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Lech Lecha Parshah Columnists

Guest Columnists
You Can Do the Impossible
Practical Insights on the Weekly Torah Portion from Rabbi Joshua B. Gordon.
Seeing Is Not Believing
When you choose to believe despite the viable, easy, and rational justifications, then you’re a true believer.
Do the (Spiritual) Math
The journey of actualization is to break free of limitations.
Abductions in the Torah
The women in Abraham’s family were abducted (or nearly abducted) no less than four times . . .
Our Lot in Life
No circumstance in life is so low and so depraved that no good can be gathered from it.
Keep on Trucking
On rare days, we coast along at the top of our game. On the bad days, we tumble out of control into a valley of problems and issues. Most days, we sit in traffic and question if we are moving at all...
Old Jew, New Tricks
It's said that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. This is especially true if the old dog's routines were successful. Why should he learn a new trick?
The Abraham Principle
The Logic of Faith
On closer inspection, it seems more akin to ecology than to ethical monotheism... yet this one elegant idea developed by a child some 3,800 years ago, has transformed the world forever
Pleased to Meet Me
Parshat Lech Lecha
Each Jew must look at him- or herself and ask the question, “Who am I? What do I believe?” For we are not intended to be robots; we must do, but we also must know and understand . . .
Oy to Joy
On the Significance of Circumcision
He doesn't understand; there's pain and hurt. And appreciation for all the symbolism, tradition and meaning are still many years away...
Seeing the Blessing
An Insight into Parshat Lech Lecha
I just received our monthly credit card bill. On it was a month's worth of food shopping, as well as my utilities and phone bills. There were no luxuries; everything was a bare necessity. I gasped when I saw the total. How are we going to make it?
What Is the Final Frontier?
Abraham’s mission was to explore the final frontier. Only there would he find his innermost identity. (parsha perks with Dr. Chighel | Lech Lecha)
The Challenge of Blind Faith
An Essay on Lech Lecha
Why should a person get up and leave – even if he is promised blessing and success – if there is seemingly no rhyme or reason for doing so? Nullifying the “why” is the challenge here, the true test of the trial of lech lecha.
Is There a Limit to Tolerance?
Why would we want to be shielded from Abraham? He was one of the all-time greats!
Was Abraham Hungry for Riches?
It is surprising to say that Abraham was concerned about his reward, when Maimonides singles out Abraham as a paragon of serving G‑d “purely out of love.”
Torah Insights
Focused Love
Despite the influence of Abraham’s ideas and beliefs, Ishmael would not be the one to receive the divine covenant and bear the eternal legacy of Abraham.
The Brand Name
The first to understand the power of branding was G‑d.
The Three Altars of Love
Who was Abraham? What did he stand for? What does he teach us?
Journey of the Soul
Abram’s physical journey was a symbol of his spiritual journey.
Weekly Sermonette
Leaving Home - For Good
A shadchan suggested a young lady to a fellow and absolutely raved about her. After their first date, the fellow calls up the matchmaker and gives him a piece of his mind. "How dare you introduce me to such a girl, didn't you know she limps?" Quite unflustered, the shadchan retorts, "But, what's the problem, it's only when she walks..."
Airport Story
Every rabbi has an airport story...
Are We as Numerous as the Stars?!
We Jews have never been into numbers.
Parshah Insights
The Burning Palace
A man was traveling when he saw a palace in flames. He wondered: "Is it possible that the palace lacks an owner?" Thus, says an ancient Midrash, Judaism was born
For Friday Night
Rags to Riches
A common theme in Jewish life is the "rags to riches" story...
Judaism, Reason and Beyond
The commentators explain Abraham's two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, as signifying Reason on the one hand, and the Jewish dimension beyond Reason...
Sharing the Light
G‑d told Abraham to travel, "Go for yourself." This meant a kind of descent, towards worldliness, in order to share further his wisdom with others...
Parshah Moment
Eagle or Teddy Bear?
Not only Teddy, but the One whom this nation pledges that it is under, has softened into someone cuddly to whom we intone pledges and sing that he bless us . . .
Inner Stream
What Is Judaism?
What does Judaism have that no other religion has? The only honest answer can be summed up in two words: Mount Sinai. G-d appeared to every single Jew at Sinai and gave us his Torah.
The True You
We all should ask this question: Somewhere beneath the vestments I wear and the roles I play lurks the real me, what does he look like? Who is he?
A Nation of Twinkling Stars
It was morning, and despite the elements, despite the obstacles, these hearty Jews were at synagogue. I realized that the Jew is indeed, as G‑d promised to Abraham, like the stars of the sky.
A Meeting of Two Souls
Her thoughtfulness changed all that; it turned our causal encounter into a meaningful exchange. I realized that she was a real person and not just a passing prop on the stage of my life...
Mr. Perfect
Born to idolatrous parents who raised him without G‑d, Abraham grappled with his faith until he discovered the existence of G‑d. What was effortless and facile for Noah was an arduous climb for Abraham...
In the Clouds or on the Streets?
Who is the true spiritual leader? Is it the venerable sage who sits alone, nose buried in an ancient tome, or the fellow on the streets, who guides the perplexed and who mentors seeking souls?
What the Rebbe Taught Me
Jew: Noun or Verb?
By keeping quiet about Abraham's beginnings, the Torah tells us all there is to know about ours
Wouldn't the Biblical narrative flow better if we knew a little more about Abraham, its main character? Why was he singled out for a resettlement mission that promised huge dividends? What had he done to merit fathering G‑d's chosen nation?
What Do You Really Want?
The Essence of Circumcision, the Essence of a Jew
The extraordinary message expressed by circumcision is what caused it to rise to the top of the list of rituals our enemies sought to eradicate time and again throughout our history. But what is this message?
