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WHAT EXACTLY IS EXILE?


How contemporary is every word of Torah!

Tragically, the events of this week’s Torah portion are reflected in our own days. As our sages tell us, “In the period which will precede the coming of the Messiah, insolence will increase … those who dread sin will be despised … and truth will be absent…” (Sota 49b). 

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"YOU HAVE RAISED MY SOUL FROM THE LOWER WORLD"


What does King David have to do with the holiday of Shavuos?  

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THE PATH OUT OF EXILE


I believe that it is appropriate during the Sefiras HaOmer countdown between Passover and the holiday of Shavuos to contemplate our own life and our relationship to events in the world around us. Especially in this era of history, a realistic assessment of world events is likely to lead one closer to the Master of the Universe, as it becomes increasingly clear that we cannot depend on the surrounding culture.  

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THE VOICE OF G-D IS UPON THE WATERS


“Kol Hashem al hamayim …. The voice of G-d is upon the waters. The G-d of Glory thunders. G-d is upon vast waters. The voice of G-d is in power! The voice of G-d is in majesty! The voice of G-d breaks the cedars; G-d shatters the cedars of Lebanon…” (Psalm 29).  We say these words every Sabbath eve. 

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WHAT IS SEFIRAS HaOMER?


We are in the count-down – excuse me, the count up! – from Passover to Shavuos.

It’s amazing! It’s great! But there are so many things I don’t understand. 

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GETTING PAST FEAR


We have reached a new level in our weekly Torah portion. From the Book of Genesis through last week’s Torah portion, in which Israel receives the Torah at Mount Sinai, the Torah portions have been narrative, beginning with the epic story of Creation, the formation of the Nation of Israel, and culminating in the redemption from Egypt and the (literally) earth-shaking meeting between G-d and His Chosen People at Mount Sinai.  

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THE SALVATION OF G-D


How can we sing songs of praise when the world is burning? 

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DARKNESS AND DARKNESS


There is physical darkness and spiritual darkness. These distinctions are not theoretical.  

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THE EIGHTEENTH OF TEVES


In this week's Torah reading, our ancestors descend into Egypt and the days of exile begin. Immediately, the Torah informs us, "a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know of Joseph." (Exodus 1:8) Exile begins innocently. We may even think it is for our benefit, but it never works out for us, because we are meant to live in subservience only to G-d. 

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FAREWELL TO THE PATRIARCHS


This week we say “goodbye” to the Patriarchs. “When Jacob finished instructing his sons, he drew his feet onto the bed; he expired and was gathered to his people.” (Genesis 49:33) 

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HOW DID WE SURVIVE EGYPT?


This week's Torah portion ends with the words, "Vayaishev Yisroel ... Thus Israel settled in the Land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen; they took property in it and they were fruitful and multiplied greatly...." (Genesis 47:27) 

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CULTURE OF SELF-WORSHIP


The “wicked Greek kingdom” in the time of the Maccabeans was so dangerous that we commemorate our liberation thousands of years later. What was the problem? How exactly did the Greeks attempt “to make Your people Israel …. forget Your Torah and compel them to stray from the statutes of Your Will?” 

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REFLECTED LIGHT


Chanukah is the quintessential holiday of exile.

The neiros (Chanukah lights) illuminate the darkest season of the year. This is the only holiday that begins during the period of the waning moon. The days of Chanukah actually become darker and darker ... until the very end, because Chanukah ends just when the sliver of the New Moon is becoming visible in the night sky. 

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ANA HASHEM HOSHIA NA … PLEASE G-D, SAVE US!


“Jacob was left alone and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn.” (Genesis 32:25)

Who was more alone than our father Jacob? Jacob is alone and his children are alone. “Behold! It is a nation that will dwell in solitude and not be reckoned among the nations.” (Numbers 23:9) That is our unique position in the world and also our strength. 

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WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BE AFRAID


As I write these words, the headlines read, "Terror in Tel Aviv, Gush Etzion." And then, the following week, the headlines read, "Terrorists kill four rabbis." 

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RAISING OUR EYES


"[Isaac] raised his eyes, and behold: camels were coming... Rebecca raised her eyes and saw Isaac ...." (Genesis 24:63-4)

King David said, "I raise my eyes to the mountains; from where will my help come? My help is from Hashem, Maker of heaven and earth..." (Psalm 121) 

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EVIL AUTOMOBILES


The Torah portion of Bereishis described how Hashem made a perfect world. This week’s Parsha describes how man can destroy it! I regret to say this (although everyone knows it): today’s world resembles Sodom a lot more than the Garden of Eden. But Hashem has limited tolerance for the destruction of His world. What happened to Sodom is very relevant to us today. 

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WHY WE NEED TO ACT LIKE ANGELS


The essential message of Yom Kippur is that everything depends on our spiritual condition. To the extent that we follow Hashem's will, our life will be good. The economy is not the determining factor. Politics is not the determining factor. Social issues are not the determining factor. The only thing that counts is our relationship with G-d. That's it. 

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THE WORLD KNOWS MOSHIACH IS COMING


"The Little sister - she prepares her prayers and proclaims her praises. O G-d, please heal her ailments now. Let the year and its curses conclude ... Let the year and its blessings begin!" (Achos Katanah) 

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BRINGING OUR FATHER HOME


 When children play hide and seek, they are looking for someone who's there. If he's not there, there's no game. 

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WHY THIS WAR WAS DIFFERENT


The guns are silent. The missiles have stopped flying ... for now.

There was something different about this war. 

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HOW PEACE COMES


"When you will go out to war against your enemies...." (Deuteronomy 21:10). Thus begins this week's Torah portion. We are learning a lot about war these days. 

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DON'T BLAME THE MEDIA


People are upset at the media.

During the War in Gaza, it seemed as if the entire world was against Israel! And for good reason! It was! I want to ask: are you surprised? 

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