Posted on August 14th, 2017

Deuteronomy 11:26 - 16:17 

Rabbi David Fohrman is an internationally renowned lecturer on biblical themes and the principal educator at Aleph Beta Academy. 

Why Do We Need Both Oral and Written Law?

A video for Parashat Re'eh.

Why do the laws from the Rabbis end up looking so different than biblical laws? And even more so — what does law have to do with God and spirituality? What is the point of the legalism inherent in our religion? The video below argues that thought without action can wither away, and that law is about finding spirituality in the mundane.

Watch video.


Posted on August 7th, 2017

Deuteronomy 7:12 - 11:25 

Rabbi Avraham Fischer is a rabbi at Darche Noam Institutions.

Empowering Fear

Moses teaches the people that their achievement of true fear of God will allow them to not fear any enemy.

In preparing the Children of Israel for the conquest of the land of Canaan, Moshe anticipates the people’s trepidation, and he promises HaShem ’s ongoing support:

Perhaps you might say in your heart, “These nations are more numerous than I; how can I dispossess them?” You shall not be afraid (lo tira) of them. You shall surely remember that which HaShem, your God, did to Pharaoh and to all of Egypt: The great tests which your eyes saw, and the signs and the wonders, and the strong hand, and the outstretched arm whereby HaShem, your God, brought you out–so will HaShem, your God, do to all the nations before whom you are afraid (yarei). Furthermore, HaShem, your God, will release the hornet against them, until the destruction of those who are left and those who hide themselves before you. You shall not be intimidated/frightened (lo ta’arotz) before them, because (ki) Hashem, your God, is in your midst, a God Who is mighty and feared (nora) (Devarim 7:17-21).

Continue reading.

Shabbat Nachamu - Vaetchanan

Posted on July 31st, 2017

Deuteronomy 3:23 - 7:11 

BY RABBI DAVID FOHRMAN, the founder and CEO at Aleph Beta Academy

Seeing Layers in the Ten Commandments

A video for Parashat Vaetchanan

We’ve seen the text of the Ten Commandments so many times, but how does the Torah pack so much meaning into so few words? The video below shows us how the Torah layers meaning into the Ten Commandments, giving us a sample of the subtleties of the Torah.

Watch video. 

Shabbat Hazon - Devarim

Posted on July 24th, 2017

Deuteronomy 1:1 - 3:22 

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin is the author of "Jewish Literacy" and "Words that Hurt, Words that Heal," along with other widely-read books on Judaism

Perceptions Of Justice

People's perceptions of a society are often based on that society's judicial system.

If you were told you could give one last message to your descendants, what would you tell them?

That is the challenge that confronts Moses. The Jewish nation that he has forged and guided for forty years in the desert stands poised to enter the land of Canaan. But Moses knows that he will not be allowed to accompany them; he is destined to die in the desert. The entire book of Deuteronomy, starting with this portion, consists of his farewell message.

Continue reading.


Posted on July 17th, 2017

Numbers 30:2 - 36:13

Rabbi Asher Lopatin, president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School (YCT)

The Spiritual Trauma of Taking a Life

How the kosher practice of waiting between meat and dairy reminds us of Moses' discomfort with violence.

From war to terrorism to gun violence, the tragic deaths we see almost daily in the news sadly serve as background for this week’s portion, Matot-Masei. They also serve as a contemporary introduction to the traditional Nine Days of mourning, which start with the beginning of the month of Av. During the month of Av, Jerusalem was burned to the core in 70 CE, and half a century later the Romans created a bloodbath in the city of Beitar, the last stronghold of the rebellious Judean army led by Bar Kochba.

Our double portion this week, Matot-Masei, also talks about war and killing, but, rather than the Romans killing, it is Moses ordering the Israelites to kill, and, painfully, to kill more. In some of the most disturbing verses in the Torah, Moses gets angry with the Israelites for not killing enough of the Midianites, who tried to destroy the Israelites by ensnaring them in idolatry. He shouts: “You have allowed all the women to live! … So now I want you to kill every male child (the male adults were killed already) and every woman…” (Deuteronomy 31:15-17)

Continue reading.