Parasha Insights


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 »

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