|The unsolved mystery of the menorah|
20 December, 2015
What most of us know about the holiday of Hanukah is the Jewish revolt
against the ruling Greeks to fight assimilation, the miracle of the eight-day
oil, and the rededication of the holy Temple.
|Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus?|
26 April, 2015
We know him as the tyrant who governed Egypt
and who enslaved the Jewish People – Pharaoh. He’s the evil ruler who refused
to free the Jewish slaves, and saw his country lying in ruins after God
|Do not launch words of mass destruction|
11 October, 2014
I’ll say it with certainty: if given the choice between smacked hard in the
head with a baseball bat, or a personal detail of mine being revealed to many
people, I’d choose to have my head whacked.
|Jay Leno headlined UJA Toronto fundraiser|
11 September, 2014
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto launched its 2015 fundraising campaign
Sept. 10 with an event at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, featuring
standup comedy from former Tonight Show host Jay...
|Poor get passed over on Passover|
3 April, 2012
Walking through the supermarket this time of year can be particularly
daunting for the kosher consumer. The prices of non-kosher items at
times can be half the price of the Passover items.
|Of Tombraiders and the hunt for Jesus|
11 March, 2012
When a bulldozer
razes acres in Israel, it’s not just another day of construction. A typical
story means stumbling upon treasure – be it artifacts, bones or documents long
buried in an area r...
|Over-board with overaccommodation|
21 September, 2011
If The Thornhill Liberal's offices ran like the York Region public school board, there would be no newspaper produced on Rosh Hashanah. Shellfish and ham sandwiches would be prohibited in th...
|Theft at Auschwitz reverberates for local Jews|
18 December, 2009
Holocaust survivors and Jewish educators were aghast upon hearing
Friday of the theft of the Nazis' infamous iron sign over the entrance
of Auschwitz, in Poland.Those entering the still-standi...
|Ontario's Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit generates a war of words.|
31 July, 2009
Israel, always the centre of controversy, has been for some time
trying to win a war on the battlefield, as well as a war of words. This
time, the words coming from Israel are two millennia ol...
|The holy city belongs to Jews|
3 July, 2009
Religiously and historically, Jews have always pointed to Jerusalem
as the epi-centre of Jewish spirituality. As for legal ownership,
however, there is confusion for many in the haze of recent Unite...
|Glorifying one God doesn't make us the same|
15 June, 2009
What God Really Wants You to Know , by C. David Lundberg (Heavenlight Press, softcover, 448 pages, $24.57).
Pope Benedict XVI’s recent visit to the Holy Land emphasized the idea
that the t...
|B’halot’cha – The punishment for shaming another|
12 June, 2009
This week’s parsha teaches how serious an offense it is to
publicly shame someone through speech, even when it is done unintentionally. We
can learn much about how severe a crime is by und...
|Bamidbar – Everyone Counts|
22 May, 2009
Aptly called “Numbers,” the fourth book of the Torah begins
with a census of the Children of Israel.
In Hebrew, it is called “Bamidbar,”
which shares the same root word of dvar (speak)...
|BEHAR-BECHUKOSAI – Strengthening Oneself, and Helping to Strengthen Others|
15 May, 2009
your fellow becomes impoverished, and his means falter, you shall strengthen
though it is a tremendous mitzvah to help somebody out of hard times, and
|EMOR – Bad Representation|
8 May, 2009
A friend of mine once told me the story of a question he posed to his
rabbi. He asked whether it was a good idea to take on a certain
stringency with milk products, halav yisrael, as part of his gro...
|ACHREI – KEDOSHIM – The Rest is Commentary; Now Go Learn|
1 May, 2009
Kedoshim - nothing holier than ten of the basic ethical imperatives
outlined (see below), one of which is “love your fellow as yourself,”
the central line in the Torah, according to two of Jud...
|TAZRIA-METZORA – Words As Swords|
24 April, 2009
There is an old, perhaps apocryphal, story which goes something like this:
A man confesses to his rabbi that he is guilty of talking badly about
others, and asks the rabbi what is required to...
|SHMINI – Animals: Sacrificing and Eating Them in a Kosher Way|
18 April, 2009
Two main themes I see in this parsha are that there is a kosher way to
eat animals, and a kosher way to sacrifice them. There is much written
about the concept of the spiritual power of what we cons...
