The prophetic donkey Not only can animals smell, hear and see things that humans cannot, at times they can even intuit spiritual forces of which humans seem to be oblivious. Both the Ramban and Rashi are intrigued by the capacity of Bilam’s donkey to “see an angel of Hashem” (Bamidbar 22:23). “Even humans do not see angels other than in visions or dreams,”  says the Ramban, “angels are spiritual forces that cannot be detected by the senses”. For this reason, he suggests initially, this particular animal simply intuited a danger that stopped its progress in its tr..
What you are willing to sacrifice is what you gain The opening passage of the Parsha holds the key to understanding courage. Zimri desecrated G-d’s name by publicly flaunting his illicit relationship with the Midianite Princess, Kozbi bat Tzor. Pinchas reacts passionately and in accordance with the Halachah of that time, assassinates Zimri and kills Kozbi. Hashem responds by rewarding Pinchas with an everlasting Brit Shalom (Covenant of Peace) manifesting in the hereditary rights of Kehuna. From now on Pinchas and his male descendants would be Kohanim. Rashi a..
Parshat Shelach Lechah 5767 Parshat Meraglim: Hashem’s response to Moshe’s prayer Your image as your personal amplifier Concern about one’s “image” is not always a sign of ego and insecurity: it can also be a necessary strategy to amplify a person’s effectiveness. Often the most profound truths go unheeded because the waves that transmit them are too feeble to be detected. Despite, or in many cases as a result of a world of increasing communication, bombarded as we are with email, the ubiquity of printed materials, the internet and a dissemination of knowledge and opini..
Vayikra, 26:3 We shall do and we shall hear! Mishpattim are generally known as those Mitzvot that have clear rational explanations. Chukim are considered mitzvot without clear rationale. Examples of Mishpattim are Mitzvot like the laws of damages, charity, business transaction etc. Chukim would include laws such as Sha’atneiz, Kashrut and Tum’ah. What about the Mitzvah to study the Torah: is that a Mishpat or is it aChok? Since there is rationale in studying the Torah, in order to know the Laws, it ..
Anyone unwilling to make himself into an ownerless desert, cannot master wisdom and Torah - Bamidbar Rabbah 1: Heroic Courage This week, while training leaders in one of the largest police agencies in the United States, I found myself in the presence of an impressive group of courageous medal-bearing men and women who had placed their lives at risk to protect the communities they serve many times in their careers. Courage was not a challenge to them; rather it was a precondition of their work. Yet time and again during our discussions, these men and women identified and verbalize..
Noble Noach and Nobel Al Bereishit 6:9 To change yourself, judge before you love. To change others, love before you judge! Environmentalism and Morality He was concerned about the future of the planet. He foresaw ever-worsening climatic conditions that could result in an environmental catastrophe capable of eliminating all life on earth. He tirelessly warned people, he pleaded with people. His name was Noach. He was not heard, nor was he awarded a Nobel Prize. Noach and Al Gore are both communicators of inconvenient truths. Why was the one mocked while the other rece..
Asking others for help doesn't make you seem weak; It makes them feel valued. Avodah: To Work and to Serve The word avodah is full of meaning. Simply it means both service (of G-d - particularly with respect to prayer and Temple service) andwork, labor. The first time the term avodah appears in the Torah is in Bereishis 2:5. The Torah describes the state of the world just before its greenery appeared. The trees, plants and grasses were ready to burst through the outer layers of the earth's surface, but they had not yet done so. The ear..
Ibn Ezra Devarim 8:3 Obesity is inappropriate for a Ben Torah Obesity (other than when clinically induced) reflects a lack of control that is incongruent with the personality of a Torah Jew. Obesity is America’s biggest health challenge. But obesity is not only about health. In the UK too, more than 50% of young boys will be dangerously overweight by 2050. But obesity is about more than lifestyle. We overeat because we have lost the balance of spiritual and physical nourishment. This loss of balance and its manifestation in obesity occurs as much in our religiou..