Parshah Columnists

Guest Columnists
The Empowering Art of Framing
Why is it important to list the journeys? The Torah isn’t a history book, nor is it a travelogue, so what’s the purpose of this list?
Low-Speed Travel
Where are we headed at such breakneck speed?
Cities of Refuge Demystified
Learn about the ancient cities in Israel where killers and priests rubbed shoulders
The cities of refuge were only for those who killed accidentally, not knowing the consequences of their actions.
I can't believe I find myself in the same position, doing the same task: packing. Again, we're moving. We've moved five times in seven years...
A Kabbalist's Guide to Hieroglyphics
This thing about the Jews “wandering” through the desert is a misconception. They were no more wandering through the desert than a spelling bee champion wanders through the alphabet.
Two Rabbis Came to the Door
I had been a seeker for many years by the time I knocked on the door of Lubavitch House...
One of My Forty-Two Journeys
We were separated from the group, and found ourselves paddling somewhat aimlessly down little back areas replete with lilies, and no visible dry land. A deep fear overtook me...
The Daughters of Zelophehad
“Why should our father’s name be eliminated from his family because he had no sons? Give us a landholding among our father’s brothers!”
Wedding Speeches for Massei
The Temple Guards and Their Mystical Meaning
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak devotes 25 pages of dense Kabbalistic text to explaining this discrepancy through the lens of Jewish mysticism.
Forging Ahead, Leading the Way
Did the nation of Israel transform? Have the people integrated lessons learned? And are they ready to become independent, mature, individuated human beings, leading themselves through their life journeys?
Why People Feel So Important at the Airport
You can just see it written on their faces as they purposefully wheel suitcases down the terminal . . .
The Journey vs. the Destination
Sometimes, a journey is only about reaching the destination. Other times, it’s about what happens along the way.
Do the Jews Deserve the Land of Israel?
The Land of Israel is Heaven’s perfectly suitable gift suited for the Jewish people. By the same token, it is beyond what the Jews can ever deserve.
Weekly Sermonette
The Power of Prayer
Now this is very strange. Here is a man who, though not a murderer, is not entirely innocent of having caused the loss of a person's life. Opposite him stands the High Priest of Israel, noble, aristocratic and, arguably, the holiest Jew alive. Do we really have reason to fear that the prayers of this morally tainted prisoner will have such a negative effect on the exalted High Priest, to the extent that the High Priest may die?
Through the Eyes of a Woman
Life’s Journeys
Reflections on the Parshah
Our forty-year desert sojourn is a metaphor for our long national history of wandering. It also infuses us with hope and purpose.
Parshah Musings
How Many Roads Must A Man Stumble Down?
The answer is easy: 42. It's the question that's more difficult to ascertain.
The First Day Of The Rest Of My Life
A smoker once told me that quitting was dead easy; he personally had stopped dozens of times...
Someone appointed by a group must decide policy from the perspective of the group as a whole. The leader with the Divine mandate can thus be most responsive to the individualized needs of his flock.
Just Passing Through
The Jews of the desert may have remained relatively undisturbed for years at a stretch, but they had no way of knowing, from one day to the next, how long they could expect to stay where they were.
Parshah Blog
The Blood Avenger and the Cities of Refuge
Isn't encouragement of vengeance precisely what the City of Refuge system does? Doesn't the American system do a better job of dealing with such a sad episode, discouraging vigilante justice?
Parshah Messages
A Timely Yahrtzeit
What is so remarkable about the timing of Aaron's yahrtzeit that it merits explicit mention in the Torah?
What the Rebbe Taught Me
Milestones or Tombstones
Why are these forty-two pit stops referred to as “journeys,” rather than “encampments”? Weren’t each of these destinations milestones reached, not just locations left behind?
Living through the Parshah
Brother of Peace
The clouds represented everything that Aaron stood for—millions of people can be shielded by the same cloud, unlike food or water that can’t be shared by even two people simultaneously. Like the clouds, Aaron protected and cherished everyone equally...
For Friday Night
Phases Of Freedom
Are we searching for freedom? Then the Torah will help us in our search...
The Prayers of the High Priest
The high priest should have been praying for his generation in a way which would have prevented such negligent accidents. Thus the accident indicates a flaw in the spiritual service of the high priest.
Life's Passages
Personal journeys. Relationship journeys. Our national cosmic journey . . .
A Thought for the Week
So Long in the Desert
The wilderness is “where man does not dwell”; on the highest level this refers to Adam HaElyon (“Supernal Man”)—G‑d. One who finds himself in such a state must transform the desert into a place where G‑d does dwell . . .
Higher and Higher
But today we cannot be satisfied with yesterday's standards of accomplishment. Not only is yesterday's liberation insufficient, imperfect--it is, for today, a strait, a limitation, an Egypt from which an exodus must be experienc
Weekly Torah
Journeying Through Life
This Torah reminds us that even though we may have reached our destination, we should always be cognizant of the path which brought us there, and not take for granted those who have encouraged and guided us.
Life on the Inside
The penimi appreciates the differences between important things and things of lesser importance, between means and ends, between journeys and destinations. But in whatever he is involved, he is fully there. When he's on the way to something, he's fully invested in being on the way to something
Is tribalism good or bad for the soul? How are we to weigh our loyalties to family, community and "tribe" against our role as a partner in the mission and destiny of the entirety of the Jewish people?
Parshah Recovery
Higher and Higher
During our recovery, chemical sobriety may have been the beginning of our Exodus. But "getting dry" is not the end of our journey to freedom.
Covenant & Conversation
The Religious Significance of Israel
The paradox of Jewish history is that although a specific territory, the holy land, is at its heart, Jews have spent more time in exile than in Israel; more time longing for it than dwelling in it; more time travelling than arriving.
The Prophetic Voice
Jeremiah, the most passionate and tormented of all the prophets, has gone down in history as the prophet of doom. Yet this is unfair. He was also supremely a prophet of hope.
Leadership at a Time of Crisis
In Judaism, leadership is not a luxury but a necessity. Ours is a small and intensely vulnerable people. Inspired, we rise to greatness. Uninspired, we fall.
Inner Stream
It's What We Bring Home That Counts
Life is a journey with stations along the way, some more comfortable than others. But when we settle in to those more comfortable stations, we may forget that we haven’t yet reached our destination.
Back to Basics
If we hold on to each teaching and weave it into the tapestry of teachings we have already learned, we will grow from each encounter.
Beyond Speech
It Is Our Victories That Define Us
Sometimes you will overcome and sometimes you may fail. But know that every time you overcome, G‑d revels in your victory.
On the Haftarah: What's so Terrible About Broken Wells?
For the haftarah of Matot-Massei, From the Teachings of the Rebbe
Together in Friendship
When we are together in unity, we are even stronger. We help each other overcome obstacles.
Let's Be Like the Daughters of Tzelafchad
The Torah here mentions them by name for the third time, an honor bestowed on very few.
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