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Parshah Columnists

Guest Columnists
Escaping Dostoevsky's Polar Bear
It is natural and normal to experience anxiety and fear. The Chassidic masters provide a formula for exchanging it for positive, uplifting thoughts.
The Signposts Along My Road Towards a Torah-Observant Life
I had always felt like a fraud in a church, quite torn, but didn’t know how to begin to live life as a Jew. So I slogged along, well into middle age, not knowing where to begin.
The Right to Pursue Holiness
Laws protect our safety, ensure rights, resolve conflicts and bind us as a society. Without the underpinning of both righteousness and mercy, however, the resulting society we could create would be neither just nor holy.
A Matter of Trust
We spend our youth building up cynicism, and then we are suddenly expected to make all those big life changes, like marriage and kids, that require faith in our fellow human beings, not to mention in ourselves . . .
Your Child, Your Tree
When you come to think of it, a child needs the very same things a tree does in order to grow: "earth," "water," "sun" and "air"
The Final Frontier of Security
We know how to keep the burglars, terrorists and spammers out. Ironically, however, we still remain vulnerable to trespass of a different kind...
Are You Objective?
The Torah cautions us that the danger of bribery is not merely a possibility, nor even a probability. It is an automatic effect. We are all judges, all of the time . . .
Do I Need to Be Perfect in Order to Repent?
Simply put—you want to fix what you broke? The first step is to get “tamim.” But what does “tamim” mean?
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.
Wedding Speeches for Shoftim
Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue!
In Hebrew, the word tzedek, which means “justice,” also means “righteousness.” Perhaps the dual use of the word “justice” means that we cannot pursue “justice” without also being “righteous.”
The Tree of Man
Man is compared to a tree. We must produce fruits with seeds for new trees and new fruits. This will cause all of creation to blossom.
On Attempting to "Understand" Torah
An Essay on Ki Teitzei
One end of the Torah is here on earth and the other end is in heaven, and it is on this bridge that G-d wants us to walk.
Can the Rabbinic Mitzvot Be Counted?
Why would Maimonides go to such extraordinary lengths to list all the Biblical commandments and then fall entirely silent when it comes to the Rabbinic ones?
Is Your Body Yours?
The ancient Greeks were fascinated with the human body, glorifying it and marveling at its finesse and power.
If Your Soul Could Speak, What Would It Say?
Most of us safeguard our computers from contracting harmful viruses, but are we as concerned about our own spiritual contamination?
Torah Insights
Is Justice for All?
All agree that justice is important, but justice is elusive. Even in this great country, in the 21st century, there are serious questions whether our criminal justice system has a long way to go to ensure that every individual can expect equal access to justice.
The Problem With Astrology
The prophet and the astrologer are not actually in the same line of business. Their mission statements could not be further apart.
Holy Witnesses
A deeper perspective on the function and purpose of witnesses.
Weekly Sermonette
The Unsolved Murder
A look at the unusual way Torah mandates that the community leaders respond to the finding of a murder victim out in the field.
Spirituality Made Simple
What is the difference between spirituality and spiritualism?
Here Comes the Judge
A teacher once conducted an experiment. He held up a white plate and showed it to the class. In the center of the plate was a small black spot. He then asked the class to describe what they saw.
Cowards of the World, Unite!
The fearless few who throw caution to the wind and heedlessly plunge into every offered challenge are indeed strange exceptions to our race. So where do all our heroes come from?
Parshah Moment
Being Simple
The simple faith of a sophisticated man has more dimensions and a richer texture . . .
For Friday Night
Is My Body Mine?
My body is "me," so why should anyone else care? Why should the Torah care? Why should the Torah give rules for how I treat my own body?
Resisting the Pressure
The asheira was a beautiful tree which was so enchanting that people used to worship it...
Perspectives on Authority
There will be no police during the Messianic Era. What then will motivate people to that which is right?
Weekly Torah
Don't Get Bribed!
Guarding the Gates
Parshah Messages
An Impartial Judge
Can a bribed judge be impartial? How about if the “bribe” was given on the condition that the judge issues a fair verdict—no matter whom it will favor?
The Human Traffic Sign
He was standing at the entrance of the strip mall, his front and back covered by identical, cumbersome cardboard signs. He was still there a few hours later when I returned from the synagogue . . .
Life's Passages
Squirrels on Our Roof!
Shoftim
Just as I would be falling into a deep sleep, I’d waken to the sound of crashing.
Thinking or Feeling - Which Is More Important?
