Torah Insights

Rosh

Every Jewish holiday has its unique theme, activated by a specific ritual. Many think that Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of the world. But the day is really about creation of humankind and our purpose on earth, soul in body. The
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Tambourines

Music, song and dance is often an outgrowth of happiness and inner freedom. The creativity enables a person to escape the straits of this world and inspire the listener. An ancient circular percussion instrument comprising a wooden frame with skin
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Sadness

I remember the day during the first semester of my junior year at the University of Texas at Austin, I was going through the typical turmoil and struggles of a college student—a rough relationship break-up, figuring out my future, and
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Empathy

We all carry around burdens, gnawing issues that distract us. On this topic, Proverbs (12:25) offers the following advice: “A worry in a one’s heart—yash’chena.” The Talmud provides two interpretations of the last word, yash’chena: the first sees it as an expression meaning “forget,”
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What makes a good teacher.docx

A talented educator: What qualities make someone a good teacher? A simple and important question that we must answer at various points in our lives, but to which we often don’t give enough thought. Is it how well someone present
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Chanukah 2016

The festival of Chanukah is about light and darkness, but there are some gray areas in the story—overlooked details—that when examined closely, may change how we view the famous event. The Talmud records the story as follows: “Only a single container
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Yisro

This week we read about the giving of the Torah and the declaration of “the ten commandments.” As they are the building blocks for moral societies and religions, we often take these essential commandments for granted- believing that they are
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Vayechi

This week we will conclude the first of the five books of the Chumash- Bereishit– and enter the book of Shemot. It is the end of the dramatic images and densely rich literature featuring our patriarchs and matriarchs, and the
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Vaeira

  One of the most famous stories and dramatic scenes in the entire Torah appears this week: G-d instructs Abraham to sacrifice his son Issaac!   When in 8th grade here in Dalllas, at Levine Academy, the principle and Jewish studies
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Tu b’Av

  This week we celebrated a festival known as Tu b’Av– the fifteenth day of the month of Av. It is a day in the Jewish calendar that often goes unnoticed. There is no special service, no commemorative rituals or
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One Sheep, 70 Wolves, and a Great Shepherd – Purim

One Sheep, 70 Wolves, and a Great Shepherd In Tractate Megillah, the Talmud relates an exchange between the famous leader Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his students in which they ask him “why was it that the Jewish people were
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Acharei

  Throughout the Bible we read of the rise and fall of the Jewish people. And many times the most precious moments, the peak of our spiritual success is when our vulnerability is suddenly exposed – and some of the
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Tazria

The number eighth has been a recent theme in the Torah. Last week’s reading dealt with a unique moment in Jewish history that occurred on “the eighth day.” The classical Biblical commentaries (i.e. the Kli Yakar) explain the connotation of
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Sukkot

There are two common approaches to viewing time, and particularly to viewing the yearly cycle of Jewish events and the festivals. One approach consults the calendar, takes note of the important dates, and tries to best coordinate these important events
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Staying Young:

There are times in our lives when we are inspired, eager to learn, and to take on new projects. As we move forward, we gain knowledge effortlessly, without even noticing how much progress is being made. During these times, the
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Plagues

The highlight of this week’s Torah portion is onset of the series of ten plagues that were brought on to defeat the Egyptian oppression and free the Jewish people. One may read these verses on the surface. Or one may
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Parshat Terumah

  This week’s Torah portion, Terumah, provides a fascinating exploration of multiple layers within the verses and commentaries, the dense dialogue between the very literal analysis, the historical context, and the most profound imagery- all within the same words. Terumah
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Free Choice

  It comes in the face of an inner battle.   It involves sacrifice.   It is an intellectual decision.   It is a calculation of benefit, weighing the short term pleasures against the long term gratification.   It is
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Ethics

  In the study of Torah, every season welcomes a new subject of interest, a new opportunity. As the summer approaches, there is a custom to study a chapter of Ethics of our Fathers every week, the body of classical
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Dividing the Land

One of the new ideas that we read about last week is the division of the land of Israel, bestowing the inheritance of their particular portion to each tribe, each person. Initially one might think that the process of allocation
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