Devotionals

The Hebrew month of Shevat, in which we celebrate the festival of the trees, always falls in the winter season. How strange to celebrate bare, frost-covered trees at this frigid time of year! Yet during the month of Shevat, deep within the bare tree, new life is awakening, and the sap of the tree begins… Read more »

Did you know that in Jewish tradition, we place small rocks in lieu of flowers on a new grave? The reason for this is because flowers die, while stones are eternal and represent the lasting soul. Stones are also for building, and show our determination to rebuild after tragedy strikes.

This verse comparing the Children of Israel to the “stars in the heavens” is not meant to be taken literally, for the Jewish people are far from the largest religion or people in the world. Our Sages explain that the comparison to the stars refers to the permanence of the heavenly bodies. As the stars… Read more »

The popular name Elana (also Ilana or Alana) has its ‘roots’ in a Hebrew word for tree אִילָנָה. It is an appropriate name for those born in January because of the Holiday of Tu B’Shvat, the new year of the trees. Elana is a woman who stands tall and proud, with her feet planted firmly… Read more »

How exciting to see Zechariah’s vision being fulfilled in our own generation! After 2,000 years of desolation, the streets of Jerusalem are alive again and “filled with boys and girls playing,” exactly as foreseen by our prophets.

The Biblical portion of Exodus 18-20 is called Parshat Yitro/Jethro, and it describes the greatest event of human history, when God revealed Himself to man through His giving of the Ten Commandments. Rabbinic commentators point out that Jethro is singled out and rewarded by having this special reading eternally connected with his name because he… Read more »

The Biblical portion of Exodus 18-20 is called Parshat Yitro/Jethro, and it describes the greatest event of human history, when God revealed Himself to man through His giving of the Ten Commandments. Rabbinic commentators point out that Jethro is singled out and rewarded by having this special reading eternally connected with his name because he… Read more »

Listen to this beautiful insight into today’s verse from Rashi, a 13th c. Torah commentator. He says that the jewelry is a metaphor for God’s commandments: “I adorned you with the adornment of the words of the Torah, written on the two stone tablets.” The Hebrew word for bracelets צְמִידִים comes from צמד, tze-med which… Read more »

In the Bible there are three who were described as “old and advanced in years” – Abraham, Joshua and David. All their days were filled with righteousness and old age was their crown of glory. Though King David did not age without suffering, he ruled the nation of Israel until his last days, never failing… Read more »

Grapes play a prominent role in Judaism as we begin our Shabbat meals and other rituals with a blessing over a cup of wine. The honored fruit can also teach us a vital life lesson answering an age old dilemma faced by religious thinkers, of how bad things can happen to good people. Just like… Read more »

The opening of Genesis outlines God’s intimate involvement with the natural world and describes the Almighty proudly looking upon His handiwork and declaring, “v’hine tov meod” – “and behold, it was very good.” Man is created and is immediately charged with caring for creation, as an “oved,” a worker who builds and crafts, as well… Read more »

The Children of Israel were fed manna from heaven the entire forty years they wandered in the desert up until they were literally in sight of the Promised Land. The Jews then, went from being directly sustained by the manna to being sustained by the bountiful produce of the Land of Israel. R’ Samson Raphael… Read more »

The Jewish people are not questioning their faith in God. Rather they are wondering to what extent God is involved in their everyday lives. This question was a natural outgrowth of the presiding worldview regarding God’s interaction with Man. In Egypt, and civilization in general, God and nature were viewed as static, with unchanging rules… Read more »

In Judaism, the mitzvah of honoring the dead is called the “khesed shel emet,” the truest kindness, simply because the recipient has no way of repaying the kindness. With no repayment in sight, the deed of caring for the dignity and burial of the deceased is completely altruistic.

All of God’s bounty is beneficial for us and there are many delicious foods that grow in the Land of Israel, yet the Creator of the world singled out seven species of fruit and grain as being particularly blessed (Deut. 8:8). Did you know that Israel’s Seven Species are not only delicious foods, but contain… Read more »