Bereishit, 18:19 Parshat Vayeira, 5768 Natural Law and Miracles Every Jew, every descendant of Avraham, can himself or herself above the forces of nature, and experience miracles. This is so even though most of the time most of us are subject to the general trends of the world and to the programs of the universe. Hashgacha Prattit(Hashem’s personal attention and protection) is individually focused on us only at critical moments in our lives. For the rest of the time, unless we are one of the pious few, we are subject to the natural laws of the univer..
One day of Shavuot or seven? We have three festive holydays a year: Pesach, Shavuot, and Sucot. Pesach and Sucot are each seven days long. Shavuot is one day only….or is it? It is interesting that the only holyday that is not a week long, is called Shavuot “Weeks”! This is not only because of the weeks of the Omer. The Gemarra associates the name “weeks” specifically with the festival itself. Two patterns overlay the Shavuot theme: a pattern of days and a pattern of weeks. Shavuot is both a single-day festival after 49 days of Omer counting, and also it is the week after seven weeks..
Reflections in the Lights Chanukah 5767 © Rabbi David Lapin, 2006 Magic Moments We beautify our Chanukah Lights: we buy glamorous Menorot, and use the purest of oil or the most beautiful of candles. But we never get the joy of the splendor we create! Immediately after lighting, and singing Ma’oz Tzur, we rush off and miss the magic moments of savoring their beauty. We are in too much of a rush! We have too much to do! Yet only moments before, we piously said: “Ein Lanu Reshut LeHishtameish Bahem, Elah Lir’ottam Bil’vad” (We do not have permission to make use of the Cha..
The Three Steps to Successful Traveling I travel a lot, as I am sure many of you do. The geographical journeys have been the easiest ones. This applies to the transcontinental ones too, such as my current journey from California, through Europe, South Africa and Australia before returning to California. The harder journeys have been the intellectual, emotional and spiritual ones, and their destinations by far the most exciting and rewarding. On these journeys you are your own pilot; yet often you do not choose your destination. Life is your vehicle; but you cannot cont..
Breishit: 22 The Akeidah The torah reading on Rosh Hashanah includes the perplexing story of Akeidat Yitzchak, the near sacrifice of Yitzchak. The Midrash links that event to the Teshuva process (apart from the fact that chronologically it occurred on Rosh Hashanah). Avraham says to Hashem: at first you told me “Your seed will be named after Yiotzchak”. Later you said “take your only son and sacrifice him”. Yet I did not question You. Instead I set aside my feelings of mercy for my son to do Your will. In the same way when Yitzchak’s children come to do..
FOR YOM KIPPUR 5767 In my Rosh Hashanah essay, Life in Paradox, I wrote about the Katuv Hashelishi that explains paradox: even the paradox of human behavior - including our own. There is almost always a force, sometimes within us and sometimes external to us, that explains why we did things that without recognition of that force, appear absurd even to us. That does not remove from us our own accountability, but it allows for mercy, empathy, understanding. That is the understanding Avraham asks Hashem to apply on the Day of Judgment. In the new Shiur series, Tomer Devorah, Shi..
Journeys are typically linear. They are a means of getting from one point to another. Some journeys are not about getting from one place to another but about the experience itself. A trans-Atlantic voyage for example, is linear; a Caribbean cruise may well be circular. A cruise, unlike a voyage, is an end in itself. Journeys bring about change. A voyage changes your location. A cruise may change your mind-space. You may land up at the same geographical point from which you departed, but your experience will have been different and you will probably be in a different mi..
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 Ko..