials for our own marital home. Our wedding was still hundreds of years, and hundreds of miles, away . . .
Wedding Speeches for Pekudei
The Unique Place
An Essay On Parshat Pekudei
Why was the Tabernacle erected in the wilderness, a seemingly inopportune time and setting for such an endeavor?
The True Meaning of Shabbat Rest
An Essay On Parshat Vayakhel
Even someone with a thorough knowledge of the laws of Shabbat must grapple with the complicated question of what exactly is considered work by the Torah’s definition.
Torah Insights
Window or Mirror
The mirror does not completely obstruct the light, as do other objects. Instead, it reflects the light that shines upon it. It symbolizes how the creation itself can reflect and express the Divine light.
Furniture First?
First we build a home, and then we fill it with furniture So why did Moses initially command Betzalel to make the furniture first?
Weekly Sermonette
The Day After
What happens after the honeymoon? Or the first anniversary? Do we have the commitment and the staying power to be in for the long haul?
The Final Exam
It's fascinating to note that somehow the Talmud was able to get wind of the actual questions we will be asked by the supernal tribunal, when we stand before it to give a "full justification and an accounting" for the way we lived our lives
Parshah Musings
Our Contributions Matter
Neither family background nor social status influence G‑d.
Building the mishkan was the most holy and intricate task that the Jews were assigned during their sojourn in the desert. Nonetheless, every Friday night all work on this magnificent edifice would come to a grinding halt
Let It Be Done
The Torah states "work shall be done" -- the passive voice. Becoming so totally devoted to one's job, such that one's work is one's total preoccupation and obsession, is totally unhealthy and an affront to the divine system. You may have to work, but let it be done
Raising Funds and Children
Men, women and children all lined up to contribute to the cause. One would hardly imagine that the children's gift made much of a difference to a project as grand as that of the Tabernacle...
Contributing to the Cause
Moses blessed the artisans and craftspeople who built the Tabernacle. Did he forget about the donors?
One-Hit Wonders
History’s pages are littered with examples of prodigies who blossomed and then faded.
As the fires of assimilation threaten, and the harsh winds of history blow towards us, there is a danger that we may mistakenly leave Judaism behind in exchange for a carload of worthless junk.
What matters in life is not who you are, or to which gender you belong, but what you can contribute to the common cause. You have a specialized skill? Then utilize your ability to bring beauty and greatness to the world.
Moses, the lead contractor, was understandably relieved to have finished the job, up to spec, on budget and on time. He could have been forgiven had he taken some time off for R&R but he had one last responsibility to complete before inaugurating the structure: he published a detailed accounting of every single last cent that had been solicited and spent on the project.
Inner Stream
Unity and Monetary Purpose
Moses knew that the single most potent barrier to unity is money and therefore addressed this barrier before all others.
The Inside-Out House
Betzalel, the prototype architect, objected to the order. "A person first builds a residence," he argued, "and then makes its furniture..."
Learning to Love It
Every teacher strives not only to transmit his lesson but also to spark the student's curiosity, to engender within him a desire to follow the instruction...
An Arresting Question
Which question do we hate to ask ourselves, yet know we must?
Celestial Real Estate
The Midrash teaches that as Moses erected the sanctuary in this world, angels in heaven raised a parallel sanctuary
The Jewish Mother: Wisdom of the Heart
Where did these Jewish mothers find the courage? I don't know because I'm not one of them, but ask your mother and I'm sure she'll gladly tell you. When a need arises, the Jewish mother simply responds.
The Temple of Our Home
Each of the five primary components of the Temple service has a counterpart in our homes and in our hearts.
The Vanguard
The Jewish Woman
The secret of the Jewish woman is bound up with the secret of our survival.
Reflections on the Parshah
The Antidote
Moses' first act after receiving Divine pardon for the Golden Calf sin was to gather the Israeites and speak to them regading the observance of the Shabbat. Couldn't Moses have found something more ennobling to tell them at that moment?
Wise Emotions
The people who constructed the Tabernacle are described as being "wise-in-heart." Is not wisdom the domain of the brain?
The Sanctuary's Two Names
The Sanctuary is known by two names, each with a distinct connotation essential to understanding the nature of the Sanctuary; as well as the sanctuary we are expected to create in our own lives.
Parshah Moment
My Grandma's Selective Memory
She built in America what architects of the land said could not be supported. But then, looking at blueprints, it can be hard to see passion.
Parshah Blog
Kindling Fire on the Sabbath
Given that the air conditioner, the CD player and elevator don't require "work," and certainly weren't considered as "fire kindling" by Moses, why does barring them make any sense today?
Living through the Parshah
Creativity Without Bounds
Creative self-expression is euphoric. But in Jewish thought, the expression of one’s talents is seen as something more—each soul has a unique mission as an agent of G‑d. The women who traveled with Moses in the desert had keen soul-awareness . . .
The Magic Touch
Success is the magic that floods my efforts with satisfaction. But success is never a guarantee, because there are so many variables that play into my ideal outcome.
Torah for Now
Wise of Heart
Why does Moses issue a call for the “wise of heart”? Is this not a contradiction in terms? After all, wisdom is in the mind, while emotions are in the heart!
