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Parashat Balak: The Haftorah’s Message

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The closing words of today’s haftorah are among the most familiar in all of Tanach. The navi Micha’s statement that Hashem demands no more of you than: “…asot mishpat v’ahavat chesed v’hatz’ne’ah lechet im Elokecha,” “doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God,” is a cry well known even...

Understanding the Mandate of ‘Loving Thyself’

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In last month’s article, we observed the convergence of Torah precepts and psychological theories regarding the critical role “self-love” plays as a prerequisite for healthy psychic development and successful interpersonal relationships. We discussed the idea that from infancy through early childhood, the child experiences an age-appropriate form of “narcissism” as a first step in developing a healthy sense of self-love. Moreover, from a Torah perspective, self-love is seen as a prerequisite to “loving others.” In Parshat Sh’lach, we came face to face with one of the most egregious and mysterious sins of our nation. The “Nisi’im,” chosen because of their worthiness...

New Philistine Burial Site Will Answer Questions Plaguing Historians

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This past week, a team of archaeologists in Israel unearthed the first significant Philistine burial site. Toward the end of their 30-year excavation, they were shocked to discover the remains of more than 200 Philistines at the site of ancient Ashkelon. Although there have been countless Philistine artifacts uncovered over the years, only a few burial sites have been found, and none of this magnitude.

This finding will be critical in helping unravel the truth about this mysterious nation. For years, archeologists, historians and biblical scholars have been trying to uncover the full story of the Philistine people. From Avraham’s dealings with Avimelech, to Shimshon’s epic...

The Early Years of Yeshiva University

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My son Shaya just graduated from the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Yeshiva University. All of the graduates were given the book Bernard Revel: Builder of American Jewish Orthodoxy, by Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff. I would like to share some of what I learned from this fascinating book.

In our time we all imagine that a four-year college with secular studies and the ideals of Torah U-Madda were part of the initial vision for the institution. But what I learned from this book is that the truth is a bit more complex.

Our beloved institution started as a yeshiva for advanced Talmud study in 1896. Shortly thereafter, after the passing of the famous rabbi of Kovno, R. Isaac Elchanan...

To Each His Own…

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Every family has unique talents. There are families that have a knack for crafty things and you can see the whole mishpacha wearing matching, handmade, tie-dyed t-shirts with coordinating stone-washed jeans (or jean skirts). There are families that do cousin weekends; everyone gets together from near and far for one weekend in the summer. They exchange recipes and thoughts and dreams. It is a beautiful thing. Then, of course, there are the families that have nothing to do with each other, and that is their thing, but at least they have a thing so it’s all good.

Then there are those families that plan their lives around going to shul. For some reason, and I think that reason is that I...

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