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Why Envy? (Korach)

In this week’s parshah, Moshe and Aharon find their authority challenged by Dasan and Aviram. At first glance, it seems like these two revolutionaries emerge from total obscurity; we know little about them, and they appear nowhere else in the Torah. (more…)

Bread and Curses (Shelach)

The following article outlines very roughly the beginnings of a wide-ranging theory which explores the connection between the story of the “wood-gatherer,” in this week’s parshah; the “blasphemer,” in parshas Emor; and the collection of mann, in parshas Beshalach. Hope to develop it further in the future. Enjoy!

The tale of the the “megadef” (the blasphemer”), recounted at the end of parshas Emor (source #1),[1] is deeply enigmatic. It is the only narrative which appears in a parshah otherwise dedicated entirely to the ritual laws of kohanim, the holidays, and the mishkan. As such, it seems entirely out of place. Two problems, in particular, warrant our careful consideration: (a) What, exactly, led the megadef to curse Hashem? (b) When, exactly, did this incident occur?  (more…)

Bitter Waters (Naso)

Below are some very quickly written thoughts regarding the symbolism of the curious “sotah” ritual described in last week’s parshah, Nasso, and relevant as well to this week’s parshah, Beha’alotcha. The basic argument is that the “bitter waters” central to the sotah ritual ought to be understood in light of the “bitter waters” which b’nei Yisrael drank shortly after Moshe and Miriam led them in “shirat ha-yam.” Particular attention will be placed upon the contrast between Miriam and the sotah; as part of that analysis, we will touch upon the larger significance of Miriam’s argument with her brother, Moshe, recorded at the end of this week’s parshah. (more…)

Success Secrets (Acharei Mot)

Earlier version delivered this past Shabbos at Congregation Ahavas Achim in Highland Park, New Jersey:

“Today, I want to sure with you the secret to success.”

Have you ever heard someone start a sentence that way?

I hear it all the time. (more…)

Seeing Stars (Ki Tissa)

In this week’s parshah, Bnei Yisrael worship the golden calf. Given the events of the past few parshas—the exodus from Egypt, the splitting of the sea, the miracles of food, water and shelter, the revelation at Sinai—few might have seen this coming. But, Rashi claims, at least one person did: Pharaoh. That’s right: according to Rashi, Pharaoh predicted, all the way back during the ten plagues, that Bnei Yisrael would succumb to idolatry upon leaving his country. (more…)