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Dvar Torah

The Answer to Bertrand Russell

The Answer to Bertrand Russell

Many years ago, the Nobel Prize winner, mathematician, and thinker, Bertrand Russell, was interviewed by Look Magazine. The topic of the interview was Russell’s well-known position on agnosticism to which he lent his enormous intellectual powers to support. After many questions, Russell was finally asked, “What kind of evidence would convince you that God exists?” This week’s Torah portion, Ve’etchanan, records the event that provides evidence that would even satisfy Russell.

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Playbook of the Haters of Israel, Then and Now

In his great wisdom, King Solomon stated in the beginning of Ecclesiastes “There is nothing new beneath the sun.” Since human nature does not change over time, the way modern man deals with current events is no different from how past generations handled the events of their time.

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An Important Lesson From Balak

An Important Lesson From Balak

This week’s Torah portion, Balak, records another formative event that took place toward the end of the Israelites’ 40-year stay in the desert. The Torah reading begins by introducing us to Balak, the king of the neighboring country of Moav. The narrative relates, “Balak became terrified and disgusted because of the Jewish nation.” (Bamidbar 22:3). This poses two questions: Why was Balak afraid of the Israelites and why was he disgusted by them?

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The Righteousness of Miriam

One of the challenges to learning Chumash is the style of the text. Events are mentioned in a terse way. Often time is condensed leaving us with the impression that the recorded events happened one right after the other. This week’s Torah portion, Chukat, contains this kind of structure. The event is the death of Miriam, Aharon and Moshe’s older sister.

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A Schoolboy’s Joy When School Is Over

A Schoolboy’s Joy When School Is Over

In this week’s Torah reading, Parashat Beha’alotcha, we come across an oddity in the actual Torah script. Two verses are bracketed by an inverted and backward Hebrew letter נ, “nun.” (Bamidbar 10:35-36). The Oral Law, Talmud Shabbat, 116a discusses this issue. “These brackets indicate that this section is in the wrong (contextual) place. Where does it belong?

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