Parshat Eikev, 5766: Birkat Hatorah and Birkat Hamazon

by in Eikev .

Devarim 8:10   Saying “Please” is Easier than Saying “Thank-you” The study of Torah, deep reflection into the wisdom of Hashem, is as nourishing to the soul as food is to the body. Both sources of nourishment are called Lechem . Both entail a struggle ( Lechem is aligned with locheim – “battle”). Both require that a beracha is said, both before partaking of them, and after. But for Torah, the more important beracha is said before reading it, and for a meal the more important beracha is said after eating. Our Bi..

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Parshat Ki Tetze 5766: Having Fun by Giving Pleasure

by in Ki Tetze .

Devarim 24:5   Feeling and transmitting feeling It is quite possible that animals, like humans, can experience some form of emotion. What is uniquely human though, is the capacity to transmit emotions to others. Humans can make others feel happy, sad, proud. That is the essence of art and music: the transmission of human emotion from artist to observer or listener. We can enthuse and inspire. We can uplift and move others to action. We can entertain and delight. Not only can humans transmit emotions, but often they derive more fulfillment from transmitting emotion, than from..

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Parshat Shoftim 5766: Business: The Act of Taking or the Art of Giving?

by in Shoftim .

Shoftim veShotrim – A Judiciary and a Police Force Regulations and enforcement are socially necessary. Yet regulations and enforcement do not make people great. People define their greatness by the degree to which they perceive themselves as takers or contributors. Takers need regulations and enforcement. Contributors do not. The Sarbanes-Oxley regulatory response to the Enron/Worldcom scandal does nothing to raise the ethical standard of business. Of course we do need a sound legal system with strong punitive consequences for those who exploit others for their own gain. But so long as..

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Parshat Ki Tavo 5766: Change! You can do it – and Now

by in Ki Tavo .

Change! You can do it – and Now is the Time   Devarim 26:1   Positive Thinking How powerful is positive thinking? Have you tried it? If you have, you probably found, as I have, that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Here’s why: If merely thinking positively about something made it happen, no one would be wanting for anything. Clearly it requires something of us that isn’t that easy. It requires i) courage, ii) selflessness (the absence of ego) and iii) absolute trust in Hashem. With these factors, positive thinking almost always works. Without them, i..

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Parshat Nitzavim-Vayelech 5766: Love means ALWAYS Having to Say You are Sorry!

by in Nitzavim .

Devarim 30:1-6   Exposing Vulnerability-Growing Trust-Building Intimacy Do you remember Eric Segal’s famous line in Love Story of the ‘70s, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”? With one ever so popular stroke of his pen, Segal deprived people of the growth and wonderment that stems from the majestic yet humble act of apology. It is easy to apologize as an act of courtesy or social ritual. We say “sorry” dozens of times a day. But saying “I am sorry” in a way that we mean it, and that comes across with authenticity, is so hard because it exposes our vulnerability. T..

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Parshat Bereishit 5767: In the Risk of Failure Lies the Key to Triumph

by in Breishit .

Bereishit 1:31 Bereishit Rabbah 9:2 The fear of error and failure, prevents experimentation and precludes achievement. Babies learn to walk by experimenting and stumbling. They experiment with language before they talk. If we convinced infants not to risk “making idiots of themselves”, not to risk failure, then they would never be able to walk or talk. It is because we applaud their attempts, encourage them back onto their feet and make them feel heroes rather than fools as they hesitantly step forth into uncertain spaces. Failure is not the end of a process. It is an unavoidable st..

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Sukkot 5767 : A Sacrifice of Space

by in Sukkot .

  Bereishit 22 Halacha: A Multi-Dimensional Reality Imagine how the world would appear to you if you were able to see it only with two dimensions, and had never ever used three. A cylinder seen from its top would look like a circle, and seen from its side would look like a rectangle. How tumultuous life would be if some of us could only see with two dimensions, and others with three! Imagine how the world would look if we had access to an extra dimension or two? Just as the two-dimensional person looking at the rectangle would be incapable of imagining how you or I saw a cylind..

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Parshat Noach 5767: In the Ashes of Ruin Lie the Seeds of Joy

by in Noach .

Bereishit 8:21 Sefer Yetzirah 5:9 Bereishit Rabbah 34:9 The Divine Aroma of the Barbeque In Parshat Noach we encounter the first reference to a sacrifice as having an aroma that is pleasing to G-d. This idea will be repeated many times in the Torah, but never looses its strangeness. What pleasure does G-d find in the barbeque aroma of a ritualistic sacrifice? In this case of the first sacrifice brought after the flood, the Midrash[1] says that G-d “smelled” in Noach’s sacrifices the aromas ofAvraham and of Chanania, Misha’el and Azaria&n..

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