Parshah Columnists

Guest Columnists
Keep on Walking!
Life Lessons From the Parshah - Beshalach
How to Be Calm When the Cupboard Is Bare
G‑d can give us a family, a car, a house and a job, and I may not enjoy any of it. Why? Because no matter how good it is now, the shakiness of what about tomorrow steals the show and scares me.
Can You Be Righteous?
Our world needs more righteous people or, at least, more righteous acts.
Why We Love Old Songs
And as many times as you hear it, you’re moved all the same. If the tune grabs you from the get-go, it will almost always continue to do so.
Is Your Optimism Grounded in Reality?
A man gets into his car and decides, in the name of “optimism,” that he won’t buckle up. Is he an optimist or is he foolish?
Clearing the Sidewalks and the Splitting of the Sea
Snow is easy to clear, but once it’s been beaten down and turned to ice, what would have been a ten-minute job can turn into hours of banging and salting to break up the rock-hard sheets.
Bitterness Moves
Parshat Beshalach
When confronted with pain, we have three choices . . .
The Power of a People
The sages tell us that it was all because of the children...
Pure Passion
What animates me? What perks me up and gets my blood pumping? What thoughts come to mind when nothing else is taking up my brain space?
The Secret of Getting Free
Bombarded from every direction, we can hardly help but respond. We try harder, run faster and work longer, racing at breakneck speed like mad hamsters on a wheel. No one expects to keep running forever. We all intend to stop—just as soon as we get where we’re going . . .
Why the Need to Split the Sea?
A lesson on why the Jews needed to travel through the Red Sea
Growing Up With My Daughter: Becoming a Bat Mitzvah
Being that I struggle with grownuphood in general, you can imagine my apoplexy at the fact that our oldest daughter, Nava, is becoming Bat Mitzvah this week. Yup, according to Jewish law, my baby is about to become a woman. Which, I guess, means I better start seeing myself as one, if I need to see her as one . . .
The Quill of the Soul
The Power of Music
Even now, years later, the tune of that melody is still in my head. I access it when I need to unwind. I connect to it like the words of a lover's poem. Yet it went beyond what words could express. It was as if the rhythm of my soul could be found in between the notes...
Why Were the Israelites Still Afraid of Pharaoh?
The Jews are standing in the shadow of a huge, clearly supernatural pillar of fire. Why are they still afraid?
When Do You Have to Fight?
It’s best to walk away from a fight. Except when the enemy threatens one’s holiest possession. (Parsha Perks | Beshalach | with Dr Michael Chighel)
What Happens When the Miracles Stop
An Essay On Parshat Beshalach
Man’s glory is his free will, for his ability to decide is a kind of act of G‑d. Man can use his free will to his own detriment, or as an expression of glory and dignity.
Why Did All the Pursuers Die at the Red Sea?
Was there not even a single person who deserved to be spared?
Triggering G-d
G‑d behaves with you as you behave with Him and others.
Torah Insights
Why the Sea Needed to Split
As the sea split, as the hidden world came to light, the core of the soul was also unveiled
A Thought for the Week
The Name's the Same
What was the secret behind the Jewish spiritual survival in Egypt? Why did they not assimilate into the Egyptian culture?
Never Again!
In every generation, "Pharaohs" arise who share the evil hope of the ancient Egyptian monarch
Weekly Sermonette
My grandfather rode around in a horse and buggy! So, just because my grandparents practiced certain Jewish traditions, why must I? Perhaps those traditions are as obsolete as the horse and buggy?
What Does G-d Have to Do with It?
Is it possible to be spiritual and selfish at the same time?
The Bones of Joseph
Must we jettison the old to embrace the new?
Seeing Is Believing?
When you witness the miracle of creation with your own eyes, faith is unnecessary. Or, is it?
Inner Stream
A Night of Opportunity
The righteous and the wicked, the wise and the foolish, the leaders alongside the lay people -- all were running about collecting the treasures of Egypt. One man, however, did not join the frenzy.
