Behar 5774

DVAR TORAH: BELIEF AND DISBELIEF
by RABBI S.WEISS

Our Sedra of B’Har begins with the Mitzva of Shmita (which is fast approaching here in Israel!). Rashi asks why it is davka this Mitzva – of leaving the land untouched every seventh year – that is said to have been given on Mount Sinai. Rashi offers the cryptic answer: “Just as this commandment was said on Har Sinai, so ALL the Mitzvot emanate from there (as opposed to being man-made).”

Okay, fair enough. But I still don’t see why Shmita has to be the Mitzva that represents all the other Mitzvot. Why not choose kashrut, Shabbat, love the convert, etc? What is it exactly about Shmita that makes it so special?

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Metzora 5774

DVAR TORAH: THE LONELY MAN OF METZORA
by RABBI S. WEISS

Metzora is a lonely Sedra this Shabbat. Usually coupled with Tazria or Parshat HaChodesh, it is rarely left like this to fend for itself. But don’t feel too bad for it; the lonely Metzora may actually be the key to our Redemption!

The famous Gemara in Sanhedrin 98 depicts Moshiach as a Metzora, a tzara’at-stricken sufferer, who sits, all bandaged up, at the gates of Rome. There he faithfully waits – in each and every generation – until the Jewish People will finally unite as one nation under G-d and merit his coming.

Now, of all the different guises we might have guessed for Moshiach, this one is surely the strangest! Talmid chacham, nobleman, military hero or leader of men, THAT I would understand. But tzara’at victim? What is that all about?

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Tazria – HaChodesh 5774

DVAR TORAH: TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES
by RABBI S. WEISS

Talk about strange bedfellows! Our parsha of Tazria contains two seemingly opposite subjects: The birth of a child, & the disease of tzara’at, which renders a person spiritually impure. The first is a source of joy & blessing, the second a cause for grief & embarrassment.

So why are they put together in the same Sedra?!

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GONE WITH THE WIND

by RABBI STEWART WEISS

“I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

Scarlett O’Hara

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the epic film, Gone With the Wind. The grand, sweeping drama revolves around the spoiled daughter of a wealthy Southern plantation owner and her dashing beau Captain Rhett Butler, played out against the backdrop of the American Civil War. It captivated audiences worldwide and won numerous awards, including Oscars for best picture, best director, best actress and best supporting actress (to Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American ever to win an Academy Award). The film, the most successful in box-office history, is based on Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning best-seller published three years earlier. Gone With the Wind – the only book Mitchell would ever write ­ is considered by American readers to be the second favorite book, just behind the Bible, and has to date sold 30 million copies. The movie has been seen by hundreds of millions of people, graphically bringing home the trauma and tragedy of the War Between Brothers, the bloodiest conflict in the history of the United States.

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Shemini 5774

DVAR TORAH: SOMETIMES, MORE IS LESS

by RABBI S. WEISS

One of the most tragic – & mysterious – of all events in the entire Torah occurs in our Sedra:

Nadav & Avihu, Ahron’s oldest sons, offer “strange fire” as part of the incense offering, & they die.

Commentators offer a variety of different reasons for their death:

- They decided a law in front of their rabbis, Moshe & Ahron;

- They were intoxicated;

- They added a new offering to the Avoda othat had not been commanded to them;

- They added an extra ingredient to the Korban.

The fact that there are so many diverse opinions seems to indicate that no one really is sure exactly what went on here.

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