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Parasha Insights

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 »

CUT AND PASTE

Once upon a time, a computer programmer drowned at sea. Many were on the beach and heard him cry out, “F1! F1!”, but no one understood.

Of course, the F1 key on the computer is the code for “help…”  

Customer: “I can’t seem to connect to the Internet.”

Tech Support: “Ah, right. What operating system are you running?”  

Customer: “Netscape.”

Tech Support: “No, what version of Windows are you using?”  

Customer: “Uhhh…Hewlett Packard?”

Tech Support: “No, Right click on ‘My Computer,’ and select properties on the menu.”

Customer: “Your computer? It’s my… Read More »

DON’T STOP SINGING!

Izzy is sitting in synagogue one Sabbath morning when he falls asleep and starts to snore. The synagogue caretaker quickly comes over to him, taps him softly on his shoulder and says, "Please stop your snoring, Izzy, you're disturbing the others in the shul."

"Now look here," says Izzy, "I always pay my membership in full, so I feel I have a right to do whatever I want."

"Yes, I agree," replies the caretaker, "but your snoring is keeping everybody else awake."

It is one of those strange Talmudic stories.

The weekly Torah portion of Korach tells of the mutiny staged by Korach and his many supporters against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. “The entire community is holy; why do… Read More »

HOW THE IMPOSSIBLE BECOMES POSSIBLE?

Standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand, "Listen," said the CEO, "this is a very sensitive and important document, and my secretary has left. Can you make this thing work?"

"Certainly," said the young executive.

He turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button.

"Excellent, excellent!" said the CEO as his paper disappeared inside the Shredder machine. "I just need one copy."

It was perhaps the single greatest collective failure of leadership in this Torah portion Shlach. Moses sent twelve men to spy out the land. The men were leaders, princes of their tribes, people of distinction. Yet ten of them came back with a demoralizing… Read More »

DO YOU LIVE UP TO YOUR FULL POTENTIAL?

A man received a promotion to the position of Vice President of the company he worked for. The promotion went to his head, and for weeks on end, he bragged to anyone and everyone that he was now VP. His bragging came to an abrupt halt when his wife, so embarrassed by his behavior, said, “Listen, Bob, it’s not that big a deal. These days everyone’s a vice president. Why they even have a vice president of peas down at the supermarket!”

Somewhat deflated, Bob rang the local supermarket to find out if this was true. “Can I speak to the Vice President of peas please?” he asked, to which the reply came: “of fresh or frozen?”

Rabbi Rafael of Barshad summed up his life’s philosophy as… Read More »

IS EVERYONE LIKE AN ENTIRE WORLD?

A bereaved husband feeling his loss very keenly found it desirable to divert his mind by traveling abroad. Before his departure, however, he left orders for a tombstone with the inscription:


"The light of my life has gone out."


Travel brought unexpected and speedy relief, and before the time for his return he had taken another wife. It was then that he remembered the inscription, and thinking it would not be pleasing to his new wife, he wrote to the stone-cutter, asking that he exercise his ingenuity in adapting it to the new conditions. After his return he took his new wife to see the tombstone and found that the inscription had been made to read:


"The light of my life has gone out

But I have struck another… Read More »

A LIFE-CHANGING NIGHT

A farmer and his wife were sitting on a couch when a tornado came and swept them out of the house. There they were, flying through the air together on the couch when the wife began to cry.

The farmer said to her, “This is no time to cry! We need to think of ways to land safely!”

She replied, “I can't help it! I'm so happy because this is the first time we've been out together in twenty years.”

Sometimes it takes a crisis to make us ask, who am I? What kind of spouse am I? What kind of person am I? What have I done with my capacities? It is part of the beauty of Judaism that on Shavuot we are called on to ask just that question:

Who am I?

Shortly before the famous French Enlightenment philosopher… Read More »

WHEN IS REAL TIME?

A talented artist asked his gallery owner if anyone had shown interest in his paintings.

"I've got good news and bad news," she said. "The good news is that some guy inquired if your work will appreciate in value after you die. When I told him that it would, he bought all 15 of your original paintings. He spent 4.9 million dollars on your paintings."

“That’s awesome,” exclaims the artist. “I can now retire in wealth. And the bad news?"

"That guy was your doctor."

There is a fascinating Mishnah studied on this Shabbat—in chapter five of Ethics of the Fathers:

“Ten things were created at twilight of Shabbat eve,” We study in Ethics of… Read More »

ARE YOU A “DAY-JEW” OR A “WEEK-JEW”?

An Amish boy and his father were visiting 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 were watching wide-eyed an old lady 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 w/numbers above the walls light up. They continued to watch the circles light up in the reverse… Read More »

DOES YOUR LIFE BELONG TO YOU?

A Gabbai approaches a guest in the shul and says, "I want to give you an Aliyah. What is your name?"  The man answers, "Esther ben Moshe."

The Gabbai says, "No, I need your name."

"It's Esther ben Moshe," the man says.

"How can that be your name?"

The man answers, "I've been having financial problems, so everything is in my wife's name."

It is a very strange Torah law—in fact, it borders on the absurd:

The Torah tells us, in this week’s portion Emor about the ancient Jewish legal processes, which included capital punishment for certain serious crimes, like murder and other extremely severe crimes. It states that such punishment can only be applied when… Read More »

DO YOU HAVE TO JUDGE ME?

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 heard 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 The biblical commandment, which we often do not think about as such:

With Justice, you… Read More »

WE ARE STRONG

"We are STRONG. We are UNITED. They CAN'T BREAK US." These were Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein's words to his congregation last Shabbat as the terror attack was taking place at Chabad of Poway.

In response to this horrific attack let's #ShareShabbat, this Shabbat I encourage all to make an extra effort and come to services beginning at 9:30 AM followed by a Kiddush at approximately noon.

Please rest assured that we have taken extra security measures to secure our facility and all who attend services. May the Almighty protect all of us and the world at large. 

As the Jewish world grieves for the heinous terror attack on Chabad of Poway, last Shabbat, April 27, 2019; as we are alarmed and… Read More »

COURAGE IS CONTAGIOUS

Winston Churchill was a man of great insight. He once said, “Of all the virtues, courage is the greatest virtue because, without it, you can’t have any of the others.” What good is it to be kind, honest, charitable or just, only when it’s easy? You cannot practice any of the other virtues very long without bringing courage into play.

There’s a classic study, conducted by psychologists Charlan Nemeth and Cynthia Chiles, demonstrating that one act of courage supports another. Each participant in the study is matched with three other people, and a researcher shows each group a series of 20 slides. After each slide is presented, the researcher pauses to ask each person what color the slide is. It’s an easy… Read More »

NOT TRUE NOR GOOD NOR EVEN USEFUL WHY TELL?

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."

There is a fascinating story recorded in Midrash in the opening of this week’s portion Metzora:

The… Read More »

CAN CRISIS ALSO MEAN OPPORTUNITY?

There was this guy at a bar, just looking at his drink. He stays like that for half of an hour.

Then, this big trouble-making truck driver steps next to him take the drink from the guy and just drinks it all down. The poor man starts crying. The truck driver says, “Come on man, I was just joking. Here, I’ll buy you another drink. I just can’t stand to see a man cry.”

“No, it’s not that. This day is the worst of my life. First, I fall asleep, and I go late to my office. My boss, outrageous, fires me. When I leave the building, to my car, I found out it was stolen. The police said that they can do nothing. I get a cab to return home, and when I leave it, I remember I left my wallet and credit cards… Read More »

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