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Parasha Insights


Natan Sharansky was a mathematician and chess prodigy who gave up a privileged position in Russia to become a Jewish activist in 1973 when he became a refusenik. In 1977, he was arrested and served 9 years in prison, mostly in solitary confinement. As a result of international pressure, he was finally released in 1986. He moved to Israel, where, for a period of time, he was a politician.

He was asked to characterize the difference between himself and other Israeli politicians. He answered, “Unlike many Israeli political leaders, I went to jail before serving as a politician.”

This week’s Torah portion, Vaetchanan, relates Moses’ impassioned speech to his people about their history and destiny. The… Read More »


          A contractor requested quotes to build two apartments.

The Irish builder quoted him $500,000: “$200,000 for labor, and $300,000 for materials.”

The Scottish builder quoted him, “$600,000. $300,000 for labor and $300,000 for materials.”

The Jewish builder quoted $1 million.

The contractor asked, "How did arrive at that figure?"

"Easy," came the reply. “$250,000 for you, $250,000 for me, and we will get the Irishman to do the job."

On the ninth day of the month of Av (Tisha B'Av) in the year 70 CE, the Roman legions in Jerusalem smashed through the fortress tower of Antonia into the Holy Temple and set it afire. In the blackened remains of the… Read More »


A man and woman were recently celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

While cutting the cake, the wife was moved after seeing her husband’s eyes fill with tears. She took his arm and looked at him affectionately.

“I never knew you were so sentimental,” she whispered.

“No... No...” he said, choking back his tears. “That’s not it at all. Remember when your father found us in the barn and told me to either marry you or spend the next 50 years in jail?”

“Yes,” the wife replied. “I remember it like yesterday.”

“Well,” said the husband, “Today I would have been a free man.”

This week's double Parsha is the concluding portion of the Book… Read More »


A woman told her husband, “You really brought religion into my life.”

“How so?” he asked. “I am an atheist!”

“Until I married you I didn’t believe in hell.”

This week’s Torah portion, Pinchas, relays how Moses confronts his own mortality and asks G-d to appoint a successor. His words are moving:

“May the Lord, God of the spirits of all flesh, choose a man over the congregation… they should not be like sheep without a shepherd.”

G-d tells Moses to appoint Joshua as his successor; he will be the nation’s next leader.

Then there is a strange juxtaposition. Moses is pleading for a new leader; he fears his flock will be left without a shepherd. G-d… Read More »

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