Parshah Columnists

Guest Columnists
The Other Darkness
What can we learn from darkness? Is there an upside to it?
When Life Knocks You Down
Perhaps you don’t deserve it, but neither did our fathers in Egypt—and G‑d was there for them. He’ll be there for you, too.
I Am a Cliché
Having the courage to experience the inherent energy shifts of the active and the stillness is how you feel alive.
On Didactics, Depravity, and Decapitating Donkeys
Killing the foal seems so pointless. What possible good could come of it?
Why Did G-d Smite the Firstborn?
Our job is to find the divine sparks hidden within each person, each object and each event, and let that shine.
Under the Darkness
When you’re able to “see” another person and revel in the positivity and unity it brings, it will automatically make you better, as well.
It's a Balancing Act: The Masculine and Feminine in Each of Us
Jewish mysticism teaches us that the differences between the sun and the moon are not just physical, but spiritual. This polarity is not merely about being a man or a woman; rather, these energies and qualities are present in everyone.
Why Is Passover on a Full Moon?
What is the significance of the Passover holiday taking place around thetime of the full moon?
The Balancing Act of Freedom: Knowing When to Be What
One of the hallmarks of being a slave is the inability to control anything, specifically time.
The Matzah Man
How an everyday dough boy gets to be a mystical matzah man
The Geometry of Freedom
The problem with most revolutions is that they are true revolutions -- revolve a full 360 degrees and the same ingrained patterns reassert themselves...
Door to Holiness
So what’s with the blood on the doors?
Have You Seen a Miracle Lately?
Every once in a while, the miracle just stares me in the eye and it becomes too hard to ignore.
Reality Check
How do we break free of our limitations, when those limitations have their way of imposing themselves upon us, like it or not? Can we just wish reality away?
Sun or Moon: Which One Are You?
The way we think about time informs our attitude towards the universe as a whole.
Wedding Speeches for Bo
In the First Place
An Essay on Parshat Bo
Just as there are first fruits of the soil, there are also first deeds and first dreams. Here as well, people become more sophisticated as they mature, as do their aspirations and dreams. Nevertheless, there is a special significance to one’s first dreams.
Torah Insights
No Place Like Home
Judaism seeks to transform each and every home into a place of spirituality, holiness, peace and tranquility.
The Freeman Files
The Moon and Us
To an ancient Greek or a Hindu, passive stillness is masculine, activity and motion are feminine. To a Taoist, action is masculine and passiveness is feminine. In other words, if it is a virtue it is masculine. The Jew turns the pyramid on its head
The Lunar Files
The backstory behind oppression, suffering, darkness and everything else that ever goes wrong.
It was an eerie feeling as the orbit of the planets suddenly swung into reverse. The moon was no longer receiving and reflecting light; as though sucked inwards, radiance flowed from the moon to the sun...
The Wildest Story Ever Told
The fact is, if it's philosophy someone else has also thought it; if it's a legend or myth, some other people have a story with a lot of strong parallels. After all, we're all talking about the same world from within the same bodies... Except for one, very enigmatic story
My Plastic Pharaoh
I'm glad my kids feel so free. As for me, I'm still a slave and Pharaoh, king of Egypt, never died. I labor for him all week long
The Existential Exodus
You can hide it enough so it doesn't embarrass you in public. You can pretty it up so that others are not as annoyed with it. You can try to ignore its whelps and howls when it gets out of hand. But can you free yourself of your ego?
Wrapping the Mind and Heart
An enigma among human rituals: Black leather boxes containing parchment scrolls inscribed in meticulous accordance with the criteria of an ageless scribal art. Not to be read, but to be worn . . .
Jews, Time and Freedom
How Torah liberated humankind from the bondage of fate
Once upon a time, time was round. Then somehow we straightened it out, put an arrow on the end and took it for a ride. Now let me tell you how it happened . . .
Weekly Sermonette
Why the Rush to Leave Egypt?
