Torah Columns
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I can still see his eyes and his twinkling smile as I walked him to the bus, with his rucksack over his back and a pair of ‘kafkafim’ (shower shoes) tied on and dangling from a piece of string. more
Parshat Ki Tzeitzi By Rabbi Avi Billet Issue of August 20, 2010/ 10 Elul 5770 The "controversial" cover photo on the Aug. 9 issue of Time featured the face of a young Afghani woman whose … more
Prince Charming doesn’t always find Cinderella, and stories do not always have ‘happy’ endings, as most of us learn the hard way. I remember once, after a harried chase, catching a masked Arab who had been heaving rocks and cinderblocks at an IDF position in Hebron. more
Very few stories in the Torah are more tragic than the story of Joseph and his brothers. It begins, seemingly, with an innocent gift, a demonstration of a father’s love for his beloved child. But when Yaakov bestows the magnificent striped coat on his son Joseph, the ten brothers aren’t so filled with love. Favoritism, jealousy, behaviors far from ideal are brewing, resulting in a moment of tragedy 4,000 years ago that the Jewish people are still struggling to undo. more
Once, in the midst of a class, I noticed a student’s eyes begin to water. We were having a discussion about identity, and how we tap in to who we really are. In tears, he explained how he had arrived at Isralight in Jerusalem. He had been a concert violinist with enormous potential, until in a tragic freak accident; he got his hand caught in a car door. After all the hospital care and operations, his hand was left partially paralyzed, and his career in music was over. And he realized, with panic, that he had no idea who he was any more. Whenever anyone would ask ‘what do you do?’ his response had always been: “I’m a violinist.” But that was no longer true. So who was he? more
The Torah is comprised primarily of laws and narrative. Let us take a quick scan of Parshat Terumah to see where it fits in the scheme of the rest of the Torah. According to the Sefer HaChinukh, … more
Opinion By Rabbi Avi Billet Issue of Feb. 13, 2009 / 19 Shevat 5769 Relative to other surgeries, bris milah is a simple procedure, with a surprisingly low risk rate. At the same time, an … more
A poignant Midrash in Ruth Rabba (5:6) argues that had Reuven, Aharon and Boaz known that certain minor kindnesses they performed would be recorded in the Bible for posterity, they might have done things differently. more
From his first introduction to us, most of the Torah depicts Moshe as the quintessential leader par excellence. The ultimate Jewish figure, he continues to hold that enigmatic quality that Jewish … more
During one of the classes I teach on weeknights, our topic turned to the different kinds of love mentioned in the Torah. One insightful participant commented that if G-d tells us to look out for … more
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