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Parshah Columnists

Guest Columnists
Winning Over Hearts and Minds
A person can be expected to think a certain way, but a person cannot be expected to feel a certain way.
Do You Hear?
The 10 Commandments had no echo. What was the point of this miracle?
Knowledge
“What have you been doing for the last year?” asked the incensed father-in-law. “What have you accomplished wasting your time by those wild men?” “I learned that G‑d creates the world,” answered the young man.
Echoes
They entered me like tiny pieces of a puzzle that found the space, or impression, that was carved exactly to fit their dimensions. Then they would snap together, forming sentences and paragraphs and concepts...
The Ten Commandments of Marriage
When we look more deeply into the Ten Commandments, we will find not only spiritual advice for enhancing our marriages, but very practical and essential guidelines as well.
To Study Our Children
How often are we left unmoved by a truth because we are self-consciously aware of the ramifications of accepting such truths?
A Linguistic Solution to Marital Anger
In the Torah, a single word often appears in an unusual fashion that draws the eye. One such word appears in the beginning of this week's reading. I will attempt to show how this word offers a solution to marital anger.
Making Judaism Relevant
If G‑d was trying to give His best credentials to His newly acquired nation, why would He choose to mention the exodus? Isn't the creation of the heavens and earth a far greater feat?
Why a Mezuzah Is Not a Mezuzah
If not for the scrolls, there would be no reason for plain old doorposts...
Power Outage
When G-d does make demands of me, they tend to be in trivial areas—but areas that hit me where it counts.
Who’s Gonna Know?
While we hope that someone, somewhere, takes notice whenever we “do the right thing,” as long as we are driven by the need for that external recognition, we are vulnerable and can be inconsistent.
Listen to Shema’s Inner Message
The two enlarged letters in the Shema reveal the mission of the Jewish people and the fusion of faith and knowledge.
Torah Insights
Cover Your Eyes
Two spouses don’t seem to be able to relate to each other. Their values differ considerably; they don’t see the world the same way. Is their relationship doomed to failure? Is there anything they can do to strengthen the bond and enhance their closeness?
Seeker of Wisdom
We are all teachers in life. When we come across a child—or a grownup who is spiritually still a child—it is our obligation to see “the seeker of wisdom” within this child.
Hear the Oneness
G‑d is the one truth that pervades all existence and we, in turn, must create that oneness within our hearts.
Weekly Sermonette
The Never Ending Voice
Revolutions may come and go but revelation is eternal
Ten Commandments - Not Multiple Choice
Seeing as in this week’s Parshah Moses reviews the Big Ten, why not go through the list to see how we score?
"Your Money or Your Life?"
In the Pidyon HaBen ceremony one finds a very strange dialogue between the father and the Kohen. "Which do you prefer," asks the Kohen, "your first born son, or the five silver shekels?"
In Good Times and Bad
Moses is teaching us is to remember G‑d as the source of our good fortune, too, not only in our hours of hardship.
For Friday Night
Progress and Challenge
"When G-d gave the Torah," our Sages write, "He opened the seven firmaments for the Jewish people. Just as He tore open the upper realms, so He tore the lower realms. They saw that G-d is the ultimate reality." What does this mean? Obviously, some kind of spiritual revelation. But what was it that they saw? what are the "upper realms" and the "lower realms" which g-d "tore open" for us?
Being Alive to the Full
"And you who cleave to G-d, are all alive today" (Deuteronomy 4:4). To "cleave" means to join together, to be one. How can this word apply to the relationship of a tiny human being and boundless, eternal G-d?
Expressing Oneness: The Shema Prayer
What does it mean to "lengthen" the echad ("one") of the Shema?
The Power of Comfort
The cycle of moving from darkness to light is expressed on this Shabbat, the Shabbat after the ninth of Av, the fast which commemorates the destruction of both the first and second Temples in Jerusalem.
Living through the Parshah
Fusing Idealism and Realism
To be an idealist you cannot consider the resistance that you may encounter while implementing your dreams. Pure idealism follows the dictates of truth alone. On the other hand, without realistic thinking my dreams would stay in the world of fantasy...
Life's Passages
The Cry That Went Unheeded
Va'etchanan
There are times when your love for another is so strong that it supersedes even your greatest dreams and aspirations.
The Second Consolation
Torah study or prayer? Man or Woman? A transcendent perspective or an emphatic view? Two pathways through life, and two consolations in the future redemption...
A Psychotherapist’s Shema in Auschwitz
Vaetchanan
What is it about the Shema Yisroel prayer that has inspired so many through the most trying of times and has provided such meaning and purpose to help us survive even the most despairing circumstances?
Parshah Moment
The Shabbat Man
Some called him Reverend Abrahamson. Others called him Cantor. My father called him Chazzan and bristled at the other names...
Parshah Messages
Adult Education
Just as education is meant to last a lifetime, the methods used to educate children should also remain with them for the duration of their adulthood.