Living through the Parshah
How Could Abraham Let Sarah Be Abducted?
Abraham’s plan would effectively remove himself from Pharaoh’s hit list . . . and make Sarah available for Pharaoh’s hedonistic abuse! Talk about a lack of chivalry! Is this Abraham, the first Jewish husband and the ultimate mentch?
The Beauty of Sarah
In a final summation of Sarah’s life, the Torah tells us two things—that she was beautiful and that she had a flawless character—her two great qualities juxtaposed.
Parshah Messages
A Journey with an Unknown Destination
The roadmap leading us on or spiritual journey has very precise directions. The only thing missing from the directions is the destination.
Never Too Old to Travel
The information the Torah “neglects” to tell us regarding Abraham and Sarah’s youth teaches a lesson about our spiritual journey through life.
Parshah Musings
Abraham was motivated by a love of truth, a fiery will and an aspiration to bring pleasure to his Creator. Seemingly he would be the last person to demand wealth and fame as rewards for his efforts!
Keeping It Personal
The Jerusalem phone book has a list of more than 1,500 free-loan societies
Smile for the Camera!
I’m not collecting trophies or notches on my belt . . .
What Do You Think?
Getting Started at 75
What did G‑d ask the "father of all religions" to do to celebrate 75? He asked him to move.
The Freeman Files
What's So Terrible About Idolatry?
I don't mean massive temples with human sacrifices. What about a civilized idolater, in the privacy of his own home? What's so terrible?
Should I Regret My Past Life?
So why should Abraham express remorse for his worship of the sun? It was that worship that brought him to the truth. It was his only path to the truth. If he had not taken that path, he could never have become Abraham, our father, the man who took on the entire world and turned it upside down.
Real Idols
Whatever you do, do it for real. There is no other way to find truth.
Go to Yourself
Lech Lecha
When your soul descends into the world of action, then every rule can be broken.
Traveling to Yourself
Every journey leads in one direction: Towards within.
Messing In
Even the wrong road eventually takes you closer to the truth. Even closer.
The River Up
Our destiny is determined, with one exception: Will we be the spectators, or the heroes?
Make It Your Own
Only once you have made it yours, then you can give it to others.
Our Mandate
From all the generations before us we inherited a wealth of dreams. Our generation’s mandate—and destiny—is to make the dream real.
The Source
The values essential to humanity’s survival rely on an understanding that we did not create this universe.
It's Been Done Before
Sometimes it can be frustrating being a Jew. No matter what you do, one of your grandfathers or grandmothers has already done it. How can one ever do anything original with such ancestors?
The Quest for Self
Unlike mice, maple trees and angels, who are content to be what and where they are, the human being is constantly "on the go", forever striving to get somewhere, preferably somewhere where no one has been before. The problem is, there's nowhere left to go
The First Jew
To be a Jew is to be constantly moving from what you are to what you can be, and from what you have made of yourself to yet a deeper truth of what you are
Great Wealth
The very unnaturalness of galut, its very strangeness, is at the root of all that the Jew has accomplished and achieved, both for himself and for the world....
Life's Passages
Why a Seed Grows in Darkness
Lech Lecha
When you’re feeling distraught, what do you do to calm yourself? Do you try a new experience or do you revert to what is familiar to you?
Was Abraham the First Feminist?
“And Sarai, His Wife”
Even in modern times, when we have reached unprecedented advances in the treatment of women, we need to rethink and challenge our value system.
Finding G-d During Tough Times
Lech Lecha
Even when we are experiencing our personal famines, our relationship with G‑d is still present and accessible.
Behind Every Great Man...
"In Sarah's Merit"
Abraham’s greatness allowed him to recognize and submit to his wife’s power--and to realize that she had abilities that he did not.
What's Good About Wealth?
Lech Lecha
Is money good or bad? Is it only a means to an end, or is there some intrinsic spirtiual component to money that makes it so powerful?
How to Be a Taker
“And Sarah gave her to Abram her husband to be his wife”
Have you ever experienced a level of altruistic giving? How about absolutely selfless taking?
Can a Change of Name Create a Change of Destiny?
What influence does your name have on you--on your personality, on your behavioral patterns and on your life choices? Or does it?
Are the Jews Humanity's Moral Compass?
Lech Lecha
Most of humanity would rather yield to the prevailing status quo and social pressure than deviate from its accustomed behaviors.
Parshah Recovery
Leaving Self to Find Yourself
We need to examine the story of Abraham for inspiration and instruction—for our stories in recovery have followed this same pattern.
Covenant & Conversation
Four Dimensions of the Journey
Only a person willing to stand alone, singular and unique, can worship the G‑d who is alone, singular and unique.
Inner Directedness
On Being a Jewish Parent
Abraham the father and Sarah the mother are our enduring role models of parenthood as G‑d’s gift and our highest vocation.
The Courage Not to Conform
Leaders lead. That does not mean to say that they don’t follow. But what they follow is different from what most people follow.
The Birth of Moral Selfhood
"Leave your land, your birthplace and your father's house, and go to the land I will show you." These words are among the most consequential in the history of mankind
Beyond Speech
First, Experience the Connection
Abraham was the first Jew. His life is a lesson on what being a Jew is all about.
On the Haftarah: Powerful Mouths
For the haftarah of Lech Lecha, From the Teachings of the Rebbe
Turning Pain Into Purpose
Here is one of the ideas that has kept me positive since I was diagnosed with ALS.
A Call to Every Jew
Lech Lecha is a call to every Jewish person, to do all you can to complete the mission and make this world into a home for G-d.
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