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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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WE ARE ORPHANS!


We have arrived once again at that moment, painful for me, when we leave the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, not to meet again until next year. It is like mourning for one’s parents. How can we go on?

Just who were these angelic but achingly real people? 

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"JOSEPH COULD NOT RESTRAIN HIMSELF"


We have just participated in one of the most remarkable dramas in the entire Torah. It began in the Torah portion of Vayeshev with Joseph’s dreams, continued through Mikeitz and concludes this week with the words “Ani Yosef … I am Joseph.” This extended scenario, in a way, represents the culmination of the lives of our Patriarchs. This is where the foundation of the entire future relationship among the Children of Israel is established.  

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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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TERRORIZED BY THE NEWS


I do not like the term “terrorism.”

It makes us cringe, as if we were slaves to our enemies. The word induces fear, but we are not supposed to be afraid of people. “G-d is with me. I have no fear. How can man affect me?” (Psalm 118) 

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PRAYER AND SUPPLICATION


In our Torah portion, our father Jacob says to Esau, “I will make my way at my slow pace … until I come to my lord at Seir” (Genesis 33:14).  

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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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FIRE AND TEARS


During the second summer of our marriage, when we were still in college, my wife and I were employed as fire lookouts in Crater Lake National Park, Oregon. We lived in a mountaintop cabin 9,000 feet above sea level and our view extended 150 miles in all directions, taking in thousands of forested acres. That summer there were two small fires and the world seemed normal. 

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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 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


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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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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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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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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HOW DID WE SURVIVE EGYPT?


This week's Torah portion ends with the words, "Vayaishev Yisroel ... Thus Israel settled in the Land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen; they took property in it and they were fruitful and multiplied greatly...." (Genesis 47:27) 

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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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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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