The Ten Commandments: The Inside Story
The Ten Commandments lay the foundation for our relationship with G‑d and our fellow man. Here’s how . . .
True Love
Why is a transcendent feeling like love so contingent on actions? While the question may sound profoundly philosophical, the answer is quite simple . . .
Conversation Tips from Sinai
In our nation's 3,300 year history, G‑d has directly addressed us exactly once. In doing so, G‑d also left us a perfect prototype to follow on those occasions when we really want our words to be taken seriously...
Parshah Musings
Understatement
“Who took you out of Egypt”? Talk about sweating the small details! What about “who created heaven and earth”? Surely stage-managing the Exodus doesn’t even approach His role as designer and creator of the universe!
Famous Last Words
Have you ever caught yourself contemplating your own mortality? What will people think about you when you're gone? Will it really matter once you're gone?
Echo! Echo!
The awesome sounds of G‑d resonated throughout the universe... but there was no echo. The greatest sound and light show in history was a strictly one-time production with no residuals or encore.
The Law of Inertia
At times of maximum vulnerability, people tend to gravitate to the sanctuary of their faith, hoping to ride out the hard times under Judaism's shelter.
Inner Stream
Living for G-d
Does it Permeate?
Our sages explain that the Divine voice which broadcast the Ten Commandments did not have an echo. Why is the absence of an echo important?
Where G-d is Found
Where are you closer to G‑d: on a serene mountaintop surrounded by the beauty of nature, or on a loud, dirty street corner in the middle of an inner city?
Shema: ‘Pay Attention!’
When we are called to concentrate, we often find it difficult to do so.
What Do You Think?
You Can(’t) Help Yourself!
Therapists are nice (and expensive) and there are times when they are needed. But there are the times when all we need is someone who knows us, who cares for us, a wise person with a little life experience...
Parshah Blog
When Moses Demonstrated His Humanness
Are the two accounts reconcilable without psychologizing the moment? Is this simply the case of Moses, perhaps the greatest man in the history of the world, becoming vulnerable when his mortality is upon him?
What the Rebbe Taught Me
Spiritual Overdose
Reading the Bible, one is struck by the fact that its most monumental event, the transmission of the Ten Commandments, turn up twice. If the event happened once, why tell it twice?
Through the Eyes of a Woman
Four Stages in Torah Learning
Home in the womb, on the road of life, lying down in the grave, and waking up in the world to come . . .
Weekly Torah
Nachas...
The Freeman Files
Is G-d an It, an I, or Nothing?
Or: G-d's Sticky Fingerprints
What's the difference between No-thingness with a capital N and vanilla nothing with a lower case n? What makes one Nothing G-d and the other just nothing?
Black Leather Boxes
Tefillin
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 . . .
Comment
The Unbearable Heaviness of Being
So I don't exist. Or I don't exist and do exist at the same time. So what? I still have to get up in the morning, I still have to deal with my credit card balance, my mother-in-law, and this guy whose elbow is crushing my ribs on this crowded subway car. It might make interesting reading, but in the final analysis, what difference does it make?
Words in a Doorway
The things we do with words: mind, heart, speech, body and environment . . .
Consolation
When you’re feeling sad, do you go to your father or to your mother? Is it transcendence that you seek, or the solacing embrace that assures us that nothing is meaningless, that everything we are and feel can be borne, inhabited and redeemed?
The Ten Commandments Series
Billions of people have heard of the Ten Commandments. Less common, however, is the knowledge that this 10-point encapsulation of G-d's message to man reads in two directions: from top to bottom, and from side to side
Parshah Recovery
How Big is Your Higher Power?
To believe that the world is something separate, an entity unto itself, would be to accept that G‑d is not really everything. This would assume that He is one thing and that the world is another thing.
Covenant & Conversation
Making Love Last
Rituals are the framework that keeps love alive.
The Power of Why
How do great leaders inspire action?
The Fewest of all Peoples
Buried inconspicuously in this week’s parsha is a short sentence with explosive potential, causing us to think again about the nature of Jewish history and the Jewish task in the present.
The Right and the Good
Law is about universals, principles that apply in all places and times. Don’t murder. Don’t rob. Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Yet there are important features of the moral life that are not universal at all.
Beyond Speech
On the Haftarah: A Double Portion of Comfort
For the haftarah of Va'etchanan, From the Teachings of the Rebbe
The Ongoing Double Comfort
My wife, Dina, once asked: “When every month you were losing more and more abilities to ALS, you just said, ‘Let’s figure out how to deal with it.’ How come it didn’t seem to faze you?”
15 Av and ‘Nachamu’ Everlasting
The way our calendar is set up, Parshat Vaetchanan is always on Shabbat Nachamu, when we read the first haftarah of consoling.
Night and Day Become One
The life of a person is divided into days, and every day is divided into morning and evening.
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