Parasha Insights


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 do 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 »

What is the ultimate parental guide?

Izzy owned a small pizza shop in Brooklyn. One day, a tax inspector knocked on his door and questioned him about his recent tax return.  Izzy had reported a net profit of $300.000 for the year and he wanted to know all about it.

"It’s like this," said Izzy. "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 $300,000."

"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, Australia… Read More »


At the foot of Mount Sinai over 3,335 years ago we received the Torah. We accepted the gift still in its wrapping paper and promised to unravel it for the rest of our history. Every year, every day offers us the opportunity to look more deeply into the Torah, to peel back another layer of meaning, and to listen to its gentle song.

In 2019, an Australian documentary was released, available for streaming on Amazon Prime, called the Outback Rabbis. It follows two young Chabad families as they hit the Aussie bush on a road trip like none other, looking for Jews who are isolated and have little contact with the Jewish community to uplift them and connect them with their heritage. They offer Jewish books, a chance to lay Tefilin or light… Read More »

Unity Within Diversity?

One day three men came into the presence of G-d - an Englishman, a Frenchman, and a Palestinian. They all had a question for Him.

The Englishman came first and asked when the British Empire would be restored, and its flag will fly all over the globe again.

G-d answered, "In the year 2250".

The Englishman replied, "Hm... not in my lifetime".

Next, the Frenchman asked when the glory of the Napoleonic age would be restored with the French flag standing tall once again.

G-d answered, "In the year 2465".

The Frenchman replied, "Hm ... not in my lifetime".

Finally, the Palestinian asked when the entire land of Israel from sea to sea would fly the Palestinian flag.

G-d replied… Read More »


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 would 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 the twilight of Shabbat eve. These are the mouth of the earth [that… Read More »

What is The Ultimate Marriage?

One day at a busy airport, the passengers on a commercial airliner are seated, waiting for the cockpit crew to show up so they can get underway. The pilot and co-pilot finally appear in the rear of the plane and begin walking up to the cockpit through the center aisle. Both appear to be blind.

The pilot is using a white cane, bumping into passengers right and left as he stumbles down the aisle, and the co-pilot is using a guide dog. Both have their eyes covered with huge sunglasses. At first, the passengers don't react, thinking that it must be some sort of practical joke. However, after a few minutes, the engines start revving and the airplane starts moving.

The passengers look at each other with some uneasiness, whispering among… Read More »

Tell your problems how great G-d is!

Moshe meets Arnold at their social club and asks how Abe's funeral went the other day.

"It went OK, Moshe," replied Arnold, "but at the end of the Rabbi's eulogy, we all burst out into laughter. It was embarrassing.”

"Why was that?" asks Moshe.

"Well," says Arnold, "throughout his marriage to Miriam, she was always telling us, his friends, what a mean guy he was. He was obnoxious and selfish. Plus, he never had a steady job and the money he brought home to her wasn't enough for food and clothing, let alone holidays. Yet he drank heavily and often stayed out all night gambling. Altogether, he was a bum.

But at the funeral, the Rabbi spoke of how wonderful the deceased was, so… Read More »


When the Jewish people left Egypt, G-d sought to impress them with a miracle so spectacular that no one who experienced it would ever doubt His power or His providence again. He caused the waters of the Red Sea to split, letting the Jews pass through in safety and releasing the waters to drown the pursuing Egyptian oppressors.

After crossing the sea, awestruck, the Jews sang G-d’s praise, pledging their eternal loyalty to Him: “G-d,” they said, “You will be our King forever and ever.”

How long did their eternal love last? A mere 48 hours!

By the third day after the crossing, the people were hot, tired, and thirsty. They complained to Moses about the lack of food and water. Then, within weeks of the… Read More »


Last Pesach, an Orthodox friend of mine, Shmuly, was at a business meeting during the middle days of the holiday. When lunchtime came, his colleagues went out to local restaurants, but Shmuly remained at the conference table and took out his matzah and hard-boiled egg. As he unwrapped it, another colleague joined him and unwrapped his lunch too. It was ham and cheese—on matzah.

