Parshat Bo

v1One of the many memorable scenes in the movie masterpiece Il Postino portrays the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda demonstrating to his newfound postman disciple, before the crashing waves, the meaning of metaphors.

Part of the grandeur of Rabbi Sorotzkin’s Torah masterpiece is his poetic prowess, by which I mean, beyond his sonorous style, the insightful interspersion of metaphor with which he weaves his words.  I would call Sorotzkin–figuratively, of course–a masterly weaver of waves: sinuous, satisfying, sweeping.

Written by Rabbi Kamlet

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Parshat Va’aera

l1ABeing seventy is not a sin, declared Golda Meir in 1971.  The same septuagenarian remarked, a lustrum later:@ I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.  The great prime minister died at 80.

In our portion, we are informed of the two liberating leaders who began in their octogenarian Aprime to minister to the Jewish people: And Moses was eighty years old and Aaron was eighty-three years old when they spoke to Pharaoh (7:7).  Why the emphasis on age?

Written by Rabbi Kamlet

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Parshat Shemot

pvyWe read in today’s parsha (2:13) of Moses peripatetic encounter with two feuding Jews, one of whom is rebuked for almost striking the other.  Why Aalmost?  Before we examine the hermeneutics here (rabbinic interpretation of the Bible), let’s take a glance at the societal stance.

Traditionally, Jews have had a bent for brains over brawn, a tendency toward knowledge over knuckles (Jew-jitsu?).  As Jackie Mason incomparably encapsulated it (in The World According to Me!):  AIn this country, Jews don’t fight.  I don’t know if you noticed that.  In this country, they almost fight.  Every Jew I know almost killed somebody….

Written by Rabbi Kamlet

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Parshas Vayechi

vayechiA brace of questions this week, concerning events leading up to and following Jacob’s demise in contrast to other decedents’ antecedents and aftermaths.

We read (48:1) that when Joseph was informed that his father was ill he takes his sons to be blessed before Jacob expires. The rabbis tell us that Jacob was the first to experience illness before death; he requested it so that a person would know when to give his children a final exhortation. Why, asks Rabbi Sorotzkin, was this change not initiated by Abraham or Isaac, Jacob’s forebears?

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Parshat Vayigash

pv1Within Rabbi Sorotzkin’s entrancing Torah trove, there are a few pearls that are pricelessly paradigmatic. One such is his concluding comment on the first verse of chapter 46 of our portion. (Distressingly, yet typically, this remark is deleted –along with 4 other interpretations by Sorotzkin here–by the ArtScroll-approved translator of Insights in the Torah!)

The Mishna (at the beginning of Pirkei Avot) famously affirms that the world is upheld by three pillars: (Torah study), (prayer or sacrificial service), (acts of kindness), a tripartite division that was, as we shall see, a vital foundation of Jacob;s world, too.

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Blood drive

Blood Drive – Sunday
8:45am – 2:45pm


someone in the United States needs blood. That’s a lot of blood. 
But only 5% of the eligible US population donates blood. Healthy donors are the only source of blood. 
 Currently there is no substitute.

Parshat Miketz

miWhen Calvin Coolidge returned from church one Sunday, his wife asked him what the sermon concerned.  ASin, the taciturn Coolidge coolly replied.  AAnd what did he say? his wife prodded.  AHe was against it.

Substitute Aconfession for Asin and Afor Aagainst (and, of course, shul for church) and you have the Torah=s take on post-sin propriety.  Here is the contrite confession uttered by the far-from-taciturn brothers of Joseph for having cruelly cast him into a pit and sold him (19 Hebrew words I memorized as a 6th grader and still know by heart): A….Indeed we are guilty concerning our brother, inasmuch as we saw his heartfelt anguish when he pleaded with us, but we paid him no heed.  That is why this distress has come upon us (42:21).

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Parshat Vayeshev

v11How do we praise someone who’s less than pristinely praiseworthy, whose defects can’t readily be dismissed?

We are familiar with the phrase Ato damn with faint praise. Well, the Torah would have us reverse that formula: the plus should be explicitly revealed; the minus, implicitly concealed. Rabbi Sorotzkin teaches us this important rule in interpersonal conduct from our own parsha=s depiction of an inanimate object!

Sorotzkin cites (as does Rashi) what the Talmud says about the Torah’s characterization of the pit into which Joseph was hurled by most of his brothers: A….and the pit was empty; no water was in it (37:24).

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Parashat Vayishlach

pvyBy what mandate did Shimon and Levi decimate the city of Shechem and indiscriminately kill all its males in retaliation for its namesake prince=s violation of their sister, Dinah, as depicted in chapter 34 of today’s parsha?

Much exegetical ink has been spilled on the topic of the polemical blood that was spilled in this attack on Ainnocent inhabitants.  The main commentary-combatants here are the Rambam (failure to set up courts of justice and judge transgressors) and the Ramban (general abominable and immoral behavior) who variously vindicate the execution of both perpetrator and populace.

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