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Parasha Insights

JUDGE EVERYONE FAVORABLY

At the height of a political corruption trial, the prosecuting attorney attacked a witness. "Isn't it true," he bellowed, "that you accepted five thousand dollars to compromise this case?"


The witness stared out the window as though he hadn't hear the question.

"Isn't it true that you accepted five thousand dollars to compromise this case?" the lawyer repeated.

The witness still did not respond.

Finally, the judge leaned over and said, "Sir, please answer the question."

"Oh," the startled witness said, "I thought he was talking to you." 

This week's portion Kedoshim contains a positive Biblical commandment, which we often do not think about as such: 
With… Read More »

Can you split your sea?

A Jewish philanthropist pays a visit to a Hebrew school which he has been supporting for years. The teacher, wanting to show off his educational accomplishments, gives a quiz.

"Steven," the teacher calls out to one of the students, "Tell me, who broke The Tablets?"

To which the child responds: "Not I; I didn't do it."

The teacher, humiliated and enraged, begins to pound on his desk and shouts, "Steven, you better tell me right now who broke The Tablets!" The poor boy, struck by fear, pleads: "I swear to you, I did not even dream of doing it."

As the teacher sits in his chair devastated by his obvious failure, the Jewish millionaire approaches him. The teacher assumes that he will be… Read More »

IS IT EVER ENOUGH?

“Had G-d but split the sea, and not brought us through it on dry land – it would have been enough.” How could it have been enough? Had Jews not escaped through the Red Sea, they would have been pounced on by the Egyptians! What does this mean?

The answer emerges by way of another question. What is the single greatest obstacle to happiness?

Human nature. Human nature is insatiable. We are never completely satisfied with ourselves, our partner, our income, our homes, our children, our jobs, our pleasure. Something in us always longs for more. Consider the order of a child’s first words. Their first word is, often, “Mama,” the second “Dada,” and the third word is, “more”. These… Read More »

EXODUS AND THE AMERICAN MONUMENTS

The Haggadah famously says: “And even if we were all wise, filled with understanding, and all knowledgeable in the Torah, we would still be obligated to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt...”

Why? If we were all so deeply learned, what possible need would there be to tell a story every year over and over again?

To answer this question, let's travel to Washington DC and visit the great monuments. Let’s consider the Lincoln Memorial, gaze up at the immense stone figure of Abraham Lincoln. Then look around him: inscribed into the walls of the memorial are the texts of two of the greatest speeches in American history, the Gettysburg address: “This nation, under G-d, shall have a new birth of freedom...” and… Read More »

TRIPLE FILTER TEST

A guy joins a monastery and takes a vow of silence: he’s allowed to say two words every seven years.

After the first seven years, the elders bring him in and ask for his two words.

"Cold floors," he says. They nod and send him away.

Seven more years pass. They bring him back in and ask for his two words. He clears his throat.

"Bad food," he says. They nod and send him away.

Seven more years pass. They bring him in for his two words.

"I quit," he says.

"That’s not surprising," the elders say. "You’ve done nothing but complain since you got here."

Early third century, around the year 200 CE. In  the town of Sepphoris in Upper Galilee of the Holy Land. The… Read More »

YOU ARE A SUCCESS STORY

The Talmud teaches us that Poverty is a mindset. Wealth is not just a material fact; it is not that either you have money, or you don’t. Wealth begins with a state of mind. Do you have the mindset of richness or the mindset of poverty? In the words of the Talmud, “Ordinary riches can be stolen, but real riches cannot.” Wealth is the ability to fully experience life. And that is a mindset.

Let me share an example in education:

You can focus on what your child is lacking, or you can focus on what your child is successful in. When you focus on what is lacking, you reinforce the lack. When you focus on the successes, you inspire your child to more success.

For example, when you get your child’s report card… Read More »

Truth and kindness kissed

A man placed some flowers on the grave of his dearly departed mother and started back toward his car when his attention was diverted to another man kneeling at a grave. The man seemed to be praying with profound intensity and kept repeating, "Why did you have to die? Why did you have to die?"

The first man approached him and said, "Sir, I don't wish to interfere with your private grief, but this demonstration of pain is more than I've ever seen before. For whom do you mourn so deeply? A child? A parent?" The mourner took a moment to collect himself, then replied, "My wife's first husband."

 “Two kings can’t wear the same crown,” the Talmud stated Usually, a nation has one leader.… Read More »

BY BEING IMPERFECT WE ARE PERFECT!

Iranian president calls Obama and tells him, "Barack, I had a wonderful dream last night. I could see America, the whole beautiful country, and on each house I saw a banner."

"What did it say on the banners?" Obama asks. Mahmud replies, "UNITED STATES OF IRAN."

Obama says, "You know, Mahmud, I am really happy you called, because believe it or not, last night I had a similar dream. I could see all of Tehran, and it was more beautiful than ever, and on each house flew an enormous banner."

"What did it say on the banners?" Mahmud asks.

Obama replies, "I don't know. I can't read Hebrew."

The most special of the four mitzvot we are obligated to do on Purim—listening to… Read More »

REGARDS FROM JERUSALEM

A man once told his wife she must listen to him because men are superior to women.

