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Faith and Ethics

He Released the Nations

In this week’s Torah portion, humanity makes a covenant promising to observe Seven Mitzvot. However, surprisingly, this covenant is not kept. The following appears in the Talmud: “Rav Yosef said: ‘He stood and measured the earth, and He released the nations’ [Habakkuk 3:6]. What did He see? He saw that the Bnei Noach did not observe the Seven Mitzvot which ... Read More »

The Beginning, the Middle, and the End

Why did our tradition choose the Song of David (Samuel II 22:1-51) as the Haftarah of the Torah portion of Ha’azinu, which contains the epic exalted poem written by Moses? For the portion of Beshalach, which includes the epic poem of the Children of Israel at the Red Sea celebrating the victory over the Egyptian army, the Song of Deborah ... Read More »

The Essence of Existence

The Prophet Isaiah turns to the community of Israel with consolation: “Be happy, barren woman who did not give birth” [54:1]. Who is this person to whom the prophet turns? Is there a personality that stands alone, which has a dialogue with the Creator? The answer is that it is the entire nation, throughout all the generations, which is viewed ... Read More »

An Eternal Covenant

This week’s Haftarah describes the stages of the consolation of Zion in a very clear way (Isaiah 54:11-55:5). Zion is depicted as a poor woman with a tempestuous soul who will not be consoled until all the goals of redemption have been achieved. The consolation takes place gradually, corresponding in a remarkable way to the events of our era: – ... Read More »

Don’t Be Afraid

What is the meaning of the double consolation in the opening verse of the Haftarah, “Be consoled, be consoled, My nation” [Isaiah 40:1]? It is true that Zion “has been given double for all her sins” [40:2], and therefore it is due for double consolation. But what does this mean? It would seem that the answer to this question can ... Read More »

“Hear the Word of G-d” [Jeremiah 2:4]

The Maharal explains that the destruction of the Temple cannot be blamed on sins of the people, because the destruction and the exile is a “momentous matter,” and such momentous occurrences do not depend on random events. (Netzach Yisrael, Chapter 2). Sin has a random quality as part of reality, since the very nature of mankind in general and of ... Read More »

The Ethics of the Prophets

Bible critics insist that the prophets guided the people of their generation about moral principles only and were not interested in religious rituals. Their proof, as is quoted by Rabbi Yehuda Halevi in the Kuzari (Volume 2, 47), is from a verse in this week’s Haftara: “Does G-d want to be appeased by thousands of rams, by tens of thousands ... Read More »

Parallel universes….

fantasy cosmos background, spiral galaxy

A year ago Thomas Friedman suggested that we solve the Israeli Palestinian conflict by placing NATO forces as the doorman of the Palestinian state. This suggestion is not of his own making, but that of Mahmoud Abaas, the acting governor of the civic affairs of the Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria. According to Thomas Friedman this is a reasonable ... Read More »

Is it Good to Have a King?

In the Haftorah for this week, Samuel tries to strengthen the status of the King. “And Samuel said to the people, Let us go to Gilgal, where we will renew the kingdom.” [Samuel I 11:14]. It seems that Samuel has resigned himself to accept the will of the nation to appoint a king as their head, in spite of his ... Read More »

Testimony for all of Humanity

This week’s Haftarah begins with the return of the Shechina – the holy Presence – to Zion and with the significance of this process for mankind: “Sing and be happy, daughter of Zion, for I am coming, and I will dwell within you – this is what G-d says. And many nations will join together with G-d on that day.” ... Read More »