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Gift for Our Generation

This week will mark a major historic milestone as Israel and Jews around the world celebrate the 70th anniversary of the creation of the modern Jewish state. For thousands of years, Jews around the world fantasized about the reality that exists today. Our liturgy is replete with the theme to return to Zion and Jerusalem. Every monumental event from the conclusion of the Pesach Seder to the newly married couple standing under the chuppah, the prayer to return to Jerusalem has been etched on the lips of our ancestor for generations. The prophecy in the Book of Zecharia that foretold that “Old men and women shall dwell in the streets of Jerusalem and that the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets”, has turned into reality. For the first time in two thousand years, there is a stronger presence than ever of Torah Study, Observance of Mitzvos and vibrant Jewish life. Not to mention all the modern advances in the area of science, healthcare and security innovations. The…

A Mitzvah To Remember

Every year on the Shabbos before Purim we read Parshas Zachor. The Torah commands us never to forget the evils of Amaleik and the atrocities it attempted to inflict upon the Jews as they departed from Egypt. It does seem a bit unusual to be commanded to remember an event. Isn't this event noteworthy in our story as a people that it wouldn't be forgotten, irrespective if there is a mitzvah to remember? One of the blessings of Jewish life for the last few decades particularly here in the United States has been the relative peace that we have been privileged to enjoy. As with many privileges and blessings in life, there is one glaring downside. That is the feeling of complacency that has crept into our lives. With complacency comes a tendency to forget some of the difficult memories of the past. We have been rudely reminded of that in recent times with the Polish Government outlawing any mention of Polish involvement in the Holocaust. It has been disturbing to watch some of the in…

A Pure Foundation

The first Jewish fundraising campaign is found in this weeks parsha. The Israelites are told to bring forward raw materials for the construction of the Mishkan/Tabernacle. With a Super Walmart or Home Depot that was not around the corner, where did they procure all the materials for the building of the Mishkan? The precious metals such as gold, silver, and copper were part of the spoils that came with them from Egypt. They were quite resourceful in securing all the rest of the materials that included the fine fabrics. There was one notable exception to this. The Atzei Shittim/Acacia Wood came from Israel. Rashi elaborates with the details. A couple of centuries prior to this event when Yaakov was relocating to Egypt from Israel, he made it his business for this wood to be transported to Egypt for the eventual construction of the Mishkan. It seems to be quite a lesson in advanced planning. Why was it necessary for Yaakov to shlep all this wood down to Egypt for an event two hundred yea…

Who's Contributing The Other Half ?

As we are on the cusp of the month of Adar, we once again read the parsha of Shekalim this Shabbos. This was the directive that G-d communicated to Moshe that Israelites contribute a half shekel for this national campaign. This campaign had a dual purpose. Firstly, the donated silver was ultimately melted and used for the construction of the mishkan/tabernacle. It  was also done for the purpose of the first national census. Instead of counting heads, we were told to contribute a half shekel coin. However many coins were counted was the amount of people that were accounted for in the census.
I have often wondered, why couldn’t everyone just contribute a shekel ? Was there any reason for the frugality here ? After all the proceeds went to the construction of the mishkan/tabernacle  and the more funds collected would just make this fundraising campaign that more successful ?
Upon reflection, the half shekel contribution does teach us a great lesson. It reflects the notion that although eac…

The Most Important Top Ten List

For some reason, the term “ Top 10” has become a defining way to communicate the most valuable moments. From Top Ten plays of the Super Bowl to Top Ten sports bloopers of all time, we frequently evaluate important events that way. In fact, the first “Top Ten” is recorded in this week's parsha of curse with the Ten Commandments. This is arguably the most important event in the history of mankind. This is the moment when G-d communicates His message of what it means to be a chosen people for a unique and chosen mission. This was not just delivered to one individual, prophet or rabbi. Rather this was a national experience that every man, woman and child heard on that fateful day at Mount Sinai. It all started with the deafening words “  I am the Lord your G-d who took you out of Egypt”. Many have wondered about the latter part of the verse which references the Exodus of Egypt. After all, is that isolated incident, the greatest accomplishment that G-d could come up with ? What about s…