Parshah Columnists

Guest Columnists
Pivot Like Moses
If G‑d plants someone in your circle of influence who needs you, be there for them—even if it’s not your thing.
The Song of the Well
It’s all very poetic, but what exactly happened that inspired them to burst into this serenade?
What Happened to the Clouds of Glory?
Sometimes the term “clouds of glory” is used, while at other times it simply refers to “clouds.” Why is this?
How I Find Meaning Within the Mystery of Judaism
Embrace the struggle that is part of a nuanced and complex life. Be humble and stay open to the lesson.
Why Only a Few Drops of Water Came from the Rock
A lesson in giving
The people of Israel were dying of dehydration. But where would they find water in the barren and arid desert?
Reflections on Leave-Taking
We really should not have to die at all, despite Adam's sin. And G-d, so to speak, is sensitive to this. It "embarrasses" Him...
Remember the Story of Miriam Every Day
Miriam’s self-sacrifice and determination serve as an ever-present inspiration.
Hidden Good
How does the agent of destruction become the agent of healing?
What Was the Red Heifer?
An overview of the Parah Adumah from classical sources
Learn about the mysterious red heifer, which left even King Solomon, the wisest of all men, scratching his head in wonderment.
Wedding Speeches for Chukat
Aaron, the Clouds and the Long Road to the Holy Land
Bereft of the aura of the untouchable, Israel became vulnerable to external threats.
Moses Strikes the Rock: The Full Story
Moses striking the rock is among the most famous and enigmatic stories in the Torah.
Do Skeptics Make You Have a Cow?
The Red Heifer is the single most incomprehensible commandment in the Torah. By the same token, it most accurately represents the most incomprehensible part of the soul.
Torah Insights
How to Live Like Ash and Water
Only by yearning to escape the confines of the earth can we imbue our life on earth with meaning.
Confronting the Heifer
Purity is not achieved by suppressing or waging war against desire.
Weekly Sermonette
Where There's a Will There's a Why
The Almighty promised Moses that to him He would reveal the secret meaning of the Red Heifer; but only after Moses would initially accept it as a Divine decree
Conduct Unbecoming
A life sentence for jaywalking? Twenty years for chewing gum in public? Singapore notwithstanding, surely that's over the top! Well, was it so different for Moses, who is punished and denied entrance to the Promised Land for the seemingly minor infraction of hitting a rock instead of speaking to it?
Who’s Afraid of Big Bad Og?
Who was Og, why was Moses afraid of him, and what this teaches us about the protective power of a single act of kindness
Life's Passages
Spread the Love
Loving our fellow means stripping away those external barriers that divide us to find the deepest bonds that connect us.
Is Having Children a Logical Decision?
Rational decisions are based on outcomes, but having children is “an epistemically transformative experience.”
Do It Just For Me!
What works for me may not be optimal for you, so rationally trying to convince you to do things “my” way can be ineffective.
Wellsprings of Devotion
One day, Sara tried a different approach. "Honey," she said to her husband. "I know you this isn't the way you see it. But please, do it just for me!"
For Friday Night
The Meaning of the Mitzvot
The sages tell us that there is a link between the 613 commandments (mitzvot) and the human body . . .
Life and light are often paired together. We seek life, and we seek light. Yet sometimes we seem to hit a patch of darkness. What happens then?
Journey of the Soul
There is the image of water: a spring of water among the garnsde, that trickles underground, down, down, down, through the layers of stone and sand which refine it and purify it . . .
The Teaching of Aaron
The Sages tell us that Aaron devoted himself to carrying out the command "love your fellow" to the highest degree. The Midrash relates how he attracted people to the teachings of the Torah...
Through the Eyes of a Woman
The Value of Life
Parshah Moment
The Call of the Hero
When we ask heroes from where they got the strength to do incredible things, they give lousy answers. Inevitably, their answer is “I had to do it” . . . Regardless of their level of articulation, they cannot come up with any good reason for why they did what they did.
Parshah Blog
Moses and the Rock
G‑d's decree not to allow Moses to enter the land was not a punishment in the classic sense of the term. Moses just did not sin to a degree that should have caused him to lose the right to fulfill his life's dream for which he had worked so hard.
What the Rebbe Taught Me
Me Too!
Is there a limit to altruism?
Just because you are ready to completely sacrifice your own spiritual development in order to help others with theirs, that doesn’t mean that G‑d is ready to accept that sacrifice.