“Who says that”? The woman cried out.

“It is a fact. Look at G-d. He created men first. Why? Because we are superior.”

“You ignorant,” his wife responded.

Why did God create men first? Because we learn from mistakes…

The Torah in this portion Vayikra describes the various kinds of sin offering, brought in the case of inadvertent wrongdoing. Why does the Torah state “when a leader sins” rather than “if a leader sins”? The question is not “if,” but “when?…”

Saints don’t sin. Leaders must sin. That is their greatness. Each of us must be a leader. A… Read More »

We need the fire!

Bob was living at home with his very ill father. When Bob found out he was going to inherit a fortune very soon when his sickly father died, he decided he needed a woman to enjoy it with. So one evening he went to a matchmaker and asked him to find him a lovely woman. The matchmaker gave him a number. He called her and they began a courtship.

At the first date he told her: "I may look like just an ordinary man," he said. "But in just a week or two my father will die, and I'll inherit 20 million dollars."

Impressed, the woman went home with him that evening.

Three days later, she became his stepmother

This Sabbath, Jews the world over will read, in addition to the weekly Torah portion Pekudei, an extra Torah… Read More »

LOVE HIM MORE...

Education and parenting methods were never easy even in a good day.

Never mind at a time when children become teenagers at the age of five, and they veto your decisions at the age of six. By ten they are running their own lives, and mom or dad dare meddle into their private affairs.

I saw a bumper sticker: “Be nice to your kids. They will choose your nursing home.”

If you have lots of tension and you have a headache, do what it says on the aspirin bottle: "TAKE TWO ASPIRIN" AND "KEEP AWAY FROM CHILDREN."

The Torah portion of Vayakhel describes the enthusiastic response of the Jewish people to Moses’ call to donate material to build a sanctuary for G-d. The Torah enumerates four pieces of jewelry… Read More »

CAN YOU CHANGE STATUS QUO?

An Amish boy and his father were visiting a big fancy American mall. They were amazed by almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny, silver walls that could move apart and back together again [we call them elevators.] The boy asked his father, "What is this, Father?" The father responded, "Son, I have never seen anything like this in my life, I don't know what it is."

While the boy and his father were watching wide-eyed an old lady in a wheel chair rolled up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened and the lady rolled between them into a small room. The walls closed and the boy and his father watched small circles of lights with numbers above the walls light up. They continued to watch… Read More »

ARE YOU A LUNAR OR A SOLAR PERSONALITY?

A woman calls the Rabbi. “I was just notified my husband won the 250 million lottery. I am afraid he will faint when he hears the news. What to do?”

“Send him to me first,” says the rabbi.

The man comes to the Rabbi.

“Aib, what would you do if you won the lottery”?

“Ha Rabbi, me? Never! I don’t have mazal.

“But who knows maybe you will win. What would you do?”

“Rabbi, stop making jokes with me, it is not happening.”

“Aib, let’s talk theoretically. If you would win what would you do?”

Rabbi! If I won the lottery, I swear to you, I would give you half!

And the Rabbi fainted!...

The Kabbalah talks about masculinity vs. femininity in terms of… Read More »

Why inspired-heart only may contribute?

Did you hear about the message Israel sent to the Egyptians this past week?

"Dear Egyptian brothers!

“Please don't damage the Pyramids. We will not rebuild...

“We are too busy now, and we are much more expensive than we used to be.

“Thank you.

The Jewish people.”

This week's portion, Terumah, describes the great collective project of the Israelites in the desert: G-d spoke to Moses saying: "Speak to the children of Israel, and let them take a contribution for Me. Take My contribution from everyone whose heart impels him to give…building a Mishkan, a portable Sanctuary, that would serve as the visible home of the Divine presence.

Given by people whose “heart impelled them.” It is a… Read More »

IS G-D AN INVESTOR?

When a guy's printer type began to grow faint, he called a local repair shop where a friendly man informed him that the printer probably needed only to be cleaned. Because the store charged $50 for such cleanings, he told him he might be better off reading the printer's manual and trying the job himself.

Pleasantly surprised by his candor, he asked, "Does your boss know that you discourage business?"

"Actually, it's my boss's idea," the employee replied sheepishly. "We usually make more money on repairs if we let people try to fix things themselves first."

The Torah, in this week’s portion Mishpatim, strictly forbids the collection or payment of interest on a loan granted from one Jew to another.

The… Read More »

Who was our nation’s first Rebbetzin?

I heard from Senator Joseph Lieberman that when Al Gore chose him as his running mate in 2000, Joe’s late mother Marcia, a woman hitting 90 at the time, saw Mr. Gore. As a typical Jewish mother she approaches him and says: Al! You chose well!

As you know, Gore and Lieberman lost the elections. George Bush and his VP Dick Cheney were the victors. And it was a tight race. The unconfirmed story goes that Joe Lieberman naturally came home that day deeply dejected. The Vice President would be Dick Cheney not Joseph Lieberman.  When his wife, Haddasah, saw him, she exclaimed:

Joe! Do not worry; don’t despair. In THIS home you will always be VICE President!

The Torah states in the opening of this portion: “Moses' father… Read More »

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