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Parasha Insights

HOW THE SANCTUARY MIRRORS THE HUMAN PSYCHE

A young lawyer, starting up his private practice, was very anxious to impress potential clients. When he saw the first visitor to his office come through the door, he immediately picked up his phone and spoke into it, making believe he was actually talking to someone. "I'm sorry, but my caseload is so tremendous that I'm not going to be able to look into your problem for at least a month. I'll have to get back to you then." He then turned to the man who had just walked in, and said, "Now, what can I do for you? Make sure to do this fast, as I am in a mad rush, as you can see from the endless telephone calls of clients."

"Nothing," replied the man. "I'm here to hook up your phone.”

Torah laws… Read More »

WHY WERE THEY SO GENEROUS?

 

An old Jewish beggar was out on the street, begging with his tin cup.

A man passed by and the beggar said to the man, "Sir, could you spare a quarter for a cup of coffee?"

And the man said, "Where do you get coffee for 25 cents?"

And the beggar said, "Who buys retail?"

"Doctor I need your help," complained Yankel. "I talk to myself."

"Do you suffer any pain?" asked the doctor.   "No."

"In that case," said the doctor, "go home and don't worry. 

Millions of people talk to themselves...many people have a similar condition. It is all good."

"But doctor," cried Yankele, "you don't know what a nudnik I… Read More »

NEGATIVE RESULTS ARE JUST WHAT I WANT

A preacher trained his horse to go when he said, "Praise the Lord," and to stop when he said, "Amen". The preacher mounted the horse, said, "Praise the Lord" and went for a ride.

When he wanted to stop for lunch, he said, "Amen".

He took off again, saying, "Praise the Lord".

The horse started going toward the edge of the cliff. The preacher got excited and said, "Whoa!". Then he remembered and said, "Amen", so the horse stopped at the edge. The preacher was so relieved that he looked up to heaven and exclaimed, "Praise the Lord!"

The rest is history…

Some twenty-seven hundred years ago, one of the most dramatic events in Jewish history took place… Read More »

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

A Jewish man traveling in a train ends up sleeping in the same cabin compartment as a general of the Russian Czar's army. He tells the conductor to wake him up at 4 a.m. so he can get off at his stop. He is awakened at the proper time, yet in the dark, he mistakenly puts on the clothes of the general instead of his own.

When he gets home, his wife asks him if everything is all right. He looks in the mirror and answers, "it seems like the conductor woke up the general instead of me."

In this weeks Torah portion Tezaveh says, "You shall bring forward your brother Aaron, with his sons from among the Israelites to serve me as priests… You shall make holy clothes for Aaron your brother, for glory and for… Read More »

WE MAKE A LIFE BY WHAT WE GIVE

In an effort to better understand his Jewish constituents, the Mayor reached out to a popular Rabbi.

The Rabbi invited the Mayor to spend Shabbat at his home.

The Rabbi made Kiddush Friday night on a full cup of wine. Then he made a l’chaim (a toast to life) after the fish on some fine Scotch.

The main course came with Israeli wine. They said grace after a meal with another cup of wine.

The next day they made Kiddush on wine at the synagogue.

After the service, they ate at the Kiddush and made a few more l'chaims.

They went home and the Rabbi made Kiddush for his family on another cup of wine, some l'chaim after fish, nice single malt with the cholent stew and some more wine for grace after the meal. And then when it… Read More »

HOW CAN YOU ALLOW JUSTICE TO BLIND YOU?

It is a beautiful law, recorded in Mishpatim:

When you lend money to my people, to the poor man among you, do not press him for repayment. Do not take interest from him.

If you take your neighbor's [night] garment as security [for a loan], you must return it to him before sunset. For this alone is his covering, the garment for his skin. With what shall he sleep? Therefore, if he cries out to Me, I will listen, for I am compassionate. 

There are 613 mitzvot in the Torah. Most of them are recorded without an explicit reason, especially not when the rationale is quite self-evident. The Torah, for example, never tells us why not to murder, or steal, or kidnap, or help the needy.

Yet, here there is an exception to the rule. The… Read More »

ARE YOU GREEDY FOR MORE?

Physics Teacher: You students need to look in your books. You need to be attentive so you can really learn and achieve. Isaac Newton was sitting under a tree when an apple fell on his head and he discovered gravity. Because he was attentive. Not like your kids!”

Student: “Yes sir, if he had been sitting in class looking at books like us, he wouldn’t have discovered anything.”

There is a Midrash on this weeks Torah portion Yitro, that tells us about Moses’ children.

When Moses asked Yitro for the hand of his daughter Zipporah, Yitro said: “Commit to one thing that I ask of you, and then you can have her as a wife.” Moshe asked, “What is it?”

Yitro replied, “The son born first… Read More »

HOW MUCH DO YOU CARE?

We do not care how much you know until we know how much you care.

The opening of our portion Beshalach related how Pharaoh had a change of heart right after he let the Jewish people go. "He said to the Children of Israel: They are lost in the land, the desert closed in on them."

