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Parasha Insights

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 »

DOES IT ALL MAKE SENSE?

Once there was a millionaire, who collected live alligators. He kept them in the pool in the back of his mansion. The millionaire also had a beautiful daughter who was single.

One day, the millionaire decides to throw a huge party, and during the party, he announces, "My dear guests, I have a proposition to every man here. I will give one million dollars, or my daughter, to the man who can swim across this pool full of alligators and emerge unharmed!" As soon as he finished his last word, there was the sound of a large splash in the pool. The guy in the pool was swimming with all his might, and the crowd began to cheer him on. Finally, he made it to the other side of the pool unharmed.

The millionaire was impressed. He said… Read More »

MY REGARDS FROM JERUSALEM

Shalom to all my friends in Great Neck and to all my virtual friends, so many of whom I feel I know personally from your feedback and comments on my weekly emails. Today, I write to you from home, not my temporary home on Long Island but our true home, the land of Israel. I am here to commemorate my dear father's Reb Dovid ben Reb Zev OBM Yahrtzeit. When the plane touched down in Ben Gurion airport, an inexplicable feeling of warmth enveloped me for I knew I was home, in a country that G-d has said will always be ours. Yes, there is some tension in the air, for our enemies sent tow missiles from Gaza to Tel Aviv, but the miracles are so open thank G-d they did not hurt any one. The resilience of our people is strong and the courage of our… Read More »

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 »

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