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Parasha Insights

IS THE HUMAN HEART A MIRROR?

A father passing by his son's bedroom was astonished to see that his bed was nicely made and everything was picked up.

Then he saw an envelope, propped up prominently on the pillow that was addressed to "Dad." With the worst premonition, he opened the envelope with trembling hands and read the letter.

Dear Dad:
It is with great regret and sorrow that I'm writing to you. I had to elope with my new girlfriend because I wanted to avoid a scene with Mom and you.
I have been finding real passion with Stacy and she is so nice. But I knew you would not approve of her because of all her piercing, tattoos, tight motorcycle clothes, and the fact that she is much older than I am.
But it's not only the passion...Dad, she's… Read More »

CAN YOU BE LOYAL AND SELFISH AT THE SAME TIME?

A man once a college student in a very prestigious school was asked what he was majoring in.

He replied: “Decision making.”

The man was intrigued. “Really, there is a whole department in university on the science and psychology of decision-making? Wow. And what will you do with a degree in decision-making?”

He replied, “I haven’t yet decided.”

The biblical debut of the favorite matchmaking is recorded in this week’s portion, Chayei Sarah. Isaac is 40 years old, he needs to get married and so Abraham sends his faithful servant Eliezer on a search. Unlike modern-day matchmaking in which people are profiled based on vital issues like political alliances, music, and wine, Abraham gives… Read More »

I SPENT SHABBAT WITH FAMILY

A Jewish couple was celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary. During the feast, the woman stood up and said: "I'd like to make a toast to myself for sticking it out with this man for fifty years, and I want to tell you, that the fifty years of our marriage have felt like two days."

The crowd was very moved by her words. But one man asked, "Why like two days, and not like one day?"

"The fifty years of our marriage," replied the woman, "felt like two days: Tisah B'av and Yom Kippur."

There seems to be a constant troubling pattern in the life of our fathers and mothers. Whenever they came to a new location, they claimed that they were brothers and sisters, rather than spouses, so that their… Read More »

CAN YOU BE A HERO TO YOUR CHILDREN?

In a Jewish school in Ukraine, there was a history teacher who was an ardent Communist.  Her gods were Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin. She had no soft spot for Judaism, but because she was a terrific teacher and knew her stuff, they hired her in the Chabad school, on condition that she sticks to her subject and stays off the topic of religion. 

One day she quizzed her students on the period from the end of the 18th century to the end of the 19th century.  The teacher asked: Who knows what was the most important historical event of the year 1799?

One child raised his hand and said that was the year Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the founder of Chabad, was released from Czarist prison.

The teacher yelled: What?! Who’s… Read More »

ARE WE RETURNING BACK TO NORMAL?

After a performance, a cantor - trying to impress- tells the crowd that his voice is insured with Lloyds of London for 1 million dollars. A voice from the back of the room says "so what did you do with the money?"

In the entire drama, it is easy to ignore what might seem like a lackluster moment in this week’s Torah portion Noach.

As the floodwaters recede, Noah opens the window of the ark and sends out the raven, which "kept going and returning.” So Noach sends out the dove to see if the water has receded sufficiently so that he can leave the ark. The dove returns to the ark, as it could not find a place to rest because the earth is still engulfed in water. Noach waits seven days and resends the dove.

And… Read More »

CAN YOU CHERISH THE TRIGGERS?

An investment advisor decided to go out on her own. She was shrewd and diligent, so business kept coming in, and pretty soon she realized that she needed an in-house counsel. The investment banker began to interview young lawyers.


"As I'm sure you can understand," she started off with one of the first applicants, "in a business like this, our personal integrity must be beyond question." She leaned forward. "Mr. Mayberry, are you an honest lawyer?"


"Honest?" replied the job prospect. "Let me tell you something about honesty. Why I'm so honest that my father lent me $15,000 for my education, and I paid back every penny the minute I tried my very first case."


"Impressive. And… Read More »

WHO IS A GENUINE PERSON NOT FAKE?

I received this message on my Whats App: Born before Sep. 4, 1998? Congratulations! You are older than Google.

So I just told my kids I’m older than Google. They think I am joking. I told them: Actually, I’m like Google’s granddaddy. Yet Google knows me better than my wife knows me.

The holiday of Succot starting this evening we buy the four species mandated by the Torah. The lulav (palm branch) with its accompanying willow and myrtle stems are easily chosen. But choosing the Etrog, citron, is an entirely different matter. For the most exquisite Etrog, you need to spend time studying the hundreds of yellow lemon-like fruits at your local Etrog dealer. The story of the Etrog is one of the most fascinating and complicated… Read More »

DANCE OF FORGIVENESS?

