Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Noach - Spiritual hibernation

Why does the flood occur in the month of Cheshvan? Why does the 'atzeres' of Pesach occur fifty days later, whereas the 'atzeres' of Succos immediately follows the holiday? What is the contrast between Nissan/Spring and Tishrei/Winter? What is the spiritual approach for the coming months?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 21:09

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bereshis - Creation's resistance

Why does the Alef complain that the Torah began with a Beis? What is Hashem's consolation? Why does the moon complain? Why do the trees complain? Why does there seem to be so much resistance in Creation?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 21:09

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Why do we shake the lulav and esrog during hallel? Why do we only shake it at certain verses? Why do we stop shaking at Hashem's name? Why does the Torah stay in the center without moving during Hoshanos? Why don't we move at all on Shabbos? Why does the Torah enter into our circle on Shmini Atzeres/Simchas Torah?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 23:09

Friday, October 7, 2011

Yosef & Binyomin

Binyomin was the only tribe of the Jewish people that was born in Eretz Yisrael. He represented the completion of the Jewish people, as he was the twelfth of the twelve tribes. The number twelve always represent the completion, in the physical realm, as there are twelve edges to a three dimensional cube. As the Ramchal explains, Binyomin was the one who would serve to connect the aspect of Yosef and Yehudah, as we see in the story of the brothers, as well as in the persons of Mordechai and Esther.

It is interesting to note that while Binyomin was the only tribe to be born in Eretz Yisroel, Yosef's birth was the impetus for Yacov to return to Eretz Yisrael, as there was no longer a need to fear Esav (as per Rashi on the verse of Yosef's birth). The Ramchal says that Yosef includes Binyomin, as it says "יוסף לי בן אחר" - Rochel's name for Yosef included a prayer for another son, which was Binyomin. Thus, we could say that an aspect of Yosef was included in Binyomin, and vice versa. This would explain Yosef's special love for Eretz Yisroel that earned him the merit of being buried in Shechem, as well as the title עברי, Hebrew (as opposed to Moshe who was referred to as מצרי, Egyptian, and was not buried in Israel).

Yosef classically represents the aspect of Yesod, and it could be said that Binyomin, as the completion of the twelve tribes, also represents the aspect of malchus. These two aspects are always intertwined. This could also explain why the first king of the Jewish people was specifically chosen from the tribe of Binyomin. Binyomin is the aspect of malchus, and he is also the tribe born in Eretz Yisroel. The purpose of the king is to solidify the Jewish people's claim to the land of Israel, and to rid the world of the forces of evil, embodied in the nation of Amalek.

Book of Life

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

8 Tishrei

Thursday, 8 Tishrei, is the 70th yahrtzeit of one of the first massacres in the Holocaust. It occurred in Kiev, Ukraine, in a location called the Babi Yar ravine, where 33,771 Jews were slaughtered on the 8th and 9th of Tishrei in 1941 (5702). It is important to remember this tragedy which heralded the beginning of the 'Final Solution' of the Nazis ימח שמם. Wikipedia says that "the massacre would be the largest single mass killing for which the Nazi regime and its collaborators were responsible during its campaign against the Soviet Union and is considered to be 'the largest single massacre in the history of the Holocaust.'"

You can read more about this tragedy at the following link:

The 10th of Tishrei of that year was also significant, as it was the date of the opening of the first of the death camps, Majdanek.

May we see the avenging of the blood of those martyrs soon.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Haazinu & Yom Kippur - Transitions

Why is Moshe not buried in Eretz Yisrael? Why are his siblings Aharon and Miriam also not allowed to be buried in Israel? What is the concept of forty in this context? Why is Moshe Rabenu's grave impossible to access?

Find out in this week's Parsha Podcast.

Running time: 23:16

Return Again

I would like to share a podcast that I made about four years ago, called 'the gates of return.' It was a one episode podcast for no reason other than the fact it was a bit challenging to make. I recently had more than one request for another episode for the aseres yemei teshuva, so I offer a second episode here as well. It runs a little under fifteen minutes, and is a mix of music and inspiration.

I hope you enjoy.

Episode 1

Episode 2

Monday, October 3, 2011


Spirituality is not a "thing," not an object that can be identified as something one possesses. It is a process, a growth experience. Ironically, when someone thinks he has achieved spirituality, he has probably lost it. One has it only as long as one is striving for it. Because we can never quite achieve perfection, we are always capable of improving ourselves. As long as we continue to improve ourselves along the lines we have discussed, we are spiritual. If we lose the momentum for growth and become stagnant, baser human inclinations toward gratification and comfort are certain to arise and work against the spiritual life. In spirituality, the searching is the finding, and the pursuit is the achievement.

- Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski