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YOU ... WE ARE NOT WORRIED ABOUT!


I had been called for jury duty. As I walked into the courthouse, I had no idea what I would hear or see. My briefcase contained holy books and some food. Who knew how long I might have to stay here? I took pains to present an appearance that would properly represent G-d. At least I could try to honor His Name in this challenging environment.  

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SWEET GRAPES


The Jewish People crosses the Red Sea!

A nation that has been crushed in Egypt suddenly bursts forth like blossoms in the spring! Surely there is no other nation like this, able to rise not only from slavery but from the slave mentality, a nation uniquely close to G-d, far above what other nations can even imagine. 

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I HAVE A PLAN


The deputy mayor of Jerusalem was recently quoted as saying the government has given up hope on preventing attacks against Jews. I believe that. The government has no plan.

I have a plan.  

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SEVENTY WOLVES


In the old, old days, long before I became observant, I lived in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, a world of wealthy, assimilated Jews who fled the Torah as if it were poison. From nursery all the way through twelfth grade, I attended what was considered an “elite” private school. Our class, numbering about one hundred, was composed almost exclusively of assimilated Jews, with a smattering of others as a result of the school’s liberal philosophy. Feelings of guilt as a result of our comfortable lifestyle made it almost mandatory to include a few non-Jews.  

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THE BOY IN THE BARBER SHOP


Recently, in the barber shop, a boy was waiting for the next appointment. He wore a hockey uniform and sat hunched over his phone. He looked at no one. He said nothing. When his turn came, he wordlessly walked to the barber’s chair. No “good morning.” No smile or interaction. He looked into space. No word came from his mouth or light from his eyes.  

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DREAMING OF STARS


Joseph is in prison and Pharaoh dreams. Suddenly Joseph is king of Egypt. “Yeshuas Hashem k’heref ayin … the salvation of G-d comes in the blink of an eye!” This is high drama.

Our contemporary world also reflects high drama, as powerful battles play out on many stages. Hidden behind all these conflicts, the great salvation is being prepared in Heaven, as the Messiah prepares to arrive “k’heref ayin,” with blinding suddenness.  

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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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SURVIVING SODOM


We were in Israel during last summer’s missile attacks. The sirens would sound and we would rush to the shelters. This year there is no siren; there are no shelters; there is no warning. The attack can come at any time, at any place. The Arab you knew for years from the neighborhood grocery store can kill you. The Arab in the Bezeq truck can kill you on his way to “work.”  

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CONTROLLING THE INNER ISHMAEL


In this week’s Torah portion we meet Ishmael.  

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LEARNING FROM BAILA


Baila is four years old. She lives in Jerusalem. Her family was in the U.S. this summer. In the airport, before the return trip, Baila’s mother asked the children what most excited them about returning to Israel. Listen to Baila’s answer.  

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WHY DO PEOPLE FIGHT?


Someone whose father fought in the Battle of the Bulge gave me a book about this epic chapter in the history of World War II. Even reading about war is difficult. The reality is hard to imagine, especially for Americans, who have long been insulated from armed conflict. But war is real. Today, with the threat of long-range weapons and close-range enemies, it seems to be edging closer. Governments, who are supposed to protect, in some cases actually threaten the world! 

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FOUR WORDS


This is a final notice from Internal Revenue Services to inform you that the IRS is filing a lawsuit against you. Please call the following number immediately …..” 

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SECOND MARRIAGE


My wife and I got married twice. The first time, before we were observant, a very liberal “rabbi” handed us a “kesuba” (marriage contract) which read “ani l’dodi v’dodi li … I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine” (Song of Songs 6:3).  

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"EXHAUSTED NATION"


“Perhaps you will say in your heart, ‘These nations are more numerous than I. How will I be able to drive them out?’  

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THE FULL MOON


A remarkable day called T’U b’Av (“the Fifteenth of Av”) occurs this Friday, July 31. The Midrash describes it as “the day on which the digging ceased” (Eichah Rabba). 

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THE DREAM


It is naïve to pretend that our troubles are over, but when the holy day of T’U b’Av - the fifteenth of the month of Av - arrives, along with the next Sabbath known as Shabbos Nachamu, when verses of consolation are read, who can say that he doesn’t breathe easier, knowing that we have passed through incredible trials and that G-d Himself is giving us consolation? 

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THE REAL SUPREME COURT II


Two weeks ago, I wrote an article concerning the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding the status of Jerusalem. This week’s Torah portion delineates the boundaries of the Land of Israel, as it says, “This is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance” (Numbers 34:1 ff).  

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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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THE REAL SUPREME COURT


Not only do we read the Torah portion of Balak this week, but we read it on the Seventeenth of the month of Tammuz, the day the walls of Jerusalem were breached. This was an attack on spirituality itself, an attempt to drive the Master of the Universe out of His own world!  

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SPIES AGAIN


In this week’s Torah portion, the Jewish People encounters the other nations and becomes petrified. But we are not supposed to be afraid! As King David tells us, “G-d is with me. I have no fear. How can man affect me?” (Psalm 118) 

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"YOU HAVE RAISED MY SOUL FROM THE LOWER WORLD"


What does King David have to do with the holiday of Shavuos?  

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UTTERLY HELPLESS


“Until the time of Jacob, there was no feebleness that preceded death. Jacob came and beseeched G-d for mercy, and from then on feebleness came into being, as it says: And he said to Joseph, ‘Behold, your father is ill…’” (Bava Metzia 87a). 

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THE PATH OUT OF EXILE


I believe that it is appropriate during the Sefiras HaOmer countdown between Passover and the holiday of Shavuos to contemplate our own life and our relationship to events in the world around us. Especially in this era of history, a realistic assessment of world events is likely to lead one closer to the Master of the Universe, as it becomes increasingly clear that we cannot depend on the surrounding culture.  

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THE VOICE OF G-D IS UPON THE WATERS


“Kol Hashem al hamayim …. The voice of G-d is upon the waters. The G-d of Glory thunders. G-d is upon vast waters. The voice of G-d is in power! The voice of G-d is in majesty! The voice of G-d breaks the cedars; G-d shatters the cedars of Lebanon…” (Psalm 29).  We say these words every Sabbath eve. 

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THE APPEARANCE OF DARKNESS


In Biblical times at this season, we were marching with Moses toward Mount Sinai. It was a time of tremendous anticipation. Did the Children of Israel know what was coming? Could anyone have imagined the stupendous events which were about to occur at Mount Sinai? 

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WHERE IS BAKU?


Next week is Passover, and I can think of no better introduction to the festival of our liberation than to report to you on our recent speaking trip to Baku.  

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A VERY GOOD BOY


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

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THE CENTER OF THE WORLD


Years ago, there was a movie called “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Why are the nations of the world obsessed with the Ark of the Covenant? Why is Jerusalem the center of world attention and the Temple Mount the most coveted location on earth?

 

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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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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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