Many Jews visit the grave of Rashbi on Lag BaOmer, but the real point of this occasion is to attach oneself to this righteous sage through his teachings. The sages thus say, “We do not make gravestones for the righteous; their words are their memory.”
: When David ben Gurion announced the establishment of the state, was he acting realistically? We were but a nation of tattered refugees gathered together from the four corners of the earth, surrounded by millions of Arabs with imposing armies.
We are responsible for providing new, novel understandings of the Torah every day in accordance with the changing times. “Each day they shall be as new in your eyes,” and by virtue of this innovation “God renews the act of creation on a daily basis.”
Despite the apparent disparities between the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur on the one hand and the Sukkot festival - known as “the time of our joy” - on the other, the holidays of Tishrei in fact live quite at peace with one another.
Our holy books note an allusion to the month of Elul in the Hebrew acronym of the verse “I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine” (Song of Songs 6:3). From here we can learn a number of ideas regarding the nature of Elul's unique divine worship.
On each of the seven Sabbaths following Tisha B'Av and leading to Rosh HaShanah we read prophecies of comfort. Yet, what is the purpose of such consolation if the Holy Temple is still absent and the people of Israel continue to suffer great affliction?
The Day of Atonement focuses on repentance between man and God, atoning for the Sin of the Golden Calf which effected man's relation to God. The 15th of Av aims at worldly redemption, atoning for the Sin of the Spies who disavowed the land of Israel.
The Torah refers to Jerusalem as “the place which God shall choose,” but does not inform us as to where this place is or what its name is. By concealing the Holy City from us and forcing us to seek her out, God aimed at endearing Jerusalem to us.
Thanking God for the miracles which He performs for us and recognizing the good which He has bestowed upon us, lies at the very foundation of our redemption. Therefore, even today, if we want God's works of salvation to continue, we must thank Him.
The Sages say that the Almighty suspended Mount Sinai above the Israelites like an inverted cask and said, “If you accept the Torah, fine; if not, here will be your grave.” Why did God have to coerce the Children of Israel into receiving the Torah?
The sages instituted the lighting of Chanukah candles because it “takes us back” to the site of the miracle. We are therefore called upon to sense that our kindling of these candles is tantamount to the lighting of the menorah in the Holy Temple.
Why did R' Akiva alone laugh? Certainly he was not the only one of the sages to believe in the future redemption. What's more, when the Temple sits in ruins one must mourn the situation even if something good is bound to come out of it in the future.
Purim serves as an example of what things will be like in the Messianic Age, for, in the time of Purim, the Jews merited seeing the light amidst the darkness, a situation which recalls the verse, “Though I sit in darkness, God is a light for me.”
Moses, who dared to request that God change His "Attribute of Judgement" to the "Attribute of Mercy," merited having God change the ways of nature in response to his prayers, and the decree of exile was thus nullified before the appointed time.
Our Torah portion this week tells of Jacob's marriage with the matriarchs Rachel and Leah. From it, we learn the degree of difficulty involved in arranging these nuptials. The whole ordeal appears nearly as difficult at the splitting of the Red Sea.
This week’s Torah portion describes at great length the war between the four and five kings, detailing their names and lands. Yet, what is so important about this particular battle that caused the Torah to describe it in such detail?
The half-shekel hints at the fact that every human being is half empty, and is able to attain completeness only after joining forces with another. Furthermore, it is impossible for the Jewish people to attain unity without being connected to God.
The purpose of "darkness" is to present man with a challenge - the challenge of strengthening his faith and uncovering God's presence. Because Joseph faced the trials of faith and stood up to them all, he merited the light of redemption.