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 good, sweet, and healthy new year.


A man once had too much to drink at a party. He made a fool of himself and then passed out. Friends helped his wife take him home. The next morning, he was very remorseful and asked his wife to forgive him. She agreed to forgive and forget the incident completely. Perhaps this story hits close to home for some of you...


As the months went by, however, his wife referred to the incident from time to time, always with a little note of ridicule and scorn in her voice.
Finally, the man was fed up with being reminded of his bad behavior and said, “I thought you were… Read More »

CHANGE YOUR MINDSET CHANGE YOUR LIFE

Years ago, at a crowded Chassidic gathering, I saw a ninety-year-old man agilely climb over a bench and push people aside to make room for himself. Someone called out: Old fellow, how do you move so agilely? He replied, “I am not an old man of ninety. I am three young men of thirty!”  I want to focus on two words that have the power to change our lives. I’ll begin with a story.

A rabbinic colleague of mine met a talented young man. It seemed like he was blessed with everything. He was smart, charismatic, handsome, and came from a loving family. When the Rabbi first met him, he thought that if anybody had a reason for happiness, it would be this man. He seemed to lack nothing. But soon the Rabbi realized that… Read More »

WHAT IS YOUR ONE WISH?

Chaim Bialik, one of Israel’s great poets, once found himself walking through the very religious neighborhood of Meah Shearim, in Jerusalem, looking for a synagogue. Coming across a young child in the street, Bialik asked him, “Where’s the synagogue?”

The child replied, “The synagogue is only for Jews, not for non-Jews.”  To which Bialik retorted, “ Why do you think I  m not Jewish?  The child answered, “ Because you are not wearing a kippah. ”  Bialik, looking up to the heavens, said, all of heaven is my kippah. The boy, looking up at him, said, “That’s far too big a kippah for such a small… Read More »

DO YOU KNOW WHAT DEFINES YOU?

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 »

CAN YOU FORGIVE YOUR CHILD FOR NOT BEING PERFECT?

In a military class, the professor asked the students, "What is the difference between an engagement and a battle?" 

No one in the group offered any answer. The professor was frustrated. “Didn’t anyone read the material in the book?” he thundered.

Finally, one guy said that he knew the answer.

"An engagement is a thing that came before marriage," he said, "while the battle is what followed it."

In this week’s Torah portion Ki Tezeh, we read of a story about a really monstrous teenager, who gives his parents such trouble, that they actually take him to the High Court not to be locked up, but to be executed by the court so that he leave this world innocent.

How are we to… Read More »

HOW MANY FAVORS CAN YOU DO?

Mark Ginsberg never pays his bills, especially not during this time of recession. Recently his friend saw him bargaining with a supplier.

"Hey, Ginsberg," Goldberg asks him, why are you knocking that man's prices down? You're never going to pay him anyway.

Listen, answers Ginsberg, he is a nice chap. I just want to keep down his losses!

The weekly portion Re'eh states what has become one of the cornerstones of Jewish life:

“If there will be among you a needy person, from one of your brothers in one of your cities… Rather, you shall open your hand to him and give generously. Then because of this the Lord your G-d will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. The Rabbis… Read More »

IS LIFE DIFFICULT?

A little boy was afraid of the dark. One night his mother told him to go out to the back porch and bring her the broom.

The little boy turned to his mother and said, "Mama, I don't want to go out there. It's dark."

The mother smiled reassuringly at her son. "You don't have to be afraid of the dark," she explained. "G-d is out there. He'll look after you and protect you."

The little boy looked at his mother real hard and asked, "Are you sure he's out there?"

"Yes, I'm sure. He is everywhere, and he is always ready to help you when you need him," she said.

The little boy thought about that for a minute and then went to the back door and cracked it a little. Peering out into the darkness… Read More »

THE VACCINE FROM THE TALMUD

Rachel and her husband Max are in their local kosher restaurant. Even though Rachel always seems to find something to moan about in this deli restaurant, they still regularly go there because the food is good and it's frequented by many of their fellow seniors.

As usual, within minutes of taking their seats, Rachel starts to bother their waiter. "Waiter," she says, "please turn up the air conditioning. You know I can't stand a hot atmosphere."

But then, five minutes later, she asks the waiter to turn down the air conditioning because she is too cold. Soon after, she wants it turned up again because she's getting too hot. But then their food arrives on the table and Rachel is at last silent as she eats her… Read More »

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