Yesterday does not predict tomorrow Timeless values rather than transient, political events are the subjects of these essays. But this week’s events in the United States are not transient and they are far more than political. They call for comment. The US elections are the third event in eight years that permanently changed the course of global history. But there is something even more startling about those events than the changes they ushered in. In all three cases we saw the failure of yesterday to predict tomorrow. The three events were 1) September 11th; 2) the current..
The Wisdom of Trust The creation of Adam and Chava on the sixth day, inaugurated a short period of intellectual and spiritual grandeur for man, a grandeur that lasted for no more than six hours. Then it was shattered – not by Chava or Adam eating from the forbidden fruit of the Eitz Hada'at, but because their union was compromised by the poison of mistrust. Adam and Chava were super-intelligent. They were "arumim" (Chakimim, wise, according to the Targum Yonattan). Their wisdom however was not vested in their individual beings but in the unit of their togeth..
This essay was written on my Father Avi Mori Reb Ahraham Chaim ben R. Dov Ztz’l’s 17th Yahrzheit, 12th Kislev, le’ilui nishmosso venishmas Imi Morassi Marras Maiiia bas R.Dovid Haleivi. It is dedicated to their blessed memory. What is Family? The blood relationship between members of a family defines whofamily is but not what family is. Two sons of the same parents are brothers, two daughters are sisters; two people descended from the same grandparents but not the same parents are cousins. But what does it mean to be a..
Parshat Vayera 5768: Yediah, Hashgacha and Bechira – Divine Omniscience, Individual Attention and Personal Free Choice
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..