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Parasha Insights


In a small town in Poland called Chelm, there lived some of the wisest fools this world has ever known. The people of Chelm adored the moon that shone down on them every night—well, almost every night. They often stood outside their doors, no matter how cold, no matter how much snow, to gaze at their moon. They stared, watching in wonder as their moon waxed and waned. Some nights the moon was merely a silvery sliver. Other nights it was fat and full, blazing down on them like heaven's spotlight.

But once a month there came a night when the moon disappeared altogether. On those nights, the people of Chelm stood outside searching the dark sky in vain.

One night, when the moon had vanished, a wise man named Shlomo finally lost his… Read More »


One day the zoo-keeper noticed that the orangutan was reading two books - the Bible and Darwin's Origin of Species.

Surprised, he asked the ape, "Why are you reading both those books?"

"Well," said the orangutan, "I just wanted to know if I was my brother's keeper or my keeper's brother."

This week’s Torah portion, Eikev, has the Mitzvah popularly known today as the Grace After Meals, after eating a meal with bread. The Torah instructs: “And you will eat and be satisfied, and you shall bless the Lord, your G-d, for the good land He has given you.”

There are four major sections in the Grace After Meals: The opening blessing thanking G-d for food; the blessing for the Land; the blessing for… Read More »


Natan Sharansky was a mathematician and chess prodigy who gave up a privileged position in Russia to become a Jewish activist in 1973 when he became a refusenik. In 1977, he was arrested and served 9 years in prison, mostly in solitary confinement. As a result of international pressure, he was finally released in 1986. He moved to Israel, where, for a period of time, he was a politician.

He was asked to characterize the difference between himself and other Israeli politicians. He answered, “Unlike many Israeli political leaders, I went to jail before serving as a politician.”

This week’s Torah portion, Vaetchanan, relates Moses’ impassioned speech to his people about their history and destiny. The… Read More »


          A contractor requested quotes to build two apartments.

The Irish builder quoted him $500,000: “$200,000 for labor, and $300,000 for materials.”

The Scottish builder quoted him, “$600,000. $300,000 for labor and $300,000 for materials.”

The Jewish builder quoted $1 million.

The contractor asked, "How did arrive at that figure?"

"Easy," came the reply. “$250,000 for you, $250,000 for me, and we will get the Irishman to do the job."

On the ninth day of the month of Av (Tisha B'Av) in the year 70 CE, the Roman legions in Jerusalem smashed through the fortress tower of Antonia into the Holy Temple and set it afire. In the blackened remains of the… Read More »


A man and woman were recently celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

While cutting the cake, the wife was moved after seeing her husband’s eyes fill with tears. She took his arm and looked at him affectionately.

“I never knew you were so sentimental,” she whispered.

“No... No...” he said, choking back his tears. “That’s not it at all. Remember when your father found us in the barn and told me to either marry you or spend the next 50 years in jail?”

“Yes,” the wife replied. “I remember it like yesterday.”

“Well,” said the husband, “Today I would have been a free man.”

This week's double Parsha is the concluding portion of the Book… Read More »


A woman told her husband, “You really brought religion into my life.”

“How so?” he asked. “I am an atheist!”

“Until I married you I didn’t believe in hell.”

This week’s Torah portion, Pinchas, relays how Moses confronts his own mortality and asks G-d to appoint a successor. His words are moving:

“May the Lord, God of the spirits of all flesh, choose a man over the congregation… they should not be like sheep without a shepherd.”

G-d tells Moses to appoint Joshua as his successor; he will be the nation’s next leader.

Then there is a strange juxtaposition. Moses is pleading for a new leader; he fears his flock will be left without a shepherd. G-d… Read More »


In the jungle, a marriage procession of lions was moving forward, when a mouse joined them and started dancing. The lions were amazed and said to the mouse, "You are not one of us. Why have you joined us?"

The mouse replied, "I was a lion too before my marriage. This is me now…."

This week’s Torah portion, Balak, relates the fascinating story of how the prophet and sorcerer Balaam, an archenemy of the people of Israel, was summoned by King Balak of Moab to curse the Israelites. But when Balaam opened his mouth to curse, blessings came out instead. He tried three times, each with the same result. He ended with a prophecy describing the triumph of Israel in the "end of days." The verses… Read More »




There was a teacher known for his constant preaching about the need to nurture children with warmth and love. One day he noticed some children playing in freshly laid concrete outside his newly renovated home, their little feet leaving lasting impressions. He became irritated and started chastising them.