Two Loaves of Manna
The three qualities of the manna, and how they apply to us today
The Skeptic
The skeptic can destroy, in an instant, understandings and commitments that take years to establish. What makes it difficult to contend with is his imperviousness to argument or debate. This is the spirit of the Biblical Amalek...
The Circle of Faith
In Times of Crisis
A story is told of a man who was driving about, desperate to find a parking spot. With no spots available, he called out, “Dear G‑d, give me a parking spot and I will pledge a thousand dollars to charity.”
Split Your Sea
Winds blow, waters flow, plants grow. Only two things never change: G‑d, and our immutable faith in Him—a faith that will split your every sea.
What the Rebbe Taught Me
The Need to Feel Needed
The greatest motivator for extraordinary human endeavor is a sense of purpose and mission.
In Love with G-d
On the Essence of Prayer
Like divers who plunge to the depths of the sea in search of treasures, we submerge in the murky waters of a material world in order to uncover buried divinity. And like divers, we too must come up for oxygen. Prayer is that breath of fresh air...
The Bitter Waters of Marah: You See What You Are
Two chassidim from Odessa once traveled to their rebbe in pursuit of a blessing. In a private audience, the first one was asked, “How are things in Odessa? Are the young people pious? Are they passionate in their service of G‑d?”
Parshah Messages
The Emancipation of the Spirit
The Israelites' irrational fear of the Egyptians teaches a powerful lesson...
The Objective Is War
The fledgling nation which left Egypt was in its spiritual infancy, and a return to the bankrupt values of the depraved Egyptian lifestyle was a real risk. War, therefore, had to be postponed for some time . . .
Moshiach: A Return to Monarchy?
The 20th century saw the expansion of democratic ideals on a global scale. How is this preparing us for the Messiah's "monarchy"?
Rationed Food for the Soul
Is distributing equal food portions G-d’s way of demonstrating the importance of absolute equality amongst all humanity -- even at the expense of common sense?
Sweetening the Waters
When there's too much tough love
All too often, well-intentioned discipline estranges children and, instead of prodding them in the right direction, steels their resolve to continue on their ill-chosen path. At what point is "tough love" too much?
The Evolution of Chabad
Chabad's public image adapts to the times, but what singular core teaching serves as the basis for diverse activities such as meditation, underground schools, and public menorahs?
Reflections on the Parshah
Moses' Heavy Hands
Moses didn't become hoarse; his hands became heavy. Is it because speaking is always easy?
A Time to Battle
As Jews, we are faced by two different types of enemies; one G-d battles, the other is our responsibility
For Friday Night
The Manna, Shabbat and Jacob's Ladder
We might be at home, or in the synagogue. We might be praying in Hebrew, or in another language. What are we trying to do when we pray?
A Glimpse Beyond the Veil
The journalists are ready with their poised cameras. Then the veil is drawn aside, and one hears an involuntary gasp from the crowd. The Splitting of the Sea was something like this, and more...
What Do You Think?
Pharaoh as a Role Model
He saw sticks turn into snakes. He didn't budge. He saw water turn into blood. Nothing... Hello, Pharaoh! Why don't you just give up?
Weekly Torah
In Harmony
In At The Deep End
Living through the Parshah
The Pain & Pleasure Principle
Lessons from Miriam
A preemptory dose of pain can bring a lot of long-term pleasure. This pain/pleasure principle played itself out vividly in the life of Miriam and her soul-sisters...
How the Forbes 400 Compare to an African Tribe
It seems that the old adage “money can’t buy happiness” has some truth to it. Although wealth has as much as tripled over the past fifty years, mental illness has increased at an equal rate.
Who Were the First Ones to See G-d?
Growing a family is no easy feat, and for the Jewish women in Egypt, it was especially difficult.
Parshah Musings
The Bones of Your Ancestors
Wherever we wander, and no matter which geographical location we currently call home, we know that some pieces of our past will never be left behind.
Why Humans React Irrationally to Problems
No matter how much we try to problem-solve, a permanent solution always seems to remain tantalizingly over the horizon.
Why Stay in Egypt?
The moment Pharaoh said “go,” you’d have thought they’d be out of there like a shot. What could possibly be so attractive about Egypt that some were tempted to stay there a moment longer than necessary?
