B"H Thursday, 24 Sivan 5779 | June 27 2019
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 Lech-Lecha: Food for Thought 
Sunday: Self Discovery

Abraham could not truly discover his true nature till he divested himself from all outside influence. Till G-d instructed him to, "Go to you, from your land, your birthplace and your father's home."

We are largely influenced by three factors. The atmosphere and climate into which we are born. The culture and attitudes of the friends that surround us. The family that loves us. As long as we remain under the influence of our original culture, friends and family, we cannot know how we might respond under different circumstances. Once we strike out on our own, we discover our true nature.

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 Sukkot: Inside Outside 
Rabbi Lazar Gorkow
Rabbi Lazar Gorkow

In his book, “Inside Outside,” Herman Woulk describes the struggle of living a Jewish life in a non Jewish society. It is a masterful description of living by one set of values at home and encountering a different one on the street. (1)

Every Jew in the diaspora identifies with this dichotomy. I feel it every Shabbat when I walk outside. To me, Shabbat is a sacred day. To my neighbors its just another weekend. On Yom Kippur, the day of atonement and inspiration, the contrast is most stark. In the Synagogue the day pulses with religious fervor. Outside, it is just another afternoon.

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 Ki Tavo: Serving G-d in A Selfish World 

Father and Son

After a long and agonizing separation, Jacob and Joseph were finally reunited at the ancient gates of Egypt. What did the loving father do at that moment? Did he embrace his son and release his pent-up tears? No, he recited the Shema, proclaiming his faith in G-d.

Caught in the grip of passionate emotion, Jacob, loyal servant of G-d, would not abandon G-d. He channeled the outpouring of his heart and the flow of his tears to his master above. Reunited, their hearts bound as one, father and son turned to G-d and welcomed him into their embrace. (1)

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 Eikev - The Deeper Bond 

Opposites attract. They say this is because life with a like-minded spouse is too agreeable and therefore boring. I say, really? Bring on the boredom. Please! I think that life with a like-minded spouse is much easier. With no quarrels about when to vacation, where to eat and how much money to spend, life would be a breeze. So we wouldn't spend as much time arguing. Nu, is that a problem? Yet despite their disagreements most quarrelsome couples remain committed to each other.

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 What would you rather, wisdom or wealth? 

What would you rather, wisdom or wealth? Sounds like a solomonic question, but our sages provided a road map. “If you seek wealth turn to the north and if you seek wisdom turn to the south.” But how exactly dos turning north or south provide wisdom or wealth? (1)

To give context to this sagacious advice one must bear in mind the layout of the ancient Jewish temple. The entrance to the temple was on the east end. Advancing westward through the temple one would arrive at the holy of holies, host to the holy ark and two tablets. The room just before the holy of holies was the sanctuary, host to a table on its north side and a candelabra on its south side.

The table held twelve loafs of showbread and the candelabra's seven branches were kindled nightly. The purpose of the showbread was to usher in a blessing for material sustenance. The purpose of the light was to usher in a blessing for wisdom and spiritual sustenance.

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 Mishpatim: A Prosaic Portion 
The memory of the Ten Commandments at Sinai is stamped into the collective psyche of the Jewish people. It was the piece de resistance of spiritual achievement. A transcendental moment; our souls luxuriated in the presence of the divine, freed from the shackles of vanity and materialism. It is ...
 Why be Jewish? 
As a rabbi I am often asked why it is important to be Jewish. A plethora of answers are offered, but only one is intellectually honest.
 Shoftim: Dying for Life 
The parent who died to save the child would have died in vain had the other parent not remained alive to raise him.
 Shlach: Kosher for an hour 
Why does Rashi specify that they were kosher for an hour?
 Shavuos: An Overview 
Shavuos is the holiday in which our ancestors received the Torah at Mt. Sinai.
 The Jewish Faith: Moshiach 
A Miraculous Time
 Change of Attire 
We all dress for success. We wouldn't wear a suit and tie to a tennis match nor would we wear a tennis outfit to a business meeting.
 Proud to be chosen 
We hide our cultural and religious origins in the deepest regions of our secret closets.
 The Menorah and Masada 
The Masada Fortress overlooking the Dead Sea in the Judean Desert
The Masada Fortress overlooking the Dead Sea in the Judean Desert
What drove them to commit suicide and defy the supreme Jewish commandment to cherish life? (Chabad.org)

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