Moshe, the people & spiritual evolution (VaEra)

Shabbat shalom, Chodesh Tov, and thank you so much for having me. Today I’d like to speak about an important topic that gets to the roots of the Torah: EVOLUTION.…

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The dangers of deconstruction (Bemidbar)

Parshat Bemidbar contains a detailed census of Bnei Yisrael, as well as instructions about how the Mishkan (Tabernacle) should be transported as Bnei Yisrael journey through the desert. However, even…

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Errors in Emunah (Tazria)

While Parshat Tazria begins with the laws of childbirth, the major focus of this and the following parsha are the laws of Tzora’at. But while many commentaries highlight the association…

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Educating awe of God (Shemini)

For the past two months, the weekly Torah reading has almost entirely discussed details about the Mishkan. However, it is only in Parshat Shemini when the Mishkan completes its transformation…

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Hasbara for Torah observance (Vayikra)

Parshat Vayikra concludes with the laws concerning guilt offerings for theft, and it is here where we learn that if someone has stolen an object then they are required by…

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Celebrating spiritual growth (Pekudei)

Upon the completion of the Mishkan, we are told: ‘Moshe saw the entire work and lo! they had done it (וְהִנֵּה עָשׂוּ אֹתָהּ); as God had commanded, so had they…

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Living in His shadow (Vayakhel)

In Parshat Vayakhel, we read how the construction of the Mishkan was overseen by its chief architect Betzalel, and according to numerous sources, it was this role as architect of…

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Standing up for God and Torah (Ki Tissa)

In Parshat Ki Tissa we read about the episode of the Egel Hazahav (golden calf) that Bnei Yisrael built in Moshe’s absence. On his return, Moshe broke the luchot (tablets),…

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A Torah diet and an olive tree (Tetzaveh)

Around six months ago we were blessed to purchase a house in Israel, and among the trees that the previous owner had planted in the garden is a pomelo, pomegranate…

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Make your shul a true Mishkan (Terumah)

Parshat Terumah begins with the instruction to construct a Mishkan (a tabernacle), and then proceeds to record the detailed measurements and necessary materials in order to do so. Among the…

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Answers that are both true and correct (Mishpatim)

Last Shabbat we read Parshat Yitro whose final verse informs us that the Kohanim were forbidden to ascend the altar on steps - which is why there was a ramp beside the…

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Think before you sing (Beshalach)

Parshat Beshalach is best known for the Az Yashir song that was sung by Bnei Yisrael upon crossing the Yam Suf. ‘On that day, Hashem saved Israel from the hand…

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The secret of Jewish continuity (Bo)

Parshat Bo describes the final three plagues that were meted out to the Egyptians, it details the laws of the Korban Pesach, and it instructs us to observe the laws…

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You cannot measure success just by numbers (VaEra)

Parshat Vaera begins with a series of verses that describe the five stages of redemption from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Land of Israel, the last of which…

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The power of the midwives (Shemot)

Early on in Parshat Shemot we are introduced to a new king of Egypt who is either unaware of the positive impact that Bnei Yisrael have had on Egypt, or…

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Live your life uniquely (Vayechi)

This Shabbat we read how Yaakov blesses each of his children before he dies, and what is particularly fascinating about these verses is that they highlight what Yaakov considered to…

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Bringing our family together in peace (Vayigash)

Following the dramatic moment when Yosef reveals himself to his brothers, he sends his brothers to collect Yaakov in order to bring him down to Egypt.  During this journey, ‘God…

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Pharoh and Al HaNissim (Miketz)

Parshat Mikeitz begins with a description of Pharoh’s two dreams, the first of which describes how seven lean cows ate seven fat cows, while the second describes how seven thin…

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How we live and how we advocate (Vayishlach)

One of the saddest moments throughout Tanach is found in Parshat Vayishlach when read about the death of Rachel who died while giving birth to her son Binyamin: ‘…as she…

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It’s never too early to pray (Vayetze)

Following his famous dream when en route to the house of Lavan, Yaakov makes a vow that ‘if God will be with me, if He will protect me on the…

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We must constantly dig (Toldot)

In this week’s parsha we read how Yitzchak redug the wells of water which his father, Avraham, had previously dug and that the Philistines had spitefully filled up with dirt.…

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All for the good (Chayei Sarah)

Our Parsha begins by informing us that Sarah died at the age of 127, and in response to the fact that the opening verse repeats that these were ‘the years…

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Seeing the Shechina in one another (Vayera)

Parshat Vayera begins with Avraham sitting outside his tent having recently undergone his brit milah. As Avraham lifted his eyes, he saw three strangers passing by and he exclaimed “My…

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Outreach by ideas, not just personality (Lech Lecha)

Parshat Lech Lecha begins by telling us how Avraham and Sarah heard the call of God to journey to the Land of Israel, and while the Torah informs us that…

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Speak up! (Noach)

Parshat Noach begins by telling us that “Noach was a righteous man, perfect in his generations” (Bereishit 6:9), and though many take these words on face value, Rav Yochanan understands…

