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Parasha Insights

Parasha Insights


On March 15, 1958, Jack Kennedy was a politician in his 40's. The opening line of one of his speeches made him a legend. Previously, his father John had been lampooned in the press as trying to use his family's money and influence to buy the election. Reaching into his pocket, Jack pulled out a telegram he said was from his dad. It said, "Dear Jack, Don't buy a single vote more than is necessary—I'll be damned if I'm going to pay for a landslide."

This week's Torah portion, Korach, tells of a serious challenge to Moses’ leadership. Moses's first cousin, Korach, led 250 community leaders in a revolt: They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, "You have gone too far! The whole community… Read More »


The local Jewish Federation charity had never received a donation from the city’s banker, a very wealthy Jew, so the director made a phone call. “Our records show you make $800,000 a year, yet you haven’t given a penny to charity,” the director began. “Wouldn’t you like to help the Jewish community?”

The banker replied, “Did your research show that my mother is ill, with extremely expensive medical bills?”  “Um, no,” mumbled the director.  “Or that my brother is blind and unemployed? Or that my sister’s husband died, leaving her broke with seven kids?”  “I … I … I had no… Read More »


There was once a jungle in which one lion thought himself a king. Everyday he got up, went over to the chipmunk, pinned him to the ground and asked, "Who's the toughest animal in the jungle?"

To which the chipmunk, in a meek little voice, always replied, "You are!"

Then the lion would find the bird. He would grab the bird, pin him to the ground and ask, "Who's the toughest animal in the jungle?"

"You are," the poor frightened bird would reply.

This went on each day, all morning. The lion would go to every other animal, pin them to the ground and ask his question. Finally, one day, he came up to the elephant. Grabbing him by the leg, the lion squeezed it and asked, "Who's the toughest beast… Read More »

The Capitol Dome in Washington, DC?

An old man was interviewed by a newspaper reporter on his 100th birthday. He was asked: “To what do you attribute your longevity?”

The man thought for a moment and began ticking off items on his fingers: “I never smoke, I never drink liquor, I never overeat, and I always go to bed early and get up early.”

“You know,” said the reporter, “I had an uncle who did all those things, but he only lived to be 90. How do you explain that?”

“Simple,” said the old man. “He just didn't keep it up long enough.”

One of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring sights in Washington DC is the United States Capitol building.

150 years ago, though, most of the nation opposed… Read More »


An anxious man filed a "missing persons" report about his wife. She had gone shopping earlier that day, and hadn't yet come back.

Officer: What is her height? Husband: I never checked.

Officer: Slim or robust? Husband: Not slim.

Officer: Petite or large? Husband: Not petite.

Officer: Color of eyes? Husband: Never noticed.

Officer: Color of hair? Husband: Well, that changes according to season.

Officer: What was she wearing? Husband: Not sure, a dress or a suit.

Officer: What color? Husband: How would I remember?

Officer: Was she driving? Husband: Yes.

Officer: Color of the car? Husband: It was a black Audi A8 with supercharged 3.0 litre V6 engine generating 333 horsepower, teamed with an eight-speed tiptronic automatic… Read More »


There are two kinds of people: Those who can count, and those who can’t.

There is something strange about the way we count Sefirah—the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot.

What is this counting all about? What is the point of counting days and weeks that will pass, regardless of our counting? The truth is, we are counting from the day we were set free from decades of slavery, on Passover, to the day we received the Torah at Sinai and made our covenant with G-d to accept His Torah as our eternal mandate and blueprint; from the day we became a people to the day we received our Jewish identity. We include both days andweeks in our Sefirah count to highlight the two ways of defining our Jewish identity.

The 24-hour day… Read More »


No dictionary has ever been able to satisfactorily define the difference between "complete" and "finished." However, during a recent linguistic conference, held in London, England, and attended by some of the best linguists in the world, Samsundar Balgobin, a Guyanese linguist, was the presenter when he was asked to make that very distinction.

The question put to him by a colleague in the erudite audience was this: “Some say there is no difference between ‘complete’ and ‘finished.’ 

Please explain the difference in a way that is easy to understand.”

Mr. Balgobin’s response: “When you marry the right woman, you are ‘complete.’  If you… Read More »


 One day, a tax inspector knocked on the door of Izzy's deli in London. "How did you deduct $80,000 for business travel! Your returns say that you and your wife went on 28 business trips to Israel, the USA, Italy, Switzerland, France, Hawaii, and the Caribbean! What is going on?"

Izzy smiled. "We deliver!"

