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HOW CAN STONES PROTECT US?


Imagine the scene: Jacob is fleeing from Esau, on his way to find a wife in the home of Laban. He is completely alone, as if there is no one else in the world, and – “because the sun had set” and darkness surrounded him – he finds the need to protect himself in this lonely, dark world. So he arranges twelve stones around his head.  

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"MAGDIEL IS ROME"


In a few weeks we will, please G-d, read the Torah portion of Vayishlach, which concludes with the words, “Now these are … the chiefs of Esau (father of Edom) … the chief of Magdiel” (Genesis 36:40-43). 

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TWO KINDS OF WEEPING


In a certain study hall in Jerusalem, there was a Rabbi who would continually pace up and down between the lecterns, carrying on an intense conversation in learning … with himself! This was a delightful and sometimes amusing spectacle. As he paced, however, he was also aware of his surroundings. One day, I was explaining to my study partner my personal criterion for a good leader of the prayers, namely that he should make me cry. 

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LISTENING TO REBBE


This week’s Torah portion describes the culmination of a spectacular sanctification of G-d’s Name on the part of Pinchas, son of Elazar, son of Aharon the High Priest. Without exaggeration, he saved the Jewish people.  

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HOLD ON TO THE ROPE


Several weeks ago, newspapers pictured a young boy, head in hands, in front of the remains of his family home, which had been destroyed by a Texas tornado. At about the same time, in Nepal, entire mountainsides slid away; avalanches buried mountain dwellers and climbers; entire villages slid down the slopes of the greatest mountain range in the entire world. 

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A VERY GOOD BOY


Eliyahu is a nine-year old boy who lives in Israel. 

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ROYAL APPAREL


As I write, it is the coldest day I can remember in my entire life. Since when does the New York temperature drop to zero, with gale-force winds? Is anything normal these days? 

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GETTING PAST FEAR


We have reached a new level in our weekly Torah portion. From the Book of Genesis through last week’s Torah portion, in which Israel receives the Torah at Mount Sinai, the Torah portions have been narrative, beginning with the epic story of Creation, the formation of the Nation of Israel, and culminating in the redemption from Egypt and the (literally) earth-shaking meeting between G-d and His Chosen People at Mount Sinai.  

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IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN


According to Dr. Amos Porat of the Israeli Meteorological Service, rainfall in Israel this winter has been 120 to 200 percent over the normal level, depending on location. This is important for more than agricultural reasons, because rain is a “siman bracha,” a sign of blessing, and Israel seems to be receiving much blessing this winter.  

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THE SALVATION OF G-D


How can we sing songs of praise when the world is burning? 

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DARKNESS AND DARKNESS


There is physical darkness and spiritual darkness. These distinctions are not theoretical.  

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TREMORS


The second summer after our marriage, years before we were observant, my wife and I were employed as fire lookouts in Crater Lake National Park, Oregon. We lived in a cabin on top of Mount Scott, 8,832 feet above sea level. Our view extended about 150 miles in each direction and we looked down on Crater Lake, one of the most beautiful spots you could imagine. 

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FAREWELL TO THE PATRIARCHS


This week we say “goodbye” to the Patriarchs. “When Jacob finished instructing his sons, he drew his feet onto the bed; he expired and was gathered to his people.” (Genesis 49:33) 

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STARS OF ISRAEL


"When Jacob finished instructing his sons, he drew his feet onto the bed; he expired and was gathered to his people." (Genesis 49:33) So ends an era. But the influence of the Patriarchs is so powerful that it remains with their children until the end of time. All of our prayers begin with the words, "G-d of Abraham, G-d of Isaac and G-d of Jacob...

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ANA HASHEM HOSHIA NA … PLEASE G-D, SAVE US!


“Jacob was left alone and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn.” (Genesis 32:25)

Who was more alone than our father Jacob? Jacob is alone and his children are alone. “Behold! It is a nation that will dwell in solitude and not be reckoned among the nations.” (Numbers 23:9) That is our unique position in the world and also our strength. 

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WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BE AFRAID


As I write these words, the headlines read, "Terror in Tel Aviv, Gush Etzion." And then, the following week, the headlines read, "Terrorists kill four rabbis." 

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MORE EVIL AUTOMOBILES


We have just returned after two months in the Holy Land. It was hard to leave, but we have much to accomplish, and the words of Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch Shlita"h still ring in my ears: "Yisroel, you are a soldier and soldiers have to go where the battle is." 

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RAISING OUR EYES


"[Isaac] raised his eyes, and behold: camels were coming... Rebecca raised her eyes and saw Isaac ...." (Genesis 24:63-4)

King David said, "I raise my eyes to the mountains; from where will my help come? My help is from Hashem, Maker of heaven and earth..." (Psalm 121) 

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EVIL AUTOMOBILES


The Torah portion of Bereishis described how Hashem made a perfect world. This week’s Parsha describes how man can destroy it! I regret to say this (although everyone knows it): today’s world resembles Sodom a lot more than the Garden of Eden. But Hashem has limited tolerance for the destruction of His world. What happened to Sodom is very relevant to us today. 

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MIRACLE AT KENNEDY AIRPORT


The world was filled with idolatry. One man, our Father Abraham, understood that there had to be a Creator. He found the Torah and its Author. From our Father Avraham descended a nation of Priests, “goy kadosh … a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:6) In today’s darkness, Hashem is still close to us. If we look for Him we can find Him. We simply have to keep looking.  

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PROTECTED BY HIS NAME


Sukkos is illogical.

Imagine: we culminate the entire Yom Tov cycle by sitting in a hut that offers no protection whatsoever against the elements of nature or the threat of man! 

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WHY WE NEED TO ACT LIKE ANGELS


The essential message of Yom Kippur is that everything depends on our spiritual condition. To the extent that we follow Hashem's will, our life will be good. The economy is not the determining factor. Politics is not the determining factor. Social issues are not the determining factor. The only thing that counts is our relationship with G-d. That's it. 

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BRINGING OUR FATHER HOME


 When children play hide and seek, they are looking for someone who's there. If he's not there, there's no game. 

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WHY THIS WAR WAS DIFFERENT


The guns are silent. The missiles have stopped flying ... for now.

There was something different about this war. 

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HOW PEACE COMES


"When you will go out to war against your enemies...." (Deuteronomy 21:10). Thus begins this week's Torah portion. We are learning a lot about war these days. 

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DON'T BLAME THE MEDIA


People are upset at the media.

During the War in Gaza, it seemed as if the entire world was against Israel! And for good reason! It was! I want to ask: are you surprised? 

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