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THE LEAST COMFORTABLE PATH


Recently, my wife and I visited Ma’aras Hamachpaila, the Cave of Machpaila in Chevron, the burial place of our Fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and our Mothers Sarah, Rebeccah and Leah as well as Adam and Eve. Standing before the ancient stone building, we felt the kedusha wash over us. 

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BEYOND NATURE


We learn from our Father Abraham that we are different from all other nations. We are directly connected with the Master of the World; we are not bound by the laws of nature. 

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THE OLIVE TREE


The High Holidays are a massive spiritual mountain. Wherever we are on that mountain, we have a lot of climbing to do.  

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A HUMBLE MAN RIDING UPON A DONKEY


In this week’s Torah Portion, life on this planet is destroyed. I believe the Torah is showing us that everything in the material world is vulnerable. Since mankind has left the Garden of Eden, life has been a cycle of destruction and rebirth. We depend on Hashem’s promise of techias Hamaisim (Resurrection of the Dead). Just as “Noah” is the second Torah Portion, so “Techias Hamaisim” is the second blessing in Shemoneh Esreh: “And You [Hashem] are faithful to revive the dead!” 

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A WORLD OF LIGHT


The sukkah is the most amazing place in the world.  

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WHY DID HASHEM CREATE DARKNESS?


Early this summer, my wife and I flew to Moscow. We left New York in the afternoon. I davened mincha (the afternoon prayer) on the plane and waited for dark so that I could daven maariv (the evening prayer).  

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THE FIFTEEN-FOOT LADDER


There is a store in Lakewood, New Jersey where I buy hats and shoes. This place has my extremities covered. (I guess the soul is my responsibility!) I want to tell you why I like this store. Mr. Aaron Yosef Schreiber puts his soul into this business. I like to patronize stores where someone cares. I dislike chain stores, where you can stand on line at the checkout for an hour and no one is interested. They get a salary with or without you. 

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THE LAST EXILE


“Ki seitzei … When you go out to war against your enemies ….” (Dvarim 21:10) 

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THE CONCEPT OF MONARCHY


Recently, my wife and I were privileged to travel to Russia for a brief but fascinating trip under the leadership of Rabbi Aryeh Katzin, a principal force behind Russian kiruv in the U. S. Rabbi Katzin heads RAJE (Russian-American Jewish Experience) and founded Sinai Academy. He grew up under Communism in Russia, learned Torah in Yerushalayim, and was recruited some thirty years ago by leading American rabbis, principal among them Rabbi Elya Svei zt”l

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THE ANATOMY OF LOSHON HARA


This Shabbos and Sunday are Rosh Chodesh Elul! One month until Rosh Hashanah!   

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A PINHOLE


We are now in the Season of Teshuva (repentance). Next Shabbos is Rosh Chodesh Elul, but – after all – the entire summer is a time of teshuva. Is this not what The Three Weeks are all about? 

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SHEMONEH ESREH AS A PATH TO TESHUVA


“Va-eschanan…. [and Moshe Rabbeinu] implored Hashem at that time.” (Deuteronomy 3:23) 

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THERE MAY YET BE HOPE!


“Eulogize the pious and proper ones who sank in the treacherous waters. At the memory of this, my soul is grieved.” (Kinnah 22, Tisha B’Av) 

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“YOUR THOUGHTS ARE NOT MY THOUGHTS”


“These are the commandments and the ordinances that Hashem commanded through Moses to the Children of Israel in the plains of Moav at the Jordan River by Jericho.” (Numbers 36:13) 

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COVENANT OF PEACE


As the Three Weeks begin, we hear news that the government of Great Britain intends to implement rulings that would force all schools in England to adhere to a curriculum which is antithetical to Truth as revealed by the Torah. 

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TORAH TAVLIN


Why do people hurt themselves? 

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FIRE


Every day in davening we say: “V’ha’ofanim v’chayos hakodesh … Then the Ofanim and the holy Chayos… raise themselves toward the Seraphim facing them. They offer praise and proclaim: Blessed is the glory of Hashem from His Place.” What are Ofanim, Chayos and Seraphim? They are heavenly beings, but how are we to relate to them?  

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KETORES


What can we learn from the frightening events described in this week’s Torah Portion, Korach

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WE WILL BE LIKE DREAMERS


The American Dream. 

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TRAVELING WITH THE ARON


There is a unique passage in this week’s Torah portion. 

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THE LEMON TREE


In Israel we have a small garden behind our home. It has a border of soil, maybe two feet wide. Not much space, but there are beautiful flowers. My wife, bli eyen hara, understands plants, and this place looks like Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden) to me. Besides the flowers, there are a few trees. One is a lemon tree. 

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THE HIDDEN WORLD


“The heavens declare the glory of G-d, and the expanse of the sky tells of His handiwork. Day following day brings expressions of praise, and night following night bespeaks wisdom. There is no speech and there are no words; their sound is unheard.” (Psalm 19) 

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THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL


I love the season of Sefiras Ha Omer, the forty-nine days between Passover and Shavuos during which we count the Omer. They are elevated above ordinary days. They themselves feel like a Yom Tov! In fact, the Ramban, in his commentary to Leviticus 23:36, explains that Shavuos is related to Passover as Shemini Atzeres is related to Sukkos. Sefiras Ha Omer is the “Chol Hamoed” linking Passover to Shavuos

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SURROUNDED BY TORAH


“Does a non-Jew really understand the pleasures of this world? Did he ever wake up a few hours before sunrise, drink a hot coffee, and then, with a clear mind, study Torah without interruption for two hours, followed by immersion in a hot mikveh as preparation for an inspired, fiery davening? Does he have any idea of the true pleasures of this world?” 

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IT IS TIME


I write these words after Shabbos, as the Yom Tov of Pesach is leaving us. 

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THE SMALLEST NATION


This week’s Torah Portion describes the inauguration of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle. 

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OVERTURNING HOMES AND HEARTS


A grandson of Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman zt”l said, “When I served [my grandfather] food, he would … ask if I wanted to eat…. I often told him that I am a baal taavah and the food he ate would not be sufficient for me…. He would sigh and comment, ‘Eating is for me like fasting for you.’” (Quoted in Yated Ne’eman, 29 Adar) 

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MASTERS OF TIME


Before we became observant, life was like a carousel. We rode round and round. When the music stopped, we got off … at the same place we had started. 

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LEARNING FROM THE “VOV”


This momentous Shabbos ushers in the Month of Miracles. 

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ONE HUGE STEAK


A prominent rosh yeshiva once remarked to me, “I never ate a steak in my life.” 

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