Parshah Columnists

Guest Columnists
A Mirror Relationship: As Man Acts, G-d Reacts
Our life experiences are not random but significant—too important to be regulated by mere chance.
Curses of Happenstance
There’s a reason things happen a certain way, and whether or not we’re in on the plan, there’s a plan nonetheless.
Are Mysteries Supposed to Stay Mysteries?
Is it OK to sneak a peek behind the veil that shrouds the commandments and attempt to unravel their mysteries?
Can We Ever Really Change?
How can we change outward actions into penetrating, moving actions that transform our attitude?
Uncomfortable or Inspiring Truth? Depends How You Look at It
Why is it that two people can witness the same event but have opposite accounts of what transpired?
Are you hero or victim? The hero who never cries nor feels the fear, the panic, the regrets that are part and parcel of his condition? The victim who never encounters his bravery nor feels the transcendent power of rising above death, if only for a moment? Neither have bitachon...
Punishments or Gifts?
So, we answer the soul’s call. We learn about our roots, about the heritage bequeathed to us by our ancestors, and we make the transition to the Jewish way of life. Yet something is amiss . . .
Count Down to Charity
The wealthy fellow politely explained how he would love to give but can’t, because he already gave his share of charity for the year . . .
Effort That Really Counts
Unlike other sciences, Torah study is not about accumulating knowledge. Unlike other self-help books and religious manuals, the Torah is not only about learning “how” to observe . . .
Can You Get G-d?
In order to get some intimation of the Infinite One Who is beyond all conception, the mind naturally fills in what is inconceivable with ideas that are logical and comprehensible. A still deeper appreciation of Infinity thus requires a certain hollowing out of the mind.
Are You Missing the Entire Point?
An Essay on Parshat Bechukotai
It is only natural for a person to automatically justify the practices to which he has grown accustomed.
Torah: The Great Antidote
Life Lessons From the Parshah - Bechukotai
Weekly Sermonette
When the Torah reader came to the part of the curses, he lowered his voice and read in a softer tone. Suddenly, the Klausenburger Rebbe shouted: “Hecher! Louder!” The reader was confused. He was simply following the tradition of generations . . .
How Are We to View Jews by Choice?
Are converts looked down upon in Judaism?
Beyond Rebuke
A child knows intuitively that his mother loves him and wants only the best for him. Even if there seems to be a momentary lapse, he knows it will be short-lived
"I Will Remember"
How often do we hear the accusation that “Jews only look after their own?”
For Friday Night
How to Enjoy Judaism
There is an art in enjoyment. If you want to enjoy exotic food, delicate wine, music, mountains, paintings, poetry - there is a way to go about it...
Meaning and Chaos
In a few brush strokes, our Parshah outlines two pictures: one of "Redemption" -- national and individual wholeness; the other of Galut -- fragmentation and conflict
The Power to Reveal
We are presented with an image of harmony and peace which is the inner reality and destiny of the Jewish people. Yet that beautiful inner reality is often hidden by horrific events and dark periods of history.
Inner Realities
We tend to start out with rosy ideals or images of how good everything is going to be. Then, at some point, for many of us, we are challenged by situations which seem almost unbearable...
Life's Passages
Are People Inherently Good or Evil?
It’s a fundamental question that has been debated endlessly.
Growing Your Love
Every relationship needs an infusion of tender effort, thought and concern.
Parshah Messages
Heavenly Service, Earthly Rewards?
Can you find a competent electrician willing to do a job for, say, three candies an hour? How about a spiritual person willing to serve G‑d for material reward?
A Thought for the Week
The Engraved Letters
One’s study of Torah should be as letters that are hewn out of stone, not as letters of ink that are written on paper. What does this mean?
Parshah Musings
Never Retire
Advances in public health mean that people are living longer, and it is no longer economically viable to put people out to pasture for decades.
Buried Alive
It is a little known lowlight of history that the Nazis were avid Judaica collectors. Rather than destroy the artifacts and objets d'art they had captured, they preserved them and actively added to the collection...
Suffering Actuaries
Two of the seemingly least-related concepts in the Bible are found side by side in this week’s Torah reading.
Living through the Parshah
Disguised Blessings
When G-d communicates with us from a place closer to His essence, we don’t understand Him clearly. Was that a hug? ’Cause it felt like a slap in the face . . .
