Pesach- Why Karpas?

After we wash our hands and return to the table, the karpas is offered around. The Shulchan Aruch lists several different types of vegetables that can be used for karpas or maror, but most contemporary sources conclude that Ashkenazic Jews have the custom of using potatoes (though some sects of Ashkenazim, including those of German […]

Metzora- Tzara’at… But in a Good Way!

וַיְדַבֵּ֣ר ה’ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה וְאֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֖ן לֵאמֹֽר׃ כִּ֤י תָבֹ֙אוּ֙ אֶל־אֶ֣רֶץ כְּנַ֔עַן אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֲנִ֛י נֹתֵ֥ן לָכֶ֖ם לַאֲחֻזָּ֑ה וְנָתַתִּי֙ נֶ֣גַע צָרַ֔עַת בְּבֵ֖ית אֶ֥רֶץ אֲחֻזַּתְכֶֽם׃ And Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon saying: When you come to Eretz Canaan which I will give to you as an inheritance and I will put tzara’at on the houses of the land which […]

Tazria- Seeking the King on the Muddy Bed of the Exile

Our sedra opens with a discussion of the impurities which a woman who has just given birth experiences, and the length of time which she remains impure after giving birth to a son or daughter. The Zohar (beginning of Tazria) doesn’t waste any time in getting off subject, immediately quoting a passuk from the beginning of […]

Shemini- This Is Not the Time to Be Silent

In our sedra, at what is perhaps the climax of chanukat hamishkan, Aharon’s precious two older sons are killed by a heavenly fire, after they offer an “אש זרה” in the heichal. We’ve already discussed that this may have been a well-intentioned error, a drunken mistake, or Nadav and Avihu just being in the wrong […]

Purim- Shaking Off Our Servitude

On nearly every Jewish day of celebration, including our second most recent salvation of Chanukah (and, according to most gedolim, even the most recent one, Yom Ha’atzma’ut), we read and sing a specially curated collection of Tehilim in praise to Hashem. Called Hallel, its purpose is as simple as the name- praising Hashem for saving […]

Amalek: The Danger of not having Doubts

In the world of behavioral psychology, one of the most powerful motivators for human behavior is doubt. Human nature dictates that as long as a person is sure of their beliefs and intentions, they cannot be stopped- one need not look farther than the inspiring example of the thousands of olim who come to Israel every year, […]

Rosh Chodesh Adar II-May this Month Be an End to our Suffering

As we slowly but surely approach the holiday of Purim, Jewish People around the world celebrated the second Rosh Chodesh Adar over the past two days. In nearly all synagogues in Israel and a select few outside, the congregants concluded Mussaf according the traditional tefilah text of the Vilna Ga’on (commonly known by its all-too-misleading misnomer, Nusach […]