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Parasha Insights

ARE YOU A HERO TO YOUR CHILDREN?

In a Jewish school in Charkov, Ukraine, there was a history teacher who was an ardent Communist.  Her gods were Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin. She had no soft spot for Judaism, but because she was a terrific teacher and knew her stuff, they hired her in the Chabad school, on condition that she sticks to her subject and stays off the topic of religion. 

One day she quizzed her students on the period from the end of the 18th century to the end of the 19th century.  The teacher asked: Who knows what was the most important historical event of the year 1799?

One child raised his hand and said that was the year Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad, author of the Tanya, was released from… Read More »

DO WE HAVE THREE LIVES?

A woman says:

“I just got a photo from a speeding camera through the mail. I sent it right back – way too expensive and really bad quality.”

A guy says: 8 p.m. I get an SMS from my girlfriend: Me or football?!

11 p.m. I SMS my girlfriend: You of course.

There is a fascinating and insightful Midrash on the opening of this week’s portion Noah. The Torah begins:

These are the generations of Noach, Noach was a righteous man he was perfect in his generations; Noach walked with God.

The Midrash, always sensitive to nuance, wonders why the single verse mentions Noach not once, not twice, but three times?  The Midrash offers the following extraordinary insight.

The Torah is intimating that there was not one… Read More »

DOES LIGHT CONQUER DARKNESS?

A small child walked daily to and from school. Though the weather one morning was questionable and clouds were forming, the child made the daily trek to the elementary school.

As the day progressed, the winds whipped up, along with thunder and lightning.

The mother was worried that her child would be frightened walking back home from school and she herself feared the electrical storm might harm her child.

Following the roar of the thunder, lightning would cut through the sky like a flaming sword.  Being concerned, the mother got into her car and drove along the route to her child's school.  Soon she saw her small child walking along, but at each flash of lightning, the child would stop, look up at the sky and… Read More »

ARE YOU A JUGGLER IN REAL LIFE?

 A Texas State trooper pulled a car over on I-35 about 2 miles south of Waco, Texas.

When the trooper asked the driver why he was speeding, the driver said he was a Magician and Juggler and was on his way to Austin, Texas to do a show for the Shrine Circus. He didn’t want to be late.

The trooper told the driver he was fascinated by juggling and said if the driver would do a little juggling for him then he wouldn’t give him a ticket. He told the trooper he had sent his equipment ahead and didn’t have anything to juggle. The trooper said he had some torches in the trunk and asked if he could juggle them. The juggler said he could, so the trooper got 5 torches, lit them and handed them to him.

While the man was… Read More »

DO YOU HAVE A BRIGHT SPOT IN YOUR LIFE?

A little boy was overheard talking to himself as he strutted through his backyard, wearing his baseball cap, toting a ball and bat. “I’m the greatest hitter in the world,” he announced. Then, he tossed the ball into the air, swung at it, and missed.

“Strike one!” he yelled. He picked up the ball and said again, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” He tossed the ball into the air. He swung and missed. “Strike two!” he cried.

The boy then paused to examine his bat and ball carefully. He spits on his hands and rubbed them together, straightened his cap and said once more, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” He tossed the ball up and swung. He missed.… Read More »

FOR ME TO WIN, I NEED YOU TO WIN

Mrs. Greenberg was teaching her first-grade class about saying blessings and praying.

"For example children,” said Mrs. Greenberg “Before we go to sleep we should sing shema.

“Who here say their prayers at night?"

Little Chaim answered, "My mommy says my prayers."

"I see," said Mrs. Greenberg, "And what does your mother say?"

Chaim replied, "THANK G-D, HE'S IN BED!

This week's Torah portion Ki Tavo opens with a discussion of the Mitzvah of Bikkurim, the First Fruits. Upon the ripening of the first fruits of the season, a farmer would fill a basket with the ripened fruits and bring them to the Temple in Jerusalem, and offer them as a gift to the Kohen, to declare thanks to… Read More »

HOW CAN YOU HAVE A HAPPY MARRIAGE?

Six retired Jewish Floridians are playing poker in the condo clubhouse when Meyer loses $5,000 on a single hand, clutches his chest, and drops dead at the table. Showing respect for their fallen friend, the other five continue playing, but standing up. At the end of the game, Finkelstein looks around and asks, "So, who's gonna tell his wife?" They cut the cards. Goldberg picks the low card and has to bear the news. They tell him to be discreet, gentle, not to make a bad situation worse. "Discreet? I'm the most discreet person you'll ever meet. Discretion is my middle name. Leave it to me."

Goldberg goes over to the Meyer's condo and knocks on the door. The wife answers through the door and asks… Read More »

IS YOUR FINGER ON THE PULSE?

"How did you get this big executive job?" asked the secretary. "You've only been here for three months." The young man shrugged modestly and explained, "I ran into my father and he took a liking to me."