Is Obedience Obsolete?
Demanding obedience is a card parents often pull as leverage in a power struggle. But have the children learned anything meaningful?
What Do You Think?
What Are You Worth?
Is a person who built a beautiful marriage, raised healthy children and did his best to pay the bills, but whose bank account is in the four digits (or overdrawn by four digits), worthless?
Reflections on the Parshah
The Tremulous Heart
Anti-Semitism -- our fear of this scourge is deeply ingrained in our psyche. But how real is the threat?
What the Rebbe Taught Me
The Creator of MySpace
Where I come from, the powerful try to control the powerless, and the mighty retain their strength. So if I were G‑d, I’d have kept creation for myself. The Creator of creators, however, is clearly more trusting, and created our world not for power, but in order to empower . . .
Inner Stream
Promises and Consequences
The celestial benefits are the greatest motivators. Is it not curious that the Torah employs promises that are trivial by comparison as motivation for the performance of the statutes?
Effort That Has Value
Torah study is the only instance where labor without achievement is rewarded.
Parshah Moment
The Last Line
A courtroom. A judge reads off the charges. The defendant took his victim, drugged him, called in several of his assistants and methodically, with forethought cut the man's stomach open, removed organs, put in foreign substances...
Weekly Torah
Peace on Earth
Often we find ourselves in this position: Two sides, each trying to prove they are right, even using the Torah to back up their claims.
The Freeman Files
Does G-d Really Need to Punish the Wicked?
Obviously, the Egyptians did some really bad things, and something had to be done to free the children of Israel. But couldn’t G-d have found a more humane way to deal with the situation?
Does G-d Give Us Candies?
a) It's a phase we’re going through; b) It’s an empowerment thing; c) It’s the (spiritual) nature of things; d) Life is what you make it; e) Truth is in the externalities; f) It works.
The King, the Peasant and the Nightingale
The king commanded his coachman to halt at the peasant's door. "How are you enjoying my gift?" he inquired of his beloved subject
When Bad Things Happen
Bad things happen. They happen to good people. Contrary to common perception, bad things also happen to bad people. The difference is not so much in what happens, but in what happens to the person
Good Thinking
For several years now, positive thinking has been in vogue. But the New York Times reports on a group of psychologists who are “worried that we’re not making space for people to feel bad” and advocate a return to the psychologist’s original role of “focusing on mental illness and human failing . . .”
Parshah Recovery
Talk it Out Before Throwing it Out
Some people question the use of an alcoholic taking personal inventory and admitting to his wrongs early in sobriety. What's the point of trying to clean house when you still have the same character defects?
Parshah Stories
Beyond Paradise
Word resounded throughout the supernal worlds: "Because Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov has forced the hand of heaven to overturn the laws of nature, he has forfeited his portion in the World to Come"
Can a person be as grateful for his troubles as he is for his joys?
The Prodigy Under The Bed
From his hiding place, Rabbi Hillel heard the rebbe enter the room. But before he could make a move, he heard Rabbi Schneur Zalman exclaim: “If a young man has a question regarding ‘Appraisals,’ he had best first evaluate himself!”
The Mud Hole
Two lost souls, a wealthy businessman and his coachman, arrived in a city one Friday afternoon...
Covenant & Conversation
"We the People"
Among the most searing curses ever to have been uttered, the sages found a fleck of pure gold.
Beyond Speech
Who Am I to Be Great?
On the Haftarah: Strength, Trust, Hope and Healing
For the haftarah of Parshat (Behar) Bechukotai, From the Teachings of the Rebbe
What Happens When We Go Beyond the Natural
How does Rashi know that the blessing in Eikev is within nature and the blessing in Bechukotai is above nature?
Toiling in Torah
When there are multiple meanings of a Hebrew word, they must be connected in some way.
Torah Insights
Ten Women, One Oven
The Torah that we study must become part of us. It must not remain a distinct intellectual entity just sitting in our minds. The teachings must become part of our bloodstream, part of our character.
Self-Made Holiness
The Torah discusses two categories of holy animals which must be offered in the Temple.
Finding the Hidden Sweetness
Under the tragic circumstance of the exile, we realize that we are guarantors for each other because we are part of one whole.
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