Our ancestors had spent 210 years in Egypt. They couldn’t wait a few more hours? Why the mad rush?
Finding Freedom
Religion, they arugue, stifles the imagination, stunts our creative style, forever shouts instructions and lays down the law. Why would someone want to submit to the rigors of religion when he can be a free spirit?
Let My People Go
It is not enough to let our people go. We have to take them somewhere.
A Ray of Light
Do you believe in G-d? That's not enough. Are you just a defender of the faith, or also a defender of the flock?
Life's Passages
The First Step to Liberation
Only after you have fully understood what is oppressing the individual can you hope to succeed in providing the solutions for her liberation.
The Story of a People
Like the moon, the Jewish people dip and soar through history. Yet, from each defeat, we have risen stronger.
Have You Seen a Miracle Lately?
Every once in a while, the miracle just stares me in the eye and it becomes too hard to ignore.
Living through the Parshah
The Moon's Humility
The Jewish nation seems small and weak, but this is actually the key to our greatness. It allows us to reflect G‑d’s quintessential light to the world.
Moses Believes in You
Pharaoh is the Torah’s paradigm for resistance to change. He was addicted to his status quo, even when his behavior became self-destructive.
Parshah Parenting
Liberating Your Child
Do we dismiss our child's issues as insignificant? Do we reassure him that this "little" incident will pass, without validating what he is experiencing, in this moment?
For Friday Night
Trapped? Not Trapped!
Is it fair to punish Pharaoh, if his refusal to recognize G‑d is forced upon him -- by G‑d Himself? Doesn't G‑d grant free will?
Did Darkness Prevail?
The Jewish people had light wherever they lived. Does it mean that the darkness did not affect the specific area where they dwelt? Or does it mean, more mysteriously that even in the Egyptian areas, there was light in the darkness?
Sanctifying Time
Time and place are two fundamental coordinates of life, and, in particular, of Jewish life and teaching. The unity of the Jewish calendar is a remarkable expression of the unity of the Jewish people.
Reflections on the Parshah
The Power of Revival
The lunar calendar must have a special quality beyond its specific function, a pervasive characteristic, to merit its beginning Jewry’s service of G‑d.
The Darkness Within
The darkness in Egypt was miraculous and inescapable. The darkness which lurks within is natural—but can be dealt with.
Parshah Moment
L'chaim to Chutzpah!
Imagine coming home one day, taking the beloved idiot box and throwing it out the window. Now, picture doing that when you work for the networks, and your boss came over to watch the news with you . . .
What Do You Think?
Declaration of Independence?
Imagine the scene. The Jews are still slaves in Egypt, and now for the very first time ever they will hear a Torah lesson. And it's about the moon. The moon?! Is that what's on the agenda?
Have You Slaughtered Your Sheep Yet?
tie a sheep to your bed and leave it there for four days. It will be there when you go to sleep (good luck with that!) and when you get up.
Inner Stream
Mezuzah: Interfacing with G-d
A human king sits indoors, and his servants guard him from outside. We sleep peacefully in our beds, and G‑d guards us from outside.
The Reluctant Partner
The Kabbalah of Evil
The Zohar teaches that the power to oppose G‑d comes conversely from G‑d himself
The Kabbalah of Darkness
When confronted with darkness, what do you do? fight it? peer more deeply into it? A dual lesson from the Plague of Darkness that afflicted the Egyptians
Who Were Legions of G-d?
We have been tempted during these past hours to cut corners, tell fibs, and succumb to anger and give in to temptation.
What the Rebbe Taught Me
G-d's Army
To be successful in this relentless inner struggle, we need to build up an arsenal of meditations and exercises that strengthen our willpower and self-control.
A Calculated Leap of Faith
Just imagine: Each morning when they woke up they were forced to look at their ex-deity—and then look themselves in the eye and ask whether or not they were ready to make this huge transition....