The colleague looked at Shmuly with a relieved smile and said:
“Boy, I'm glad I'm not the only one. It's hard to explain Passover, isn't it?” Well, today I want to explain the name of the holiday.

Let us consider for a moment this unique and remarkable Seder evening. It is a moment in time that brushes eternity. It is not unusual for a Seder… Read More »

Matzah or Chametz?

I always talk to myself; it is the only way to ensure intelligent conversation. —A man

There is something intriguing you will notice in any Torah scroll—and Chumash—in the opening word of the third book of the Torah, Vayikra, Leviticus. The opening words of the book are: "He called to Moses." The Aleph of the word, "He called” is the first word in the Book of Leviticus. The aleph is written in miniature.

This is how it has been since the first Torah Scroll was written by Moses 3300 years ago. But why? What is the significance of this?

Contrast this with one more place in the Tanach where the Alef is written in a large size—larger than the usual Alef. That is in the opening verse of the… Read More »

Sunrise Doesn’t Last All Morning

My go-getter coworker asked me, "Andrea, why to put off till tomorrow what you can do today?”

I replied, "On the chance that I get fired this afternoon and don’t have to do it at all.”

Today I will not discuss a verse, word, or even letter of the Torah portion. Instead, we will explore something glaringly absent from the weekly portion.  As you know, sometimes that which is not said can teach you more than that which is said.

At the end of every Torah portion in every published Chumash, it states how many verses there are in this portion, followed by a mnemonic, a “siman,” a word or two, handed down by tradition, whose numeric equivalent equals the number of verses in the Parsha.

For… Read More »


A boy asks his father to explain the differences between irritation, aggravation, and misery.

Dad picks up the phone and dials a number at random. When the phone is answered he asks, "Can I speak to Ralph, please?"

"No! There's no one called Ralph here." The person hangs up.

"That's irritation," says Dad.

He picks up the phone again, dials the same number, and asks for Ralph a second time.

"No--there's no one here called Ralph. Go away. If you call again,

I shall telephone the police." End of conversation.

"That's aggravation."

"Then what's ‘misery’?" asks his son.

The father picks up the phone and dials a third time:

"Hello, this is… Read More »


I write my weekly letter this Thursday, not from the comforts of Great Neck, but rather from the noisy, people-filled streets in Jerusalem. I am now in Israel in honor of my father’s 20th yahrtzeit and just prayed at the Kotel for my Great Neck family and the entire Jewish family.

Each time I come, there is something I notice that never ceases to amaze me.  We may speak differently, eat differently, drive differently,, and even “argue” differently, still, we are truly one people, one family, and one home.

I hear it in the conversations in Jerusalem, in the busy streets of Tel Aviv, and in the homes of “sabras”.  We all want a safer world, a more innocent life for our families, and our children… Read More »


Abie and Sadie had worked for years in the shmata business. Finally, they made it big, very big, and to get a little legitimacy they give a big gift to the local orchestra. As a thank you for their contribution, they are invited to a very fancy dinner party.

At the party, Sadie looks around for an entrée to this most impressive crowd. Hearing a group of ladies discussing Beethoven, she senses her chance. “Beethoven?” She says,

“Happens I know him very well. In fact, just the udder day I saw him on the number five bus going to the beach.”

There is a hushed silence. Everyone is embarrassed by Sadie’s faux pax. And then they all burst out in laughter.

Abie feels utterly humiliated. Back in the… Read More »


Math Teacher: "If I have 5 bottles in one hand and 6 in the other hand, what do I have?"  Student: "A drinking problem."

Teacher: "Which book has helped you the most in your life?"

Student: "My father's checkbook!"

It is one of those astounding enigmas, loaded with symbolism.

The cardinal event of Judaism happens in this week’s portion, Yitro, the event we call Matan Torah the giving of the Torah, or the Revelation at Mt. Sinai when G-d revealed Himself to an entire people and gave them the Ten Commandments. All of Judaism, from its most central tenets down to its most intricate laws, is based on that single event. If this event happened, all the Torah is true, if not—it… Read More »

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.