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The sin of Adam (Bereishit)

Two of the most famous episodes in Parshat Bereishit are the sin of Adam & Chava (Bereishit Ch. 3) and the murder of Hevel by Kayin (Bereishit 4), and inspired by…

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Sukkot and Affluenza (Ha’azinu)

Then Yeshurun became fat and kicked (Devarim 32:15). This verse in Parshat Ha’azinu is the first occasion in Tanach where we encounter the name Yeshurun, and as is evident, its initial…

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What children teach us (Vayelech)

Parshat Vayelech teaches us about the mitzvah of Hakhel, which requires all men, women and children to gather and hear the king read from the Torah once every seven years…

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Showing and Sharing Torah (Ki Tavo)

The last of the curses listed in Parshat Ki Tavo is “Cursed is he who does not uphold and keep this entire Torah” (Devarim 27:26), thereby emphasizing the general message…

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What a judge should remember (Shoftim)

One of the most fascinating topics discussed in Parshat Shoftim is the hierarchy of the Jewish legal system. There we read that “if you are unable to reach a decision…

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Give what they need (Re’eh)

Among the many laws found in Parshat Re’eh is the instruction to provide the poor with whatever they need (see Devarim 15:7). Understood literally, it means that we must ensure that…

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Israel as a standard setter (Ekev)

As the Jewish people prepare to enter Eretz Yisrael, Moshe reminds them of the unique beauty and bounty of the land, telling them “your God is bringing you to a good land……

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Torah should be a free comodity (VaEtchanan)

Despite repeated pleading, Moshe is told by God that he will not step foot in Eretz Yisrael. Yet, notwithstanding his strong feelings of disappointment, Moshe channels his emotions and begins…

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Transparent institutions (Mattot-Masei)

Parshat Matot includes the request to Moshe from the tribes of Reuven and Gad to remain across the Jordan. Initially, Moshe seems resistant to this arrangement as it would mean…

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Earning our inheritance (Pinchas)

Parshat Pinchas contains a number of stories which seemingly have little in common. We read about Pinchas who killed Zimri & Kozbi, we are told of the census of the…

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What values do we value? (Balak)

At the beginning of Parshat Balak we read how Balak sent messengers to Bilam to ask him to 'put a curse upon this people'. However, having received an instruction from God that he…

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How we look at ourselves (Shelach-Lecha)

Parashat Shelach-Lecha describes the tragic episode of the meraglim – the spies, who were sent to journey around the land of Israel to find out ‘what kind of land it…

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The triple tragedy in the wilderness (Chukat)

According to tradition (Ta’anit 9a), Bnei Yisrael were sustained throughout their journey in the wilderness by water from a miraculous well which was provided in the spiritual merit of Miriam.…

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Being there (Balak)

This Shabbat in Israel we read Parshat Balak which tells the story of Bilam the prophet who went OTD (Off the Derech). Bilam was a man of considerable spiritual gifts,…

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Two kings & One crown (Pinchas)

This Shabbat in Israel we read Parshat Pinchas which describes the process by which Yehoshua was appointed successor to Moshe. Once Moshe was informed by G-d that Yehoshua was going…

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Acts of mercy, gifts of food (Ki Tavo)

This Shabbat we read Parshat Ki Tavo which describes the ritual of bringing the Bikkurim to the Kohanim in the Beit Hamikdash, and this Motzei Shabbat Ashkenazim begin reciting Selichot…

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A map to make the right choices (Nitzavim)

One of the most important ideas developed in the Torah is freedom of choice and consequence of actions, and perhaps the starkest expression of this idea is found in our…

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The song of Torah (Vayelech)

This Shabbat we read Parshat Vayelech which contains the instruction to “write for yourselves this song and teach it to the children of Israel” (Devarim 31:19). From this verse our…

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Share your Torah (Ha’azinu)

We’ve almost reached the end of the Torah and in Ha’azinu we find Moshe’s swan song in which he communicates some of the most important lessons he has learnt throughout…

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The meaning of Reishit (Bereishit)

This Shabbat we restart our reading of the Torah with Parshat Bereishit, and as Rabbi Sacks has previously pointed out (Three Approaches to Halacha, 1987), the very first word of…

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Making the wrong choice (Noach)

Following the flood that destroyed almost human being on earth, we are told that Noach planted a vineyard, drank of the wine, became drunk, and then uncovered himself in his…

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On valuing people and valuables (Lech Lecha)

If you take a close look at Parshat Lech Lecha it becomes evidently clear that a major theme in the parsha is the relationship between Avraham and his nephew Lot,…

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Beautiful name, Ugly deeds (Toldot)

In Parshat Toldot we are introduced to Yaakov and Esav. Yaakov was an איש תם, literally ‘a simple man’, but as Rashi explains (on Bereishit 25:28), this term also refers…

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Revelation and vulnerability (Vayetze)