|A 21st Century Formula to Improve Shul|
16 April, 2009
After this three-day Passover yomtov, I began to think about the twelve hours I spent at shul services. It was a long haul, reminiscent of Rosh Hashana. I got to thinking: Need it be so much? I
|Tzav – Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor|
3 April, 2009
1. Why is there an everlasting flame on the sacrificial altar? It is a
flame to recognize that, even if the “office hours” of the Temple were
during daylight, the visual symbol of atonement is...
|PARSHAS VAYIKRA –Many Lessons from the Altar|
27 March, 2009
Short random thoughts on the Torah portion:
1. No sacrifice must be without salt. In a combination of honouring the
miracle of the two manna on the Sabbath, as well as the holiness of the
|Veyakhel-Pekudei - A different kind of home improvement|
20 March, 2009
In these weeks leading up to Passover, Jews around the world spend a
great deal of time cleaning out their homes. It is not only so that we
can be rid of chametz; so much as a speck in our pos...
|Union boycotts Israel|
17 March, 2009
Resolution supporters "extremist": Kenney.
largest public sector union, CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees)
Ontario, has passed a controversial resoluti...
|Conference examines trends in anti-Semitism|
17 March, 2009
from countries around the world tells of growing anti-Semitism. From
Holocaust-denying bishops to Canadian union boycotts of Israel to the
usual tirades from Middle East dictators, hatred of J...
|KI TISA – Holy Cow, Take Two Tablets, and Have a Listen|
13 March, 2009
Impatient for Moses to descend from
Mount Sinai, the Israelites took their gold earrings to
melt into a calf, which they danced around and worshiped.
Rabbi Isaac of Slonim brings in an
|Tetzaveh - Where In the Parsha is Moses?|
6 March, 2009
Curiously, this is the only parsha in Exodus that does not include
Moshe. The Sages teach us this can be traced to the sin of the Golden
Calf, foreshadowed to the next parsha, when God told Mo...
|TERUMAH – The Temple: what’s between our ears, and The Holy Centre|
2 March, 2009
We tend to enjoy gifts when the giver has given us something we like. This also applies to the giver, who tends to enjoy giving when they know the receiver will like the gift. It is one reason w...
|Mishpatim - Hearing is Believing|
21 February, 2009
The punishments for breaking the Ten Commandments are outlined in
Mishpatim. Most of the big ten, if found to be intentionally violated,
are punishable by death (in the times of the Temple). T...
|Yitro: Ten Comments on the Ten Commandments|
14 February, 2009
The Ten Commandments and ten micro commentaries.
1. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery…”
The first Commandment is to recognize ...
|BeShalach – The Miracle Bridge|
7 February, 2009
No question, the most outstanding part of this parsha is the Reed Sea
splitting, and the pursuing Egyptian army swallowed up by the closing
walls of water. Soon after, God provides daily ratio...
|Bo – On invasion of privacy, the Stockholm Syndrome, and new Laws|
31 January, 2009
Gershom ben Judah (960 –1040), Rashi’s mentor, was someone who was so
infuriated by invasion of privacy issues, he handed down a ruling for
his community that reading a another’s mail w...
|Vayera – On Poker, Pharaoh, Palindromes and Gremlins|
24 January, 2009
In a poker game, there are times when a player realizes he
holds a lousy hand, but either through pride, thrill addiction, or vain hope,
he keeps gambling money on his hand. Rather tha...
|Shmot: Pointless Pain versus Purposeful Pain|
16 January, 2009
The beginning of the book of
Exodus tells of the land of Egypt filling
with the descendants of Joseph and Jacob. A new Pharaoh takes over, and fears
the Jews’ increasing numbers, who he b...
|Vayechi – Looking at Your Zits in the Mirror|
9 January, 2009
A window washer stood on the
sidewalk on a windy day, a cloth in one hand, and a chemical cleaner spray in
the other. Standing arms length from the building, at eye level he sprayed the
|Vayigash – What’s Said is As Important As What’s Not Said|
2 January, 2009
There was a seventeen foot tall
tree that grew near the apartment building I lived in when I was young, that
stood near the local children’s’ popular play area. It was said to be the v...
|Miketz – Indeed, a Time for Light and Reflection|
27 December, 2008
I have often maintained that the pain of indifference is one of the
worst, if not the worst, kind of pain a person can experience. An example of
this is the time I befriended a homeless man wh...
|Vayeshev: Eight Behavioural Paths to Good Character|
20 December, 2008
A propos for the day before erev-Chanukah, I
have come up with eight ethical lessons – each for a night of Chanukah - from
1. While every child has
different and unique ne...
|Vayishlach – Choosing between a heel, and heaven|
13 December, 2008
When is a fight necessary, and when it is right to avoid a
fight and pursue peace?
