Parshah Columnists

Guest Columnists
Get Anxious
On the final day of his life, Moses rejoiced when the people worried that the Levites would keep the Torah to themselves. This provides us with a lesson on how to approach our own Judaism.
The Obligation to Emulate G-d
Aside from the commandment to act with compassion and kindness, there is a commandment to do so with the appropriate motivation.
Can Everyone Be Happy?
How can the Torah expect everyone to be giddy about their chance to serve G-d? What if I’m not?
The Rebuke and the Unhappy Shoe Salesman
Do we look at G‑d’s commandments as responsibilities and chores? Or do we see a mitzvah as another opportunity to become closer to Him?
Two Aspects of Thanksgiving
The first approach reflects the depth of one’s faith, but is likely to be a very abstract and amorphous response. The second, steeped in intellect, may lack the spontaneity and power of the first, but truly penetrates the entire personality of the individual
Don't Think It - Say It
While it is true that actions speak louder than words, there is an element of appreciation that is expressed more by our words than our deeds...
The Six-Sentence Thank You
Couldn’t G‑d have given the poor farmer who traveled all the way to Jerusalem a simpler way of saying “thank you”?
Wedding Speeches for Ki Tavo
How Honest Do You Have to Be?
How many people craftily put forth a clean and honest image while every night they sweep their dirt under the proverbial carpet?
Blessings and Curses
An Essay on Ki Tavo
Why does the Torah cite only the curses and not use the positive language of the blessings?
Bikkurim: First Fruits
Even important personages, such as the king of Israel, placed baskets on their shoulders and proceeded until the Temple Courtyard.
Phishing for the Soul
The same way our inboxes get flooded with spam, our brains are spammed throughout the day with a bombardment of random thoughts, impulses and desires.
How to Cultivate Positivity Bias
Feeling grateful may not come naturally to you, but it can be developed, cultivated and maintained, just like a garden.
Torah Insights
Fruit in the Basket
The Kabbalists explain that ratzon, will and desire, is the most powerful force within the human being.
Celebrating the Mission Statement
Bringing bikkurim was more than just the Jewish farmer’s token of appreciation to G‑d for the blessings of the harvest.
Weekly Sermonette
The Wonder Doctor
Both men were so upset by their new circumstances that they refused to pay the doctor for his services. They argued that all he brought them was grief.
Jewish and Joyless
Where do we find our delight? Where is our enthusiasm and passion?
G-d in the Fast Lane
There are times when we make the effort and remain uninspired; and there are times when we become inspired effortlessly...
Jewish Joy
One of the prison guards told the Rebbe that when he beats a prisoner, he drinks his tea without its usual dose of sugar. Just watching the torture sweetened his tea... With a Jew, it's the other way around: knowing that a fellow's needs are unsatisfied somehow takes away the appetite for celebration, even if he personally may have reason to rejoice
Spiritual Security
Besides material support for the war effort, and in addition to tanks and fighter jets, Israel also needed spiritual support. There is a spiritual defense system, too, said the Rebbe
Life's Passages
It’s Not What, but How, You Give
Ki Tavo
Your children’s humble present meant so much to you because it was given with such love and joy.
The Secret to a Good Relationship
Ki Tavo
Naomi is married to a very busy, goal-oriented individual. She often laments how due to his overloaded schedule, they rarely spend quality time with each other . . .
For Friday Night
Happiness as an Acquired State
Joy is the key to inner mastery. It enables a person to win as a human being and as a Jew, despite the pain
Preparing for the Festival
The cleansing and scouring process before Rosh Hashanah is most intense, because it is in preparation for a greater and more wonderful revelation of the divine.
Parshah Messages
Thanksgiving: A Jewish Perspective
As Jewish citizens of this land, we always look to the Torah for a deeper perspective and additional insight. What light does the Torah shed on the wonderful trait of thankfulness?
Some questions don’t need to be asked – they jump out at you. Even if G-d intended to bring punishments on His people, what is the purpose in describing them in the Torah in such gruesome detail?
Weekly Torah
The Bigger Picture
Without collective achievement, we cannot achieve individual fulfillment.
What the Rebbe Taught Me
I'm a Jewish Body Part
The "personal" mitzvah of Bikkurim teaches that even as we explore our individual path towards G‑d, our personal journey and destiny is deeply intertwined with, and part of the process and progress of our nation.
Living through the Parshah
How the Chassidic Revolution Shook Society
A culture of emotional comatoseness and lethargy plagued Jewish living, until the Baal Shem Tov inspired a mass “re-Jew-venation.”
When Bad Is Good
Amongst those who commit themselves to the belief that everything is coming from G‑d and therefore is good, there are two levels...
Reflections on Forty Years of Leadership
How does a Moses say goodbye? What does a leader give to sustain his students for the time when he can’t give anymore?
Parshah Blog
"Accursed Will You Be..."
the warnings are not merely a scare tactic on behalf of G‑d and Moses, they are an actual description of the persecutions that the Jews will experience in the future.
Parshah Moment
Is It Dangerous to Go to Israel?
What is the danger of going? Something may happen. What is the danger of not going? Well, nothing. Nothing will happen.
Inner Stream
Reach Out
Why do we give so much away?
The Art of Gratitude
Abraham blazed the path of our destiny. Our ancestors paved that path with their suffering and tears. We are simply asked to accept it
The Stones in the River
If the intention was to display the Torah's teachings to all mankind, why were the stones plastered over with a coat of lime?
How to Grow a Relationship
Relationships can be said to progress along a path of four stages: proclamation, selection, glory and unification.
What Do You Think?
Get Back into Class!
Just like one needs to eat, sleep, exercise (oy!), and spend time with family, so too there is a need to learn, to open our minds to new ideas, explore new horizons.
Parshah Musings
Freeing the Trapped Sparks
The Freeman Files
Isn't there a Better Way?
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?
Enter Desire
You may not recognize what it is that you desire. And who knows what you might chase in your attempt to quench that desire? But you must enter it.
Celebrate the Journey
Many of us hold inside a deep, dark place. They call it “the abyss.”
Every Path Leads Home
They may give you money, they may give you every honor and pleasure of this world. But there is no person or thing in this world that can purchase your soul.
The Case of the Basket
That “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer” is a fact already noted by the Talmud some 1,500 years ago. But what’s so great about being rich, anyway?
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 . . .”
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.
Parshah Recovery
Is Unhappiness a Sin?
But is being unhappy a sin? How can one be punished for a thing like that? If G‑d punishes people for being unhappy, that would rather seem like kicking a man when he's down.
Covenant & Conversation
The Story We Tell
When we tell the story of our people’s past, we renew our identity. We have a context in which we can understand who we are in the present and what we must do to hand on our identity to the future.
We Are What We Remember
One reason religion has survived in the modern world despite four centuries of secularization is that it answers the three questions every reflective human being will ask at some time in his or her life: Who am I? Why am I here? How then shall I live?
A Sense of History
The significance of the first fruits declaration is that it is not about nature but about history: a thumbnail sketch of the sequence of events from the days of the patriarchs to the exodus and then conquest of the land.
A Nation of Storytellers
Stories give the group a shared identity and sense of purpose.
Beyond Speech
A Wise Heart
Just because someone is smart, doesn’t stop him from doing immature or stupid things . . .
Baskets of Love
For the common folk, this mitzvah was so precious. It represented the thrill of “I get to bring a gift to G‑d!”
On the Haftarah: Rise and Shine
For the haftarah of Ki Tavo, From the Teachings of the Rebbe
Break Out While Remaining In
Do a mitzvah in a truly transformative way, with our neshamah, breaking out of our current state.
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