Was Hitting the Rock Such a Big Deal?
A Matter of Perception
Parshah Messages
Death Is Not Final
Moses was baffled when G‑d described for him the impurity contracted through contact with a corpse. Why?
Why Did Moses Hit the Rock?
If striking the rock was so awful, why was it okay so many years earlier? Why didn't Moses follow G-d's simple instructions? Why did this seemingly minor offense have such severe consequences?
What Do You Think?
I Miss You, Aaron
I would set you up with so many men, women and children who have lost their direction in life. Maybe you would be able to touch the hearts of those who have fallen off the beaten path, and bring our lost children home...
Kvetching is the first step out of slavery and a way of ensuring that we don’t enter a soul-destroying slave mentality.
Weekly Torah
Deeply Ingrained
Our approach to life and to the Torah is in a manner of chok, of engraving...
Use Your Brain!
A Thought for the Week
Three Dimensions of Torah
The spiritual significance of Moses' manna, Aaron's clouds of glory and Miriam's well
The Giant Og
Parshah Musings
An Honest Man
He doesn’t lie. He doesn’t dissemble. He pays the tax man his due and his suppliers on the dot.
Why Do People Die for Judaism?
When he was being led, manacled, out of his home, the final words he addressed to his children were, “Dear children, dedicate your lives to that for which I am being arrested.”
Family Feud
Why would you repeat every piece of malicious gossip you hear? If you know you’re not helping the situation, surely you are always better off saying nothing than saying too much.
But Whyyyy?
You've lost it! Goodbye "Great communicator"; Let's welcome "King of the household, rigid ruler of the little people..."
Good News Is Not News
Just as some businessmen become traumatized by the mistakes of their early career and refuse to ever again venture into uncharted territory or speculative investments, it must have been so tempting for the Jews to play it safe and await further orders.
The New Me
By the end of the day I've got nothing to show for all my reformist zeal. I'm probably better off going back to my old ways. Or am I? I'll wake up early and decide, first thing tomorrow morning.
What I Learned from a Snakebite
All my rosy dreams of the fast track to success have long since dissipated, ground down by the realities of my sterile existence. - Anonymous Israelite
Waters of Strife
The Price of Leadership
A common denominator in all the explanations of the “Waters of Strife” incident is the implication that whatever the problem was, that wasn’t really the problem. Basically, G‑d is getting Moses on a technicality.
Parshah Recovery
We Might Not Understand, But it Works!
It has been said that the Twelve Steps work but that no one is really sure how or why they do. It can be unsettling to give oneself over to a process that you cannot understand.
More Parshah Articles
From Life to Life: Death, Mourning and Hope in Jewish Tradition & Practice
Our tradition encompasses all of life, day and night, light and dark. Even in the most difficult of situations--the imminent and then actual loss of a loved one--our Torah is there to strengthen us, to guide us, and to help us grow and see beyond our loss.
Inner Stream
Why No Biblical Miracles Today?
I would think that if G‑d were to show His hand today, it would inspire billions to believe in Him.
The Four Gifts of the Yiddishe Mama
The lesson of Miriam’s well is clear. The Yiddishe mama has a particular role to play in Jewish life.
Covenant & Conversation
Losing Miriam
Why did Moses momentarily lose control? Why then? Why there? He had faced just this challenge before.
The Consolations of Mortality
Before any of the deaths are mentioned we read about the strange ritual of the red heifer, which purified people who had been in contact with death – the archetypal source of impurity. That ritual, often deemed incomprehensible, is in fact deeply symbolic.
Healing the Trauma of Loss
It took me two years to recover from the death of my father, of blessed memory. To this day, almost twenty years later, I am not sure why.
Miriam, Moses’ Friend
Miriam was no ordinary sibling. Moses owed her his entire relationship with his natural family, as well as his identity as one of the children of Israel.
Living through the Parshah
Emerging Unscathed
Understanding and learning from the “Song of the Well”
Along with the sincere compassion for another person’s pain comes the sense of gratitude for not having that particular struggle in my life.
Beyond Speech
What Keeps Me Going
It is now more than three years since my diagnosis of ALS.
On the Haftarah: On Jewish Leaders
For the Haftarah of Chukat, From the Teachings of the Rebbe
The Talmud tells us that “Jephthah in his generation is like Samuel in his generation.”
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