A Foundation of Love
We all have different levels of ability, opportunity and commitment. Every one of us has strengths and weaknesses. The foundation of the edifice, however, is built of constancy . . .
Parshah Messages
A Silence Louder Than Words
On the 27th of Adar the Rebbe suffered a stroke, and spoke no more. How are we to view this event? What does it demand of us?
What the Rebbe Taught Me
The Princess and the Maidservant
Building the Tabernacle, G-d’s terrestrial residence, must have been a most sought-after contract. What was it about Bezalel and Oholiab that caused them to land this coveted assignment?
A Religion of Sensitivity
Long before tree-hugging was in, and before the world went green, there existed an ancient document, the bedrock of a historic people and their law, that advocated these values and more.
What Do You Think?
The Week-Long Shabbat
Moses was not (only) telling the Jewish nation how to observe the Sabbath, rather he was teaching them how observe Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Who Was Oholiab?
The Vice-Architect of the Tabernacle
The chief architect was Bezalel, and he was helped by many wise-hearted people. But only one of his helpers gets a special mention: Oholiab.
The Clouds of Glory: What Were They?
When our ancestors traveled in the desert, they were surrounded by a layer of miraculous cloud, which protected, pampered, and provided for them.
For Friday Night
Gathering Together
One and All
The construction of the sanctuary was a collective effort, completed through the talents of thousands of people. And yet, each individual felt that it was because of his personal contribution that the entire sanctuary was brought to completion
A Thought for the Week
How Is The Money Spent?
A corner of the universe that is utterly, exclusively, one’s own.
A Gathering with the Rebbe
You can't build a lasting building out of half-baked bricks. You can't assemble an accurate timepiece unless each of its gears, springs and balance wheels has first been honed to precision. But people, says the Lubavitcher Rebbe, are not bricks
The Me Word
Since the universe is basically words (see Genesis 1), everything -- marriage, community building, international relations, cosmic harmony -- is a question of proper grammar
The 40th Labor
What is “work”? If life is synonymous with creativity, is Shabbat a time outside life? What is the deeper significance of the curious Talmudic phrase, “forty labors minus one”?
Parshah Recovery
As a Result of these Steps
The "spiritual awakening" that is the objective and culmination of our working the Steps has been described as heaven on earth.
Searching and Fearless
The purpose of Step Four's inventory is not only to be able to identify the character defects that we wish to have removed, but also to become aware of our assets.
More Parshah Articles
Shabbat: an Island in Time
Shabbat: the island of time that defines the Jew’s week. The rituals, the practices, the do’s, and the don’ts of the Jewish Sabbath—and how you can experience it all for yourself.
The Holy Temple: an Anthology
What was the Holy Temple? Why was it destroyed? Do we have anything like it today? Do we really want to see it rebuilt and bring back those animal sacrifices? Seventeen essays, articles and stories on the holiest place on earth
Covenant & Conversation
Three Types of Community
A shattered people must be rebuilt. How does Moses proceed?
Encampments and Journeys
Team Building
Hostile factions can become a single cohesive group so long as they are faced with a shared challenge that all can achieve together but none can do alone.
On Jewish Character
The common factor was generosity. Jews may not always make the right choices in what they give to, but they give.
Don't Sit: Walk
If we fail to give the body regular exercise, it can easily malfunction and put us at risk of serious illness. The question is: does the same apply to the soul, the spirit, the mind?
If leaders are to bring out the best in those they lead, they must give them the chance to show they are capable of great things, and then they must celebrate their achievements.
Integrity in Public Life
There must be transparency and accountability when it comes to public funds even if the people involved have impeccable reputations.
Beyond Speech
We All Build a Home for G-d
We are here for a reason: to fashion this world into a dwelling place for G‑d.
Getting to Know You
I find that life has gotten difficult. I wonder why G‑d has chosen to give me ALS.
Completing the Redemption: Making a Home for G-d
Parshat Pekudei gives an account of all the donations to the construction of the Mishkan and how they were used.
On the Haftarah: Jachin and Boaz, Built by Hiram for Solomon's Temple
From the Teachings of the Rebbe
Jachin and Boaz were the great pillars of copper that were at the entrance of the Holy Temple.
Everyone Is Important
In parshat Vayakhel, we read how everyone gave donations for the construction of the Mishkan and its vessels, garments, etc.
On the Haftarah: We Are a Paradox
A Commentary on the Haftarah of Parshat Pekudei
That is our mission, to make this finite world into a home for G‑d, who is infinite.
The Most Is Accomplished in Our Struggles
I could have never imagined the impact I would have in the world, lying in bed, unable to move.
Life's Passages
Time to Be More Inclusive!
Whether we consider ourselves low or high, righteous or wicked, someone with limited abilities or someone super talented, we are all needed.
Anna’s Story and the Foundation of Our Nation
Each of us can use our unique capabilities and opportunities to be a sanctuary for G‑d’s presence in our world.
Parshah Parenting
Look Out for Those Pegs!
Building your child’s character requires focusing on the “big” issues; but it also means not neglecting the “minor pegs” grounding his values.
Related Topics