Author: Avi Shafran

Parshas Yisro – The Barrel’s Secret

Our ancestors’ acceptance of the Torah was imperfect: It included an element of coercion. The Gemara (Shabbos 88a) teaches that “Hashem held the mountain over the Jews’ heads like a gigis (a barrel).” The...

Parshas Beshalach — Arms Race

The fundamental struggle of humanity, stripped of all of history’s dross, is between two views: The recognition of a Creator (and the resultant meaningfulness of human life) and the belief that life is the...

1

Parshas Bo – A Letter from Egypt

Chazal describe the Jewish people as a miracle. Our foremothers, for instance, were physically incapable, the Midrash informs us, of bearing children. Yet, despite the laws of nature, they did. Jewish history, no less,...

Parshas Va’eira – A Partnership of Opposites

Only one of the Ten Plagues visited upon Par’oh and Mitzrayim elicits a declaration of guilt and admission of Hashem’s righteousness from the Egyptian leader.“ This time I have sinned,” Par’oh admits. “Hashem is...

Pathetic Persecutors – parshas Shemos

As the Jewish population in ancient Egypt swelled, the Torah tells us that vayakutzu — The Egyptians “were disgusted” (Shemos 1:12).  Rashi explains that “they were disgusted with their [own] lives.” A superficial reading...

Parshas Vayechi – The Real Man in the Moon

In a good example of Talmudic humor, Rav Nachman reacted to Rav Yitzḥak’s recounting of what Rabi Yochanan said, that “Our patriarch Yaakov did not die,” with a wry question: “So was it for...

Parshas Vayigash – Being Pushed, Being Loved

One of the hardest of life’s lessons to learn, a truth born of challenges we all first encounter in childhood but that persist well beyond, is realizing that being shouldered with responsibility needn’t bespeak...

The Supreme Court Did Its Job

An opinion piece I wrote for NBC about recent Supreme Court rulings on religious gatherings can be read here. And, although I can’t post my weekly Ami column here, links to them can be...

Parshas Miketz — Lying Eyes

A botanist named Joseph Banks who was aboard Captain James Cook’s 1770 voyage recorded in his diary that while the 106-foot-long Endeavour sailed along the east coast of Australia, native fishermen totally ignored the...

Pin It on Pinterest