Newsletter

A SECOND CHANCE

  
I would like to bring you up to date on a few things.  

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THE STREETS OF YERUSHALAYIM


 I walked out of shul. The streets of Yerushalayim were still damp from the previous day’s rain. I had davened slowly and felt peaceful. The cares of the world seemed lighter, because it was clear to me that all the disturbing events of our times have been predicted as a prelude to the coming of Moshiach, and we can surely anticipate that Moshiach will be here soon.  

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CUFFLINKS


“They shall make a Sanctuary for Me, so that I may dwell among them.”(Exodus 25:8) 

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HOW DID WE FORGET?


And now we enter a new world. 

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THE SAP OF REDEMPTION


Is it a coincidence that this climactic Torah Portion, in which the Children of Israel meet Hashem at Mount Sinai, should fall out during the week of T’U b’Shevat (The New Year of Trees)? Well that question is of course unnecessary, because there are no coincidences. 

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STAND FAST AND SEE THE SALVATION OF HASHEM


The power of this week’s Torah Portion challenges description. It is not simply what happened to our ancestors, but it reflects our situation today. 

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DO NOT BE AFRAID, MY SERVANT JACOB!


And we leave Egypt. 

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EXILE AND REDEMPTION


The Torah goes at great length into the Egyptian Exile because we have to understand the reality of Exile. The Torah goes at great length into the Redemption through Moses because we have to understand the reality of Redemption. 

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G-D HEARD THEIR MOANING


“A new king arose over Egypt who did not know of Joseph  … Pharaoh commanded his entire people, saying, ‘Every boy that will be born … you shall throw him into the river ….” (Exodus 1:8ff) We were threatened then and we are threatened now. 

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WITH DAWN, A CRY OF JOY


Exile begins. 

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TWO WORDS


Many decades ago, a few years after we got married, before the dawn of Torah in our lives, my wife and I lived for over a year in England. I was studying English Language and Literature at Balliol College, Oxford (founded 755 years ago). Although some might think those years were a waste, it is not true. Hashem guides one through life, and I was led to study English-language skills which I use to this day in books, articles and public speaking. I was taught clarity and proper use of the English Language. 

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“LISHMA” … FOR ITS OWN SAKE


This Friday night there will be six lights on the Chanukah Menorah in addition to the Shabbos lights. The house will be full of light. What is special about the Chanukah lights is that you cannot use them for seeing your way. They are just for looking. 

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THE WORLD IS WAITING FOR OUR BLESSING


My wife and I had been speaking at the University of Michigan. At the Detroit airport, returning to New York, we had to wait for a shuttle bus. There was a man behind the counter, apparently from Haiti. He acted like a functionary, exhibiting no warmth or friendliness. As we left for the bus, I said “Thank you,” and reached out to shake his hand. This gesture had a remarkable effect. He suddenly emerged from behind the counter, bowing to us and smiling. 

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LOOKING AT AN ANGEL


“Vayishlach … Jacob sent angels ahead of him to Esau….” (Genesis 32:4) 

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TAKE WORDS


“Jacob departed from Be’er Sheva and went toward Haran….” (Genesis 28:10)  

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BE’ER SHEVA THEN AND NOW


“[Yitzchak Avinu] went up … to Be’er Sheva. Hashem appeared to him that night and said, ‘I am the G-d of your father Avraham. Fear not, for I am with you. I will bless you and increase your offspring because of Avraham my servant.’ He built an altar there, invoked Hashem by Name, and there he pitched his tent …. Avimelech went to him from Gerar….” (Genesis 26:23-26)  

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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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