There are three battles in this
parsha: There’s a war of vengeance with Shechem, a human/angel battle ...
|Vayeitzei – Veils of Deceit|
6 December, 2008
Dateline: Canaan. With wire services.
Jacob’s cautionary tale, befitting of a s...
|Toldot – Earning and Selling Spiritual Greatness|
30 November, 2008
This parsha includes the
famous story of Yaakov finagling his brother’s birthright, and receiving the
blessing from his father Yitzchak. Esav “sold” Yaakov his birthright for a bowl
| CHAYEI SARAH – It’s the Little Acts That Get Attention|
21 November, 2008
happens to be my bar mitzvah portion, and by sheer coincidence, speaks of the
life and d...
| Parshat Vayeira - The Art of Negotiation|
14 November, 2008
Zodom and Aemorah and the five
surrounding cities are about to be destroyed due to their terribly evil
inhabitants. This is 400 years after the Great Flood, also brought on by a
|Lech Lecha – An Obligation to Help Others See Goodness|
10 November, 2008
If you saw
someone doing something unethical, immoral or illegal, would you take the time
to point it out or try to s...
|Noach - Rainbow Warrior?|
31 October, 2008
It is rather peculiar that Noach means “comfort.”
It’s hardly comforting that tens of thousands of people were drowned in a
flood. Perhaps it is of some comfort to know that God was le...
|Bereishiet - We are Abel To Improve|
29 October, 2008
There’s so much to the opening of the Torah that whole books have been
written on the basic themes of Creation, the first man and woman, the first
sin, and the first murder.
|V’Zot Haberacha – United Flight 10 & 3 To Israel|
28 October, 2008
The Torah explains why Moses could not enter the land, because he
“broke faith” at the waters of Meribath-kadesh, in front of the Children of
Israel. The phrase the passage begins with...
|Haazinu – Justice and Revenge|
10 October, 2008
Fresh off of Yom Kippur, this parsha is a poetic recap of how God has
created the world, is angered by sin, yet giving and benevolent even to
those who go astray.
God has many attributes, b...
|Are Government sent Rosh Hashanah cards “offensive”?|
3 October, 2008
Each year for the past few years
the Conservatives have sent out Jewish New Years cards to tens of thousands of
Jewish homes in Canada.
And for years some Jews have felt ...
|Don’t boycott the election because of Sukkot|
2 October, 2008
Many observant Jews have voiced objection
against the choice of the federal election date, Oct. 14, the first day of
Sukkot. Some have reported plans to stay home in protest, or they p...
|Netzavim - Healing Words|
27 September, 2008
An interesting parable from the Hasidic masters on recognizing
another’s point of view: There was a dialogue between a rabbi and his
pupil. When his pupil says to the rebbe, “Rebbe, I love you...
|Ki Tavo - The Heart Is Not So Smart|
19 September, 2008
A few outstanding imperatives in this parsha: do not take advantage of
the orphan or widow; do not strike a person stealthily; have fair
weights and measures; and don’t move your neighbor’s fe...
|Parsha Ki Teitzei- RANDOM THOUGHTS|
14 September, 2008
1. This parsha has the most number of mitzvot of any parsha – 74. “Aed”
(witness) and its backward spelled “Da” (know) were discussed in the
last parsha. The numerical value of those words is ...
|SHOFTIM: Righteousness Shall You Pursue|
5 September, 2008
Being meticulous, fair, and ethical in judgement is so important that
this parsha, called “Judges,” outlines that we are to appoint judges in
every city, and never to pervert justice, such as with b...
|PARSHAT RE’EH: No Tax Deductible Receipt for Doing What is Just|
29 August, 2008
The parsha explains the responsibility to give to the poor, and
to lend them money if necessary, even if the shmitah year – the
seventh-year cycle, when debts are cancelled – is approaching...
|EIKEV INSIGHTS: The Road To Heel Is Paved With Good Intentions|
23 August, 2008
Why are we obsessed with noise pollution, air pollution and water pollution, but almost never think about soul pollution? Eikev has us think about the commandments, and the p...