Parshat Vayetze begins with the famous dream of Yaakov in which he sees angels ascending and descending a ladder resting on the group and reaching into heaven. The dream is…

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The danger and duty to stand alone (Vayishlach)

Parshat Vayishlach describes the events leading up to, and including, Yaakov’s confrontation with Esav, and it is while travelling towards Esav that we are told about Yaakov’s encounter with an…

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Not in God’s name (Miketz)

Parashat Miketz tells the dramatic story of Yosef's sudden rise power and his harsh treatment of his brothers. Having accused his brothers of coming to Egypt with the intention of…

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The test of the manna (Beshalach)

In Parshat Beshalach we read about the manna – the heavenly bread – which the Bnei Yisrael received as a divine gift six days a week, with a double portion…

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Hearing with our eyes (Yitro)

Among the many unique aspects of Matan Torah we are told that “all the people saw the sounds, the flames, the blast of the ram’s horn and the mountain smoking”…

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Shabbat and our inner Mishkan (Terumah)

Parshat Terumah focusses on the building of the Mishkan, and it is here – and in the following parshiot – where we are given detailed information about the fittings and…

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Economic equality in the Midbar (Vayakhel-Pekudei)

When describing the voluntary donations to the Mishkan, Parshat Vayakhel informs us that both ‘men and women, all whose hearts moved them’ (Shemot 35:22,29) made contributions, which included the different…

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Atonement through Chessed (Vayikra)

This Shabbat we begin our reading of Sefer Vayikra, and a major part of the book concerns itself with the laws of korbanot (sacrifices). As the Torah explains, the primary…

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Starting your day right (Shmini)

Parshat Shmini begins on the eighth and final day of the inauguration of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), and it was meant to be a day of pure celebration. Having invested so…

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Remember you’re unique (Tazria-Metzora)

In Parshiot Tazria-Metzora we learn about the Tzora’at affliction which, we are told, appears in response to a variety of spiritual failings - including lashon hara. As such, it would…

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Make Jewish observance easier (Beha’alotecha)

Parshat Beha’alotecha begins with the instruction to light the Menorah in the Mishkan, and though not explicit in the verse, our Rabbis explain that the Kohen would stand on a…

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When words come to an end (Korach)

This Shabbat we read about two groups who challenged Moshe & Aharon in the wilderness. One was Korach and his followers who challenged the priestly prerogatives, and the second was…

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Book burning and collective loss (Chukat)

This Shabbat we read Parshat Chukat which begins with the law of the Parah Adumah (Red Heifer) whose ashes purified the impure, and ‘impurified’ the pure. Interestingly, according to the…

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The transformative waters of Torah (Balak)

Some of the most exquisite words of prophecy found throughout Tanach are uttered by Bilam in this week’s parsha where he extols the virtues of the Jewish people. Certainly, the…

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Family is Family (Devarim)

Parshat Devarim is Moshe’s ‘Last Lecture’ where he reviews the journey of the Jewish people, highlights where they erred, and reviews the laws and values that they should follow upon…

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Half-measures (VaEtchanan)

This Shabbat we read Parshat VaEtchanan in which Moshe reminds the people about the importance of maintaining their commitment to G-d and Torah especially once they enter the Land of…

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Troubled children and children in Trouble (Ki Tetze)

One of the many (challenging) laws found in Parshat Ki Tetze is that of the ‘wayward and rebellious son’ (Devarim 21:18-21). According to a literal reading of this law, a…

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On death and rebirth (Ki Tavo)

Towards the end of Parshat Ki Tavo we encounter one of the most cryptic verses in the Torah, yet upon closer inspection, perhaps one of the most important. Having outlined…

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Tremping & Talking in Learning (Nitzavim-Vayelech)

“It is in your mouth and in your heart to do it” (Devarim 30:14) In this week’s parshiot Moshe emphasises the value of Torah study and how our choices should be…

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Arguing Together (Toldot)

This Shabbat we read Parshat Vayetze, and it is noteworthy that the opening pesukim of our parsha are the basis for some of the most creative and inspiring midrashim found…

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Fighting your past to bless your future (Vayishlach)

This Shabbat we read Parshat Vayishlach which tells us about the fight between Yaakov and an angel. Of course, there are many profound lessons that we can learn from this…

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Real leaders cry (Vayigash)

There is no doubt that one of the most emotional moments throughout the Torah occurs in Parshat Vayigash when Yosef reveals himself to his brothers. Yet it is noteworthy that…

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Our outstretched Hands (Bo)

Parshat Bo tells the incredible story of how Bnei Yisrael transform from being a slave nation to a free nation. However, if we look a little closer in the Torah…

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Sefer Devarim as the ultimate Mussar Sefer

Last Shabbat we began reading Sefer Devarim, often referred to by its rabbinic name Mishne Torah, which on first glance is a summary of the previous four books of the…

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Mishpatim

Parshat Mishpatim is the primary source of Jewish tort law and it is where we learn about the four Avot Nezikin (primary forms of damages). According to the Mishna (Bava…

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