Torah Columns
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Dedicated to the memory of my cousin Binyamin ben Daniel ve’Yehudit, Benji Hillman, hy”d, of blessed memory, a Company Commander in Golani’s elite Egoz unit who fell leading his men into battle in the Second Lebanon War on the 24th of Tammuz in the summer of 2006. more
In the history of mankind, rulers have often had the power over who will live and who will die. In some cases, one’s prison sentence might be linked indefinitely to the grudge of the ruling power, and reprieve might come about upon the latter’s death. Much would depend on the nature of the crime of which the individual stood accused, while in many cases, there may not have been a crime committed at all. more
There are no words to explain the horrific tragedy that unfolded in Brooklyn last week, only questions. The positive side of the story is the outpouring of love, concern, and support that a community could exhibit for a child and for his family, in the aftermath of a conclusion no one could anticipate, expect, or face as being the reality. more
This week on the Jewish calendar, we commemorated the breaching of the Old City walls of Jerusalem by the Roman Tenth Legion on the 17th day of Tammuz in the year 70 C.E., heralding the beginning of the end of the Jewish Second Commonwealth, and the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash. As we gaze upon the ruins of those walls, we will fast, and some of us will even cry, remembering how 2000 years ago, the peaceful streets were filled with the triumphant cheers of Roman legionnaires bent on our destruction. more
Before its exposition of the holidays and their respective sacrificial offerings, the Torah gives us its only reversal of the most repeated verse in the Torah. Normally it says “And G-d spoke to Moshe saying.” Here it says “And Moshe spoke to G-d saying.” more
The festival of Sukkot was around the corner, and I realized I had no way to get a set of four species (arbah minim) in time for the festival. We were actually in Lebanon at the time, and as the only kippah-wearing soldier on the base, I knew I was on my own, and the thought of having no set of ‘arbah minim’ was really depressing. more
I remember it like it was yesterday. While millions of Americans celebrated their nation’s independence, we were all glued to our radios and television sets waiting for news of the fate of the Israeli hostages hijacked on an Air France jet and being held captive in Uganda. more
Bilaam desperately wants to go with King Balak’s men to fulfill what he believes is his destiny to curse the Jewish people. Knowing of his own relationship with G-d, however, he will not accept the job until he is given permission from G-d. He makes this quite clear to Balak’s first agents. more
In the battles that round out the end of Parshat Chukat, Moshe and the Israelites defeat Sichon and Og, and their respective nations. Before the battle with Og, Moshe is told by G-d not to fear for “I have given him into your hands.” (21:34) more
Cold; so cold it cuts through the rags that were once clothes, straight to the bone.Cold; so cold it cuts through the rags that were once clothes, straight to the bone. There was a time this cold so occupied your very being you could concentrate on nothing else. But that was long ago. Darkness; so dark it sometimes seems more than the mere absence of light; it seems almost tangible. You vaguely recall a time when you were obsessed with determining exactly where you were, pacing in the darkness to examine your environs. You figured out you were in some sort of a concrete cell, perhaps six feet square, but not much more than that. You used to wonder what color the walls were, never having been allowed to see them, but that curiosity has long ago been replaced with more basic needs. more
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