|Parshat V’etchanan: God is 1, and the Big 10|
15 August, 2008
In the beginning of the parsha, Moshe prays to God to ask him to
reconsider letting him through to the Promised Land. God said no. It
hardly seems fair. The holiest man of that generation, and the g...
|Parshat Devarim: Words, And How Best to Use Them|
8 August, 2008
After reading this parsha, I am reminded of the greatest advice for
offering criticism I have ever read: “A man convinced against his will,
will be of the same opinion still.” Dale Carnegie wr...
|Parshat Massei: Land of Reward and Punishment|
2 August, 2008
God pre-emptively avoids challenges over property, and possible civil
war, by discussing the boundaries of Israel, how the land is divided
among the tribes, and the cities of refuge. He also c...
|Parshat Matot: INSIGHTS|
25 July, 2008
This parsha discusses the laws of verbal vows and how important it is
to mean what you say, and keep your word. A person’s word means
everything. A betrayal of one’s word is a betrayal of one’s hono...
|Insights on Parshat Pinchas|
18 July, 2008
We are often taught as children that being unkind is wrong. And for
good reason: the simpler the morals that are imparted on our children,
the better they understand. However, many carry that ...
|THOUGHTS ON PARSHAT BALAK|
12 July, 2008
This parsha picks up where the last one leaves off. Balak, king of
Moab, saw that a mighty Israel had defended themselves against invading
Amorites. Out of reasonable political and national se...
|Thoughts on Parshat Chukat|
4 July, 2008
There are a number of vignettes in this week’s parsha that are
seemingly unrelated: The Red Heifer, Miriam and Aaron dying, Moshe
hitting the rock, and the Israelites trying to pass through ci...
|Insights on Parshat Korach: Dedicated to Bracha|
27 June, 2008
The Torah is full of stories where there is a rightful dispute over
something unjust. Abraham argues with God to not entirely destroy Sdom
and Amorah, lest there be good people killed. Joseph’s brot...
|Thoughts on Parsha Shelach: Dedicated to my daughter, Bracha|
21 June, 2008
Shelach, meaning “to send,” is the story of the ten spies who were sent
to inspect the Land of Israel, and came back with a report to the
Children of Israel. Eight of them spoke badly about th...
|What does ‘honour’ entail?|
13 April, 2008
A 41-year-old man kills his three young children in a hotel. A mother and father beat their children on the head with hammers. These
two recent events, truly abhorrent as they are, have unfortu...
|Seeking Advice: The December Dilemma|
7 December, 2007
This time of year, interfaith couples often struggle to find balance
in celebrating the holidays. A recent article in the New York Times
discusses conflicts that arise over rituals, decoration...
|When Dog and God Collide|
17 August, 2007
In this story from the Vancouver Sun, a blind man with a seeing-eye dog was refused service by a Muslim cab driver. http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/story.html?id=16fb2403-8ff3-4f68-907a-01ce...
|When Godlessness is in the Details|
21 March, 2007
When Canadian Leaders Sound Like Iran's
The National Post reported last December that head leaders in the Liberal party think the Prime Minister acts like a Nazi. Bill Graham, the Liberals'
|Thought Radio - Interview with Dennis Prager|
16 March, 2007
Scandals and celebrities may be the lead items on the news, but it is more important for Dennis Prager to talk about values. For him, there’s more to current events than the events themselves. There a...
|You got Lacoste and Polo? Now try Kosher|
9 February, 2007
Put that Kabbalah bracelet aside. There's a new way to wear your Jewish identity on your sleeve.
Sure, Jewish clothing has often been secularized - like a Spiderman kippah.
But now secular clothing ...
|The 21st Century Bar Mitzvah: Gaudy or Godly?|
9 February, 2007
The "right" way to have a Bar Mitzvah, according to most rabbinical authorities, is after the Jewish boy turns thirteen, he reads his Torah portion and has a celebratory meal. The rest, as they say, i...
|Nourishing our souls|
26 January, 2007
Esther Jungreis thinks teshuvah is the answer
Over the course of four decades, Esther Jungreis has made a name for herself as an outreach worker at Hineni in Manhattan, a matchmaker, ersatz counsello...
|Do you confirm your Judaism?|
18 December, 2006
A year after the Holocaust, the number of Jews in the world were about 12 million. The number sixty years later has essentially flatlined: In 2006, the sum total is the same. What will the Jewis...