No Children Allowed
A debate between Moses and Pharaoh on the topic of: Do children and prayer go together?
Parshah Messages
The Secret of Light
As opposed to the other nine plagues, the Plague of Darkness didn't cause any tangible harm. What then was the inner meaning of this unique plague?
Stony Light
What is so remarkable about moonlight? After all, it is only a weak reflection of the powerful sun...
A Thought for the Week
The Bold, Proud Jews
Moses and Aaron approach the greatest ruler of that time Pharaoh and demand the release of his most productive and hated slaves. Standing in Pharaoh's court they are intensely, recognizably Jewish in dress and in custom; boldly and proudly they demand their people's rights and they were successful.
Parshah Musings
What About Me?
We all want the best for our children and hope they make the right choices in life. It's just that too often we're unwilling to expend the effort to model the behavior that we expect of them.
The Gold of Egypt
Wherever one finds oneself, whatever one is doing, there is a purpose to be realized and spiritual profits to be pursued
Circumcisions and Seders
Assimilated Jews, intermarried Jews, you-name-it type of Jews, all circumcise their sons, and almost all sit down to a Passover seder. Why, what do these two commandments have that the others don’t?
When Is Passover this Year?
Wouldn't it be wonderful if Rosh Hashanah would be regular and Passover punctual? And there would be an absolute guarantee that the World Series and Yom Kippur don't clash...
Why G-d Didn't Delegate
People in trouble don’t have the time or luxury to wait while you quibble over the command structure; they’re waiting for you to rescue them from evil.
Pass It On
Though hailing from a 500-year line of rabbis and religious thinkers, trained in traditional Lithuanian yeshivahs and with a Ph.D. in philosophy, he provided almost no systematic grounding in Judaism to his own children.
Weekly Torah
I Can't See You!
The greatest darkness is when "a man sees not his fellow"
Torah for Now
Reality is Perception
Nature undergoes fundamental changes in reaction to the solar cycle. With the lunar cycle, however, the only substantial change is in our perception
Inside the Monster
He led them to the very feet of the giant, opened a secret door in the monster's big toe, took them up a winding passageway to its belly, and showed them how the thing works...
Nothingness as a Force
Create an absence, and the vacuum will fill itself with a ferociousness that no "active" force can match.
The Nineteen-Year Marriage
The easiest thing to do would be to get a divorce and follow one path through life, but Jews are notorious for their refusal to accept the easier solution
The Fifth Question
At the Passover seder, the child asks, and we answer. But there is another dialogue taking place -- a dialogue in which we ask, and the child explains
Parshah Recovery
The Source of Evil
The source of evil is the independent ego--and the ultimate independence of ego is not the rejection of G‑d but the belief that G‑d's power is one's own.
Covenant & Conversation
Against Their Gods
The best test of a civilization is to see how it treats children, its own and others
The Necessity of Asking Questions
Liberty means freedom of the mind, not just of the body. Those who are confident of their faith need fear no question.
The Spiritual Child
A family narrative connects children to something larger than themselves.
Freedom's Defense
Freedom is won not on the battlefield, nor in the political arena, nor in the courts, national or international, but in the human imagination and will.
The Far Horizon
Judaism became the religion whose heroes were teachers and whose passion was study.
Beyond Speech
Know Who You Are
Light in the Darkness
I wish and pray all the time that I will be cured, but I am grateful to G‑d for the positive experiences that come from our situation.
On the Haftarah: Do Not Fear, I Am With You
For the haftarah of Bo, From the Teachings of the Rebbe
Now that G‑d has given me ALS, He put me in the darkest of places and I feel that I am handling it well . . .
I Will Go Out, I Will Pass Through: G-d Loves Every Jew
G-d was personally involved in freeing the Jewish people from Egypt
The Freeman Files
Exodus Daily
Keep real. But don't let reality become your master.
Related to Wonder
Wonder is our parent and we are its child.
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