One verse in this week's Torah portion, Acharei Mot-Kedoshim, represents a wonderful truth about Judaism: You shall observe My statutes and My ordinances, which a man shall do and live by them. I am the Lord.

The Talmud expounds, " Live by them," not die. The word's significance cannot be underestimated. Some religions still equate G-d with a fascination with death. Radical Muslims… Read More »


What is the difference between a 20-year old, a 40 year old and a 60 year old? The 20-year old is self conscious and wants to make a good impression. The 40 year old declares: “I don't care what others think of me; I must be true to myself.” The 60- year old realizes that no one ever looked at him….

The Haftorah of this week's Torah portion—Tazria-Metzora—tells a fascinating narrative about the “four lepers.” In the First Temple era, the Syrian Army laid siege to the Jewish city of Samaria. The siege lasted so long that the Samaritans became desperate enough to resort to cannibalism.

The king of Israel, Jehoram, was not righteous, but seeing the plight of the Jews broke him. He illogically… Read More »


A police officer once pulled over a couple driving in a speeding car.  The officer sidles up to the car and says, "I clocked you at 80 mph, sir."

The husband driving the car says, "Gee, officer, I had it on cruise control at 65, perhaps your radar needs calibrating."

Not looking up from her afghan, his wife says sweetly, "Now don't be silly dear, you know very well this car doesn't have cruise control."

The driver shoots a look at his wife as the officer makes out the ticket. “Be quiet!” he hisses at her.

The wife smiles demurely and says "You should be thankful your radar detector went off when it did."

As the officer makes out a second ticket for the illegal radar detector… Read More »


Alexander the Great once sat in judgment on one of his soldiers, found the man guilty, and sentenced him to death.

Believing the verdict was unjust, the soldier asked to appeal it.
“To whom do you appeal?” asked Alexander, “I am the highest authority.”

“Your Majesty,” answered the condemned man, “I appeal from Alexander the small to Alexander the Great.”

As we celebrate this Passover season, I’d like you to consider this simple question. Every day we are bombarded by millions of pieces of information, all clamoring for our attention. So why do we remember some things and forget others? What makes something stick?

Contrary to what we might imagine, scientists tell us,1 memory is not… Read More »


At a dinner celebrating 50 years of service for a rabbi, a guest speaker paid tribute to his many wonderful qualities: his dedication, wisdom, hard work, and foresight. As he sat down, the rabbi leaned over to him and said, “You forgot to mention one thing.”

“What was that?” the speaker asked.

The rabbi replied, “My humility.”

A Jewish mystic, commenting on the significance of the Four Cups, said: We read in the Zohar that when the Jews were in Egypt, the power of speech was also in bondage–a slave cannot express his thoughts and feelings freely. In the Exodus, the power of speech was redeemed together with the people.

Speech comes into being by using five instruments: the lips, teeth… Read More »


A man sat down in a bar. The bartender asked, "What'll it be, buddy?" The man said, "Set me up with seven whiskey shots. Make them doubles."

The bartender did this and watched the man slug one down after another until all seven were gone, almost as quickly as they were served.

Staring in disbelief, the bartender asked why he was drinking so much. "You'd drink them this fast too, if you had what I have."

The bartender hastily asked, "What do you have?"

The man replied, "I have one dollar."

This week’s Torah portion, Vayikra, discusses sacrifices. Though these laws have been inoperative for almost 2,000 years, since the destruction of the holy Temple, the moral principles they… Read More »


A man sat a bar staring at his drink. After half an hour, a burly truck driver grabbed his glass and swallowed the contents. The poor man started to cry. The driver said, “C'mon, I was joking. Here, I’ll buy you another drink. I can’t stand seeing a man cry.”

“No, it’s not that. This is the worst day of my life. First, I slept in and got to the office late. My boss, outraged, fired me. When I exited the building, I found my car was stolen, and the police said they couldn't help. I took a cab home, and when it left, I realized I had left my wallet and cards there. I went inside my house and saw my wife drinking coffee with another guy. I came to this bar. Just when I was thinking about putting an end to… Read More »


A Sunday school teacher asked, "Melvin, honestly, do you say prayers before eating?"

"No," little Melvin replied, "I don't have to. My mom is a good cook."

The opening of this week’s second portion, Parshat Parah, relates the law and ritual known as "The Red Heifer."

A completely red cow was slaughtered and burned, its ashes preserved with much care. If a person became spiritually contaminated through contact with a human corpse, fresh water from a spring was mixed with some of the cow’s ashes. This ash-water mixture was then sprinkled upon the contaminated human being twice during a seven-day period, on the third and seventh days. This cleansed him or her from their ritual… Read More »

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