The tree’s greatest benefit is the fruit it produces; man’s greatest hallmark is the fruit of his intellect—the knowledge being absorbed by his emotions to create the proper feelings, and then actions.
Living through the Parshah
The Blame Game
While no one will argue that man’s psyche is a tabula rasa, the question is: to what extent do we control the choices that we make? Whom can I blame? Where does my choice begin?
Roots of Resilience
There is something very grounding about trees. They are solid, stationary and easy to hug. And, with roots knotted firmly in the soil and a dense net of branches that dance at its head, a tree can help anchor a lost and disoriented person . . .
Inner Stream
The Oys and Joys of Parenting
If, as the Torah says, humans are similar to trees, then parenting is a lot like gardening. You can read about it in books, but you don’t know what you’re doing until you get your hands dirty.
Dying for Life
The biblical laws of war have much to teach us about the routines of life in every age
The Torah of Humility
The challenge a king faces is one that every Jewish leader wrestles with.
Parshah Musings
Perfection
Funerals are always sad, but do you know when they are truly tragic? When the mourners are too busy fighting among themselves to really pay their respects to the departed.
Tsuris
Are You a Monarchist?
If, as is commonly accepted, absolute power corrupts absolutely, given the choice, aren’t we far better off as a democratic meritocracy?
Manipulation
The Torah describes man as the "tree of the fields." I've personally never understood the analogy. What character traits or growth-ring patterns can a tree achieve to compare to ourselves?
Here Comes the Judge
The judges who spoke at the course went to great pains to impress upon us that they saw themselves as disinterested umpires. In contrast, the primary role of a dayan is to determine the truth...
What Do You Think?
Leave the Do-Gooders Alone
Just because you decided against leaving your footprints in the sands of time, that's no excuse for knocking other people off their feet.
The Freeman Files
Do (Normal) Jews Believe in Prophecy?
We've had Nostradamus up to our noses, Bible Codes out of our ears, and every brand of pundit and prophet. Is there anyone out there with some bona fide inside information that'll help me sleep better at night?
We Are One
Some folks think of people much as we think of cars on a highway: each with its own origin and destination, relating to one other only to negotiate lane changes and left-hand turns. But people are not cars.
No Fear
What the Rebbe Taught Me
The Blessing and Virtue of Cross-Eye
Have you ever wondered why many of our body parts were created in pairs? Through the paradox of right and left, our vision is broadened, deepened.
Comment
What You Obviously Don't Know
One of the most fascinating clauses in the Torah's criminal justice system is the law of the "indefensible criminal." If the evidence against the accused is so compelling that not a single one of the 23-member tribunal is inclined to argue in his favor, he cannot be convicted!
Packaging
The whole fruit business is a scam
Make Yourself Useful
There's nary a shul bench in Mineola or a park bench in Jerusalem that does not bear the inscription "In memory of ...." Is that what it's about -- memorializing the dead? or is there something more significant at play here?
Parshah Recovery
Take It As It Comes
If we cannot give up our worries about the future, then our trust in Him is tenuous, conditional and half-hearted. What we are really telling G‑d is that our relationship with Him is conditional.
More Parshah Articles
What Is Prophecy?
How does one become a prophet? What is it like to experience prophecy? Does prophecy exist today?
Covenant & Conversation
The Ecological Imperative
What Shabbat does for humans and animals, the Sabbatical and Jubilee years do for the land.
The Greatness of Humility
Great leaders have many qualities, but humility is usually not one of them. With rare exceptions they tend to be ambitious, with a high measure of self-regard. They expect to be obeyed, honored, respected, even feared.
Greatness is Humility
The arrogance of power is its downfall. Hubris leads to nemesis.
Testing Prophecy
How does one tell a true prophet from a false one?
Because a prophet has privileged access to the word others cannot hear and the visions others cannot see, the real possibility existed of false prophets.
Beyond Speech
On the Haftarah: Seeing Only the Beauty
For the haftarah of Shoftim, From the Teachings of the Rebbe
From above, everything is perfect; from below, things can be perceived as flawed.
Closer to G‑d, Closer to Your Spouse
As there are no coincidences, we must ask ourselves: What lesson can we learn here?
The King's Hidden Torah
Isn’t one Torah enough? Why did a king need two? What point is there in having a Torah kept in his treasury?
The King and the Nassi
The king is like the heart of the Jewish people, because all of Israel is dependent on the king.
You Must Be a Mentch
The main purpose of the essence of the intellect, to change the nature of the emotions.
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