Parasha Insights

Light and Strength in the Darkness

These are challenging times for our people and for all good people. For Jews, one of the most powerful resources for millennia has been thanksgiving and gratitude. In our transition, we express gratitude hundreds of times a day, at every step of the road. Before I eat an apple, after I come out of the bathroom when I open my eyes in the morning, and when I am about to retire. How do we cultivate this life-changing gift during times of visceral pain and distress?

In this week’s Torah portion, Jacob traveled from Beer Sheva to Haran. Beer Sheva, Hebrew for the well of the oath, was named after the oath of friendship taken by Abraham and the Philistine king, Abimelech. Haran was named after the Hebrew word haron, which means… Read More »

Two Forms of Kindness

These loving, pleading words came from Margalit Megidish as she prayed for her daughter, Ori, whom Hamas took hostage. Ori Megidish is a soldier who served on a base near Gaza that was overrun on October 7 by Hamas. Hamas slaughtered many of her friends and took her and several others as hostages to Gaza. A short while after her mother’s prayer, Ori was rescued by the IDF in a complex daring raid.

Many wondered how Margalit could say, “I love you,” while her daughter was held hostage by the cruelest monsters on earth. Indeed, Margalit was in a dark pit of despair. Indeed, her tears flowed freely as she prayed, her heart torn asunder. But amid her prayers, the words “I love you” tumbled out. In this time of… Read More »

The iPhone, and the Terrorists From Gaza

Growing up in the aftermath of the Holocaust, many of us were tempted to fantasize about how things would have turned out differently if only conditions had been a bit more favorable. Indulging in the “if only” train of thought is how we seek to protect ourselves from the harsh realities of what is.

 Many of us also experienced the natural tendency to explain why things are different now and the Holocaust can never happen to us, not here and not now.

Take the ubiquity of the smartphone.

I’ve often imagined that if someone had an iPhone back in 1942 and snuck over the barbed wire into Auschwitz and took photos and videos and even live-streamed the atrocities, surely everything would come screeching to a… Read More »

What is the power of unity?

The power of unity is palpable across the holy land these days and the entire Jewish world. It is an incredible shift from how things were less than a month ago. For many months, Jews were screaming at each other in support and in protest of the government’s planned judicial overhaul. The invectives hurled were painful and extreme.

There was also a terrible divide between religious and non-observant Jews. Just this past Yom Kippur, Chabad of North Tel Aviv held outdoor services because their facility was too small for the congregation. Tel Aviv had passed a bylaw forbidding gatherings in public areas with separate seating for men and women. Jewish protestors spent their Yom Kippur  hurling insults at fellow… Read More »

We are one people

In my conversations this week with one of the finest soldiers in Israel Yair Ansbacher, I asked him where are we heading from here.

He responded, 
 "The difficult events surrounding the outbreak of the war in Gaza brought together between religious Jews and other segments of the population, and even revealed a sense of appreciation from the secular left and leaders of the protest against the government, to the most ultra-religious who rallied to save lives in a time of crisis.

In these days, Yair Ansbacher serves as a volunteered reservist fighter in the Lotar unit on the day everything started when we realized a major event was happening in the South, he recounts. Initially, there was a very severe shock, both mentally… Read More »


Everyone is horrified beyond words at the unthinkable mass murders committed on Simchat Torah in Israel by Hamas, inside our country, across a dreadfully unprotected southern Israel — a valiant southern Israel where our people fought against impossible odds against an enemy.

We Were Shaken to the Core; We will Respond with Our Core.

Since the Holocaust we never had so many Jews killed in one day. Yet it also differs from the Nazis, because the Jews now thank G-d have a country and, while shocked and horrified by what has befallen us, resurrected the unified will, to protect ourselves and root out the cancel of terror and sadism.

President Biden said this week: I visited Israel 50 years ago. Golda Meir revealed to me the secret… Read More »


I write this article five days after the Hamas massacre of Jews in Israel. It is one of the most difficult articles I have ever written. We cry bitter tears over the more than twelve hundred beautiful precious souls that were cruelly and inhumanely snuffed out. We are paralyzed by the sheer magnitude of the horror that our brethren experienced. We imagine their terror, the agony of knowing they are about to die, the unbearable trauma of watching their loved ones tortured to death, and the sheer pain of their own death. We imagine and we cringe. We wring our hands. We close our eyes, but the images remain.

We are in grief. We are in mourning. We are numb. And we are enraged. We want to rise like lions and reverse this tragedy. We want to… Read More »


Sol calls the Rabbi. “Rabbi, I am preparing for the end. I am searching for the right rabbi to officiate at my funeral and give the eulogy. So, I am shopping around for the right one. It all depends, of course, on the price.

