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Were We Wrong About Chabad?

For decades, Chabad’s want-to-wrap-tefillin legions made us feel uncomfortable. More bluntly, we mocked them. To be sure, that was only half of the picture. We openly admired Chabad’s mesiras nefesh, and their very real...

Matos-Mas’ei – The Final Word

Although Sefer Devarim is the final “book” of the Torah, in a sense, Sefer Bamidbar is. That is because, while Devarim includes many new laws and accounts, it also repeats some, and is thus...

Pinchas – Selfless Act, Boundless Portion?

Tzelafchad, according to one opinion, was the mekoshesh, or “wood gatherer,” who was executed for violating Shabbos. According to the Targum Yonasan (and a Midrash quoted by Tosfos in Bava Basra 119b), his act...

Chukas – Echoes of “The Snakey Thing”

It’s commonly, but erroneously, assumed that the symbol commonly used for the medical profession, a snake, or a pair of them, wrapped upon a pole, is meant as a depiction of the nachash hanechoshes...

Korach – Monkeys in the Crowd

The model for all subsequent demagogues in history, Korach told the people that his grievance was really their grievance, that he was standing up not for himself but for them. And he used snideness...

Shelach — Memento Mitzvah

It might seem peculiar, even morbid, to suggest that looking at tzitzis evokes the specter of death. But, at least for me, it does. That might be because of photographs I saw in a...

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