Category Religion

The Duty of Shabbat

Thoughts on Parasha Bo

It happened in the spring of 1997 or 1998. Back then I was a student at one of the technical secondary schools in Przemyśl. In the summer semester we had a so called “vocational apprenticeship”: instead of going to school, we’d spend one month in one of the local production plants. The production plant we had our apprenticeship in hired several Continue Reading

A Few Words About Hierarchy

Thoughts on Parashat Miketz

In last week’s Torah portion we read about the dramatic events of Joseph’s life. After he was sold by his brothers to Egypt as a slave he became a servant of Pharaoh’s official – Potiphar. He made Joseph the administrator of his home, entrusting him with all his property. Soon after, Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him. When he refused, Continue Reading

The Humiliation of Joseph

Thoughts on Parashat Vayeshev

The Torah portion for this week starts with the story of Jacob settling in Hebron with his twelve sons. His favorite son is seventeen-year-old Joseph, with whom his brothers are jealous for the preferential treatment he receives from his father. To make matters worse, Joseph relates to his brothers two of his dreams which foretell that he is destined Continue Reading

On (Divine) Protection

Thoughts on Parashat Vayetze

The Torah portion for this week starts with the story in which Jacob leaves his hometown of Beersheba and journeys to Charan, a major ancient city in Upper Mesopotamia (today’s southeastern Turkey.) On this supposedly pretty long journey he encounters a certain place and sleeps there dreaming of a ladder connecting heaven and earth with angels Continue Reading

To Speak Your Mind or Not

Thoughts on Parashat Vayera

The Torah portion this week contains only great and famous stories, including the story of Abraham interceding for Sodom and Gomorrah, their destruction, the story of Lot and his daughters. Then we return to Abraham again, this time he is in Geraar where he tells King Abimelech that Sara, his wife, is his sister. Our portion of the Torah also includes Continue Reading

Too Big, It Must Fail

Thoughts on Parashat Noah

This week’s parasha contains two great narratives that are at the foundations of the Judeo-Christian civilization and have inspired people for centuries: the story of Noah and the flood as well as the story of the Tower of Babel. The beginning of the story of Noah tells us about the great corruption that permeated the earth. To quote the Torah:

God Continue Reading

Everyone is Equal in the Face of Death

Thoughts on Parashat Va’etchanan

At the beginning of this week’s Torah portion Moses asks the Eternal to let him enter the Promised Land. God does not cave to his pleas, the only thing He offers him in exchange is a suggestion for Moses to climb to the top of mount Pisgah, from where he will be able to take a look at the Land given to Israel (Deut 3:23-27.) This story ends in Continue Reading

On the Balance Between Good and Evil Forces

Thoughts on Parashat Pinchas

At the very beginning of this week’s Torah portion God rewards Pinchas, the grandson of Aaron, for his zealous act – namely for killing the prince of the Simeonites Zimri and his lover Cozbi, a Midianite princess. As part of this reward God endows Pinchas with the covenant of peace and includes him in the priestly line for eternity (According Continue Reading

Force of Habit, Passivity, Fear and Their Consequences

Thoughts on Parashat Shelach

In this week’s Torah portion Moses sends twelve spies to the land of Canaan. They come back forty days later, bringing an enormous assortment of grapes, pomegranates and figs to prove the richness and abundance of the land they traveled across. However, ten of the spies warn everyone that the inhabitants of that land are giants and warriors “stronger Continue Reading

The King and His Son

Thoughts on Parashat Naso

Two weeks ago I devoted my drasha to Jewish unity and diversity. This week I will take up the topic of leadership. This week’s Torah portion speaks extensively about roles of Levites (in particular Kohathites and Gershonites,) Kohanim in the Tabernacle services, ritual purity, the ritual of nazirite and so on. The idea of purity, of “being fit” Continue Reading