Sol was wealthy but stingy, and a tough guy.

“Rabbi, how much would you charge to do my eulogy?” The Rabbi responds: Depends on what you want. If you want a super deluxe package, it costs $10,000.

For that, you get a beautiful eulogy, during which I cry. For $5000 you can get a deluxe package. I give a beautiful eulogy, I say beautiful things about you, but no tears.

Rabbi! That’s too expensive. What can I get for 500 bucks?  “For 500 dollars,” says the rabbi, “I will… Read More »

What is the key to “happiness?”

A young man, fresh out of business school, answered a want-ad for an accountant. He was interviewed by a very nervous man who ran a three-man business:

"I need someone with an accounting degree," the man said. "But mainly, I'm looking for someone to do my worrying for me."

"Excuse me?" the young accountant said.

"I worry about a lot of things," the man said. "But I don't want to have to worry about money. Your job will be to take all the money worries off my back."

"I see," the young accountant said. "And how much does the job pay?"

"I will start you at eighty-five thousand dollars a year. We will give you a 50,000 raise each year.”

"Eighty-five… Read More »


 I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a “Gamar Chatimah Tovah,” may you be sealed in the Book of Life for a goodsweet, and healthy new year.

I remember my first roller coaster ride as though it were yesterday. I was seven years old at Six Flags Great Adventure, on a ride called “the American Scream Machine.” My heart was pounding as the coaster slowly started its climb to the top. When it hit the top, there was a momentary pause; the sun beat down on us as we waited. Suddenly, the cars jerked into motion while rapidly gaining speed. We were hovering over a long, steep drop above a lake. I gripped the shoulder harness as we plunged into a free fall, and all I heard was terrible screaming. I… Read More »

The fire of faith

I want to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a “shana tova,” a sweet and healthy new year.

On the holiest moments of the year, the prelude to the sounding of the shofar, the spiritual highlight of the Rosh Hashanah services, and the sound that stays with us throughout the year is a song by the sons of Korah. The mere mention of the name Korah evokes division, rebellion, selfishness, deceit, and disunity. There are so many other inspiring Psalms that could have been selected; why this one, with this pedigree?

The answer is this: We are about to blow the shofar and ask G-d for a year of good health and blessing. An individual listening to the blast might think, “I am unworthy. After all the things I have… Read More »

What is the Secret to Love That Lasts?

A husband was arrested for shoplifting in a supermarket. When he went to trial, the judge asked him, “What did you steal?”

“A can of peaches,” he replied.

The judge then asked him why he had stolen the can, and he explained that he had been hungry.

The judge asked him, “How many peaches were in the can?”

“Six,” he replied.

“Then I will give you six months in jail,” the judge ruled.

But before the judge could rap his gavel, the man’s wife stood and said, “Your Honor, I've got something to say.”

 “What’s that?” the judge asked.

“He also stole a can of peas!”

The husband is still recovering. The swelling in his eye is… Read More »


A couple is in the midst of a tremendous fight, as a gunman breaks into their home. Pointing his rifle at the woman of the home, he asks her for her name. The terrified woman mutters, “Elizabeth.”

“This is your lucky night,” the gunman responds. “I just can’t get myself to kill somebody who carries my mother’s name, may her soul rest in peace. My mother was a special woman. I won’t shoot you.”

He then points the riffle at her husband’s head. “What is your name?” thunders the gunman. The poor man is terror-struck. He knows that his answer will equal life or death, and pauses to think.

“If you don’t want your brains blown out, tell me your name right… Read More »

How do I choose the right path in life?

The Jewish physicist and Nobel prize-winner Isidore Rabi, was once asked why he became a scientist. He replied: “My mother made me a scientist without ever intending it. Every other mother would ask her child after school: “What did you learn today?” But my mother used to ask, instead, “Izzy, did you ask a good question today?” That made the difference. Asking good questions made me into a scientist.”

Judaism is a faith that encourages questions. In the yeshivah, the home of traditional Talmudic learning, the highest praise a teacher can give a student is, “You ask a good question.”

One of the most interesting and fascinating mitzvot in the Torah is the one of “sending away the mother… Read More »

Milk vs. Meat

A dog walks into a butcher shop and the butcher asks, “What do you want?” The dog points to the steak in a glass case. “How many pounds?” The dog barks twice. “Anything else?” The dog points to some pork chops and barks four times. So the butcher wraps up a two-pound steak and four pork chops and places the bag in the dog’s mouth. He then takes money from a purse tied around the dog’s neck and sees him out. A customer, who has been watching in amazement, follows the dog to a house several blocks away, where it rings the doorbell to be let in.

As the owner appears at the door, the customer says, “What a remarkable dog!” “Remarkable?” snorts the owner. “This is… Read More »

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