The boss always scheduled a weekly staff meeting at four-thirty on Friday afternoons. When an employee got up the nerve to ask why, the boss explained, "I've found that late Friday afternoon is the only time none of you want to argue with me."

There is an obvious anomaly in a verse of our weekly portion Shoftim. “You shall come to the judge who will be in those days,” meaning in the time when are seeking guidance in your dilemmas of Jewish law. The words “who will be in… Read More »

ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A NEW HORIZON?

A Zen master visiting New York City goes up to a hot dog vendor and says, "Make me one with everything."
The hot dog vendor fixes a hot dog and hands it to the Zen master, who pays with a $20 bill.
The vendor puts the bill in the cash box and closes it.
"After five minutes of silence, the Zen master asks: Excuse me, but where’s my change?"
The vendor responds, "Change must come from within."
This Shabbat in the portion of Reeh does the Torah warn the Jewish people against idolatry. Each time, the Torah follows up with a strange, identical term: You are in danger of following alien gods and idols, ones that you never heard of and never knew.
And then again: which you have never… Read More »

ARE YOU SCARED TO HEAR THE TRUTH?

A little boy was afraid of the dark. One night his mother told him to go out to the back porch and bring her the broom.


The little boy turned to his mother and said, "Mama, I don't want to go out there. It's dark."


The mother smiled reassuringly at her son. "You don't have to be afraid of the dark," she explained. "G-d is out there. He'll look after you and protect you."
 

The little boy looked at his mother real hard and asked, "Are you sure he's out there?"
 

"Yes, I'm sure. He is everywhere, and he is always ready to help you when you need him," she said.
 

The little boy thought about that for a minute and then went to the back door and cracked it a little.… Read More »

CAN YOU GO FORTH?

A young couple was called to heaven before they could be married. The disappointed groom asked G-d if it would still be possible for them to get married.

"I'm afraid you'll have to wait," G-d replied. If you still want to get married, we will talk about it."

Five years passed and the couple came back. They asked to be married again. G-d said, "Sorry, you'll have to wait five more years."

They waited another five years and G-d finally said they could be married. The wedding was beautiful and at first, the couple was happy, but then the problems began. They realized they made a mistake. They now asked G-d if they could get a divorce.

"What?" G-d asked. "It took us 10 years to find a Rabbi in… Read More »

HOW TO TURN CRISIS INTO OPPORTUNITY

A lonely frog, desperate for any form of company, telephoned the Psychic Hotline to find out what the future has in store for him.

His Personal Psychic Advisor advises him, "You are going to meet a beautiful young girl who will want to know everything about you."

The frog is thrilled and says, "This is great! Where will I meet her, at work? At a party?"

"No," says the psychic, "in a biology class."

Says the Talmud: Rabban Gamliel, Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria, Rabbi Joshua and Rabbi Akiva went up to Jerusalem. When they reached the Temple Mount, they saw a fox emerging from the place of the Holy of Holies. The others started weeping; Rabbi… Read More »

FATHER'S LOVE

Ben Cohen had been drinking at a pub all night. The bartender finally said that the bar was closing. So Ben stood up to leave and fell flat on his face. He tried to stand one more time; same result. Ben figured he'll crawl outside and get some fresh air and maybe that would sober him up.

Once outside, Ben stood up but fell flat on his face again. So he decided to crawl the 4 blocks to his home. When he arrived at the door, Ben stood up and again fell flat on his face. He crawled through the door and into his bedroom. When he reached his bed Ben tried one more time to stand up. This time he managed to pull himself upright, but he quickly fell right into bed and fell sound asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

He was awakened the next… Read More »

Can Humans Be Objective?

A politician was sitting at his campaign headquarters when the phone rang. He listened intently, and after a moment his face brightened. When he hung up, he immediately phoned his mother to tell her the good news. "Ma," he shouted, "the results are in. I won the election!"

"Honestly?"

The politician's smiled faded. "Aw ma, why bring that up at a time like this?"

A government official was arrested for accepting a bribe from a contractor. A friend who went to visit him in the lock-up asked, "How are you going to get out of this mess?"

The official replied calmly, "I got into trouble for accepting a bribe; I will get out of it by giving it."

It is a puzzling story—the tale… Read More »

A CHAMPION OF ISRAEL

The devout cowboy lost his favorite Bible while he was mending fences out on the range. Three weeks later, a donkey walked up to him carrying the Bible in its mouth. The cowboy couldn't believe his eyes. He took the precious book out of the donkey's mouth, raised his eyes heavenward and exclaimed, "It's a miracle!"

"Not really," said the donkey. "Your name is written inside the cover."

In this weeks Torah portion Balak. One aspect of the entire Bilaam story is mysterious. The donkey speaking is not the first or last miracle in the Torah. Yet all other miracles in the Tanach served a purpose, and the Torah clearly explains what that was. Ten plagues befall Egypt, to force Pharaoh and his nation to let the… Read More »

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