A friend asked, "How can you, a person who devotes his entire life to teaching warmth to children, speak this way?"

To which the teacher replied:  "Please understand. I love children in the abstract, not the concrete."

At last, the moment had arrived. For 40 years the Jews had wandered together in a wilderness. Most of the older generation had already passed on. Even the beloved Miriam was no… Read More »


The Talmud tells a strange story: A harp was hanging above King David's bed. At midnight, a North wind blew upon it and it played of itself. He arose immediately and studied Torah until dawn. After the break of dawn, the wise men of Israel came to King David and said to him: Our master, the King, Israel your people require sustenance! They need to live! He said to them: Let them go out and make a living one from the other.

They said to him: A handful cannot satisfy a lion, nor can a pit when un-dug be filled up with its own clods of earth.[You need to bring more earth from elsewhere to fill the pit.] David said to them: Then go out in troops and attack the enemy for plunder.

This serene, almost mystical, scene is brusquely… Read More »


You know the joke about the rabbi who gave a man marriage advice: His wife should be in charge of small decisions, and he, the big ones.

After 30 years, he complained to the rabbi, "In 30 years, there have been no big decisions!"

To which his wife responded: "Of course there have—and I allowed you to decide them all!"

"Like what?" asked the husband.

"Like what? I will tell you: A big decision is what to do about global warming, the conflict in Iraq, the situation in Iran…. That you decide, my dear, and I do not mix in. Small decisions are—where we live, where our kids go to school, which synagogue we attend, and which house we buy!

Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim ben Aaron Luntschitz… Read More »


A 60-year-old man went for a check-up and was told, "You’re in terrific shape. You have the body of a 35-year-old. By the way, how old was your father when he died?"

The 60-year-old responded, "Who said he was dead?"

The doctor was surprised and asked, "How old is he? Is he very active?"

The 60-year-old responded, "Well, he is 82 years old and he still goes skiing three times a season and surfing three times a week during the summer."

The doctor couldn`t believe it. "Well, how old was your grandfather when he died?"

The 60-year-old responded again, "Who said he was dead?"

The doctor was astonished. He said, "You mean to tell me you are 60 years old and both your… Read More »

The Four-Minute Mile

Izzy owned a small deli in Stamford Hill, in London. One day, a tax inspector knocked on his door and questioned him about his recent tax return. Issy had reported a net profit of $250.000 for the year and he wanted to know all about it. "It’s like this," said Issy. "I work like a maniac all year round and all of my family helps me out whenever they can. My deli is closed only five days a year. That’s how I made $250,000."

"It's not your income that bothers us," said the taxman. "It's the business travel deductions of $80,000 that worries us. You entered on the tax return that you and your wife made 28 business trips to Israel, Italy, Switzerland, France, the US, Hawaii, and the Caribbean… Read More »


A man takes a seat at a bar, and orders five shots. The bartender gives him an odd look since he’s alone, but he serves him and lines up the shots on the bar.

The man downs them all quickly. He finishes the last one and calls out, "Four shots, please!" The bartender serves four shots and lines them up on the bar. The man downs them all. Then he belches loudly, sways slightly on the stool, and orders three. And one after the other, he knocks them back. "Two shots!" he calls, and the bartender places two shots in front of him. Down they go. As the man slams the last one down on the bar, he says, "One shot, bartender."

So the bartender fills the glass. The man sits there, staring at it for a moment… Read More »


An Amish boy and his father visited a mall. They were amazed by almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny, silver walls that could move apart and back together again. 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 watched wide-eyed, an old woman in a wheelchair 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 the circles light up in the reverse direction. The walls… Read More »


TEACHER: Maria, go to the map and find North America.
MARIA: Here it is.
TEACHER: Correct. Now class, who discovered America?
CLASS: Maria.

TEACHER: Winnie, name one important thing we have today that we didn't have 10 years ago.

TEACHER: Glenn, why do you always get so dirty?
GLENN: Well, I'm a lot closer to the ground than you are.

TEACHER: George Washington not only chopped down his father's cherry tree, but also admitted it. Now, Louie, do you know why his father didn't punish him?
LOUIS: Because George still had the axe in his hand.

TEACHER: Now, Simon, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?
SIMON: No sir, I don't have to, my Mum is a good cook.

TEACHER: Harold, what do you call a person who keeps… Read More »

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