How to Be a Nice Person
She didn’t have a single friend, couldn’t get along with anyone, and couldn’t maintain a relationship.
Solid Water
Free Food
if G‑d wanted to miraculously ensure our survival in a desert, He needn’t have invented manna. He could have reduced our dependency on food. No appetite, no hunger, no problem . . .
The Ultimate Test
When life runs smoothly without complications, we tend to take things for granted and expect things to continue sailing along. Unfortunately, for most of us, it is only when the arrows of misfortune strike that we wake up...
Keeping It Real
Do you remember your bar or bat mitzva and the heady excitement of entering a new stage in life, with endless possibilities stretching before you?
Parshah Insights
Split Your Sea
If you were given a glimpse of your subconscious personality, what would you find?
The Freeman Files
Manna in a Basket
In truth, there are two possible channels by which to receive your livelihood, according to the perspective you take in life . . .
Moses Returns
An Exclusive Chabad.org Interview
So let’s say Moses turns up today. What would he liberate us from? What sort of miracles would he make this time around?
The Exodus, Part II
What's going on? Hasn't Pharaoh come literally begging Moses and Aaron to take their people out of his land as quickly as possible? Who, then, is this mighty Pharaoh materializing like a mirage in the desert?
Murky Depths
Why G‑d gave us a subconscious
“Everything that exists on land,” says the Talmud, “also exists in the sea.” The Kabbalists apply this law in a broader sense as well . . .
The Manna Eaters
Life is mostly waste. Take food, for example: we spend many hours earning the money, shopping, cooking, eating, and then most of it passes right through our bodies and into the city's sewer system
Parshah Recovery
Constant Miracles
Believing in a Higher Power is one thing; but believing in a Higher Power who is in control at every moment is another.
Covenant & Conversation
The Divided Sea: Natural or Supernatural?
The sages tended to downplay the dimension of the miraculous, even in the case of the greatest miracle of all, the division of the sea.
The Power of Ruach
Music, Language of the Soul
When language aspires to the transcendent, and the soul longs to break free of the gravitational pull of the earth, it modulates into song.
To Be a Leader of the Jewish People
There is no one Torah model of leadership. We are each called on to fill a number of roles .
The Face of Evil
After 9/11, when the horror and trauma had subsided, Americans found themselves asking what had happened and why. Was it a disaster? A tragedy? A crime? An act of war? It did not seem to fit the pre-existing paradigms. And why had it happened?
Beyond Speech
Fleeing From Our Personal Egypt
Lying here in my bed, unable to move or speak, unable to hug or kiss my precious children, I am in a physical Egypt
Do I Cry to G‑d That He Heal Me?
Sometimes it feels like we are in an impossible situation, everything seems to be against us, and we are backed against a raging tide.
On the Haftarah: The Greatness of Jewish Women
For the haftarah of Beshalach, From the Teachings of the Rebbe
The song by the sea was sung by both the men and the women. Why is the song of the haftarah only that of a woman, Deborah?
Manna, Bread From the Heavens
I have not found a Jew who is not ready for a lesson from the inner Torah.
Reveal What Is Hidden
The way of G-d is to "journey forth," making this world into a home for G-d.
Life's Passages
Why Did a Nation Who Witnessed Miracles Keep Grumbling?
How can we reconcile a nation that reached such spiritual heights with such faithlessness?
Freeing Yourself from the Demons of Your Past
Becoming free is a long, difficult journey. But we can only begin by splitting our sea, by realizing that only G‑d has power over us.
The Freeman Files
Manna in a Basket
Think of everything you have as manna from heaven and you will never be dissatisfied.
Existence is greater than any miracle. There is no reason that there should be anything at all.
Miraculous Obstacles
Obstacles are miracles waiting to happen.
Being Paradox
Splitting the Sea
If you catch yourself fitting into a definition, contradict it.
Splitting the Sea
The first step to finding meaning is to see beyond the material world.
Manna in a Basket
Think of everything you have as manna from heaven and you will never be dissatisfied.
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