Yonatan ben Uziel was one of the 80 sages who studied under Hillel the Elder during the century before the destruction of the Second Temple. He is the author of Targum Yonatan, an Aramaic translation and elucidation of the Torah, and a book of Kabbalah known as Megadnim. The Talmud describes his holiness by saying that when he studied Torah, any bird that flew over him was “burnt up.”

The Targum Yonatan interprets the verse literally.… Read More »

GRATITUDE FOR REBELLIOUS CHILDREN?

A couple had two little boys, ages 8 and 10, who were excessively mischievous. They were always getting into trouble and their parents knew that, if any mischief occurred in their town, their sons were probably involved.

The boys' mother heard that a Rabbi in town had been successful in disciplining children, so she asked if he would speak with her boys. The Rabbi agreed but asked to see them individually. So the mother sent her 8-year-old first, in the morning, with the older boy to see the grand rabbi in the afternoon.

The great rabbi, a huge man with a booming voice, sat the younger boy down and asked him sternly, "Where is G-d?”

The boy's mouth dropped open, but he made no response, sitting there with his mouth hanging… Read More »

WHAT IS SIGNIFICANT IN YOUR LIFE?

The patient tells the doctor after he took care of him from a potentially serious situation: Since we have become such close friends, I will not pay you. I don’t want to insult you by offering payment. But I want you to know, that as a sign of deep gratitude, I did put you in my will for after my death.

“That is so kind of you,” said the doctor. “But give me that prescription I just gave you; I’d like to make a little change in it.”

The Baal Shem Tov once said: “A soul comes down for 70-80 years just to do a favor to another Jew—a material favor, or a spiritual favor.”

Does this make sense? A life of 80 years is long, tedious, painful, exhausting, and packed with action. The person… Read More »

WHAT IS THE JEWISH LAW OF ATTRACTION?

The banquet was about to begin when the master of ceremonies was informed that the clergyman invited to give the blessing was unable to attend. He asked the main speaker if he would oblige, and the man agreed.

He began, "There is no clergyman present, let us thank G-d."

You all know that Rabbis are just like salesmen. The main difference is that the salesperson sells you something you want but don’t necessarily need, while the rabbi sells you something you need but don’t necessarily want…

But perhaps, the time has come to join the two. To sell not only what we need but also what we want.

The Torah, rarely describes the emotions, and the inner state of mind, of its characters. As a rule, the Torah described… Read More »

WHAT IS THE POWER OF A MOTHER?

I was sound asleep when the telephone jarred me awake.

"Hi!" It was my peppy mother-in-law. She proceeded to rattle on about the busy day she had ahead and all the things that awaited her the rest of the week.

"Mom," I interrupted. "It’s five in the morning."

"Really? What are you doing up so early?"

The Torah-reading of this weeks portion Vayechi recounts the culminating events of Jacob’s earthly life: his parting instructions and blessings to his children, his passing, funeral, and burial.

At his deathbed, Jacob suddenly begins telling Joseph about his mother Rachel’s death 50 years earlier. Why now?

Says Rashi: I am asking you to trouble yourself to take me to be… Read More »

WHAT WAS DISCOVERED THIS WEEK?

A dentist, after completing work on a patient, came to him begging.

Dentist: Could you help me? Could you give out a few of your loudest, most painful screams?

Patient: Why? Doctor, it wasn't all that bad this time.

Dentist: There are so many people in the waiting room right now, and I don't want to miss the four o'clock ball game.

In this weeks Torah portion Vayigash Judah has made a passionate plea for Benjamin’s release. Yes, the missing silver cup has been found in his possession. Judah does not challenge the facts. Instead, he throws himself on the mercy of the Egyptian ruler, of whose identity he is still unaware. He asks him to think of the impact Benjamin’s imprisonment will have on his father. He has already lost… Read More »

A PRISONER TURNS TO BE A PRIME MINISTER

The other day a young man told me about a call he'd recently received from a charity asking to donate some clothes to starving people throughout the world. 
He told them to get out of his life and never again ask him for his clothes.

"You see," he said, "anybody who fits into my clothes isn’t starving!"

In this week's portion, Vayeshev, at the age of 17, Joseph, the beloved child of our Patriarch Jacob, is snatched by his own brothers, thrown into a pit, and ultimately sold as a slave. Under the natural course of events, he would have remained a slave for the remainder of his life. However, in his Egyptian master's home, he was accused of seduction and attempted rape, and put into a prison. He spent… Read More »

A TALE OF TWO PRINCES

No English dictionary has been able to adequately explain the difference between COMPLETE and FINISHED. However, in a recent linguistic conference held in London, England, and attended by some of the best linguists in the world, Samsundar Balgobin, a Guyanese, was the clear winner.

The final question put to him was this: Some say there is no difference between COMPLETE and FINISHED. Please explain the difference between COMPLETE and FINISHED in a way that is easy to understand.

Here was his answer: "When you marry the right woman, you are COMPLETE. But, when you marry the wrong woman, you are FINISHED. And when the right one catches you with the wrong one, you are COMPLETELY FINISHED!"

Jacob had settled on the outskirts of the… Read More »

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