Torah Commentary

Vayeshev: You should have stopped me!

When I’m driving with my wife, I express annoyance when she tells me where to turn.  But what annoys me even more is her remaining quiet, as a result of my first complaint, when I make a wrong turn!   This is similar to a story told by the... Continue Reading »

Vaiyetzei: How to Bargain with G-d

Is it okay to try to bargain with G-d for what we want, and if so, what's the most likely effective method? In this week’s Parashah, Vayeitzei, Jacob flees from his brother Esau after receiving their father’s blessing through trickery.   J... Continue Reading »

Toledot: Hunting and Guns in Judaism

“When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the outdoors.”  Genesis 25:27  It’s hard to think of an area that more starkly contrasts American and Jewish culture than hunting and guns.  They are hugely popular in Am... Continue Reading »

Chai Sarah: How Should We Help Others?

In this week’s Torah portion Abraham sends his servant Eliezer to find a wife for Isaac.  Abraham provides no criteria other than that she must come from the land of Abraham’s birth.  The future character of the Jewish people is in Eliezer’... Continue Reading »

Va-Yera: How Do You Know?

My four-year-old grandson – to whom I haven’t even mentioned law school yet, much less explained “cross-examination” -- has picked up the habit of asking me, “How do you know?” whenever I make a statement.  It can be annoying, but it’s also a wo... Continue Reading »

Ki Teizei: Human Nature is Not a Croc

In Kenya last month, I watched several hundred migrating wildebeest and zebra cross a river. The animals gathered on the bank and milled around nervously until one literally “took the plunge.” The others followed in a mad dash for the rocky slope on ... Continue Reading »

Devarim: Did You Ask the Boss?

Asking G-d for help with difficult decisions or actions (even though actually an integral part of many prayers) is something that many of us associate more with “Twelve Step” programs, or with “fundamentalist” adherents of other religions, than with ... Continue Reading »

Matot-Massei: Blaming Others? Hold the Phone!

About a month ago, I posted a D'var Torah about our obligation to give people the “benefit of the doubt” and even to “make excuses” for them, unless their prior behavior demonstrated that doing so would clearly be unjustified.  Little did I... Continue Reading »

Balak: The Satan Within Us

Do Jews believe in Satan?  For many of us, “Of course not!” is the likely answer.  Indeed, the question itself may seem entirely non-Jewish.   Except that this week’s Torah portion (Balak) states:  “The angel of the Lord pl... Continue Reading »

Chukkat: Not for the Sake of Argument

It’s a cliché about Jews with which we can’t argue: we argue. But that doesn’t mean we’re good at it.  That when arguing we are either fair or persuasive.  It’s ironic, because we should be good at it – not primarily through constant pract... Continue Reading »
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If charity cost nothing, the world would be full of philanthropists.
Jewish Proverb