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Every Friday night we say in Eishet Chayil, “Gimalat’hu tov vilo ra—She bestows good and never bad all the days of her life” (Mishlei 31:12). In the simple pshat, this is referring to the female gender; however, allegorically, it is referring to Torah.

Rav Avraham Genechovsky zt”l, previous rosh yeshiva of...

Probing the Prophets: Parashat Sh’lach

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This week’s haftarah is taken from the second perek in Sefer Yehoshua, which actually relates events that took place even before those found in the first chapter. The first chapter includes the commands that Yehoshua gave to B’nai Yisra’el to prepare for entering Eretz Cana’an within three days. The story of the spies sent by the new leader, however, reports that the spies hid for three days, before they crossed back over the Yarden to rejoin their people at the Israelite camp, indicating that they were sent even before Joshua called for the nation to prepare for their entry into the new land.

Many of the commentaries are puzzled by the decision to send the spies at all. After...

Probing the Prophets: Parshat Beha’alotcha

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The haftarah that we read from Sefer Zecharya this week is one familiar to us, for it serves as the reading for Shabbat Chanukah as well. The obvious connection to both Shabbatot is the theme of menorah, which is the source of our eight-branched chanukiah and the seven-branched menorah of the Mishkan that opens our parsha. The connection between parsha and haftarah, however, is deeper than that one common theme.

In the Torah reading we learn of the many preparations for the eventual entry of Bnei Yisrael into Eretz Yisrael. We read of the consecration of the Leviim and their inauguration into the service of Hashem and the Mishkan. We learn of the people’s departure from Har Sinai and...

Celebrating Our Unsung Heroes

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This past week at my shul, Ohr Torah, we celebrated the amazing achievements of our graduates at our annual Graduation Kiddush, spelling out the well-earned honors and awards of each individual. In the modern world’s challenging environment it is very hard to excel and we should take every opportunity to celebrate those milestones and accomplishments.

The week before we cheered on our graduates, we had another kiddush where we celebrated people who often get overlooked during this festive season.

Motivational speaker and author Sara Borgstede wrote a popular blog post listing some of the achievements that she thought we don’t recognize in our graduates. With apologies to her, I want...

So Who Are the Lamed Vav Tzadikim?

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As a boy, and up until today, I was always intrigued by the concept and tradition of the 36 hidden righteous. I remember people speaking of them with great reverence, in whispers and undertones. Unfortunately, nowadays, they are spoken of in the wrong context and freely, whether out of ignorance or misconception and sometimes in the most inappropriate ways. And so I did some research in Hasidic and other sources and came up with some interesting points.

For many faiths, there are the punishments and rewards of the afterlife to motivate us to be good on earth. But not everyone spends a lot of time pondering these future realms or even believing in them. So then, why bother to be...
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