Greenberg Simi

AuthorSimi Greenberg

Yom Kippur: Personalized Repentance

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During the High Holidays we read the exhortations to repentance of the prophets Hosea, Isaiah, and Jonah. Are they all discussing the same repentance, or are there different types of repentance for different people?
An address about repentance and what type of repentance is right for me.

Shoftim: G-d’s Commando

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The tribe of Levi is G-d’s “special unit,” tasked with teaching G-d’s ways to the public. Did you know that nowadays this service isn’t restricted to those born into the tribe of Levi, and is open to volunteers?

Re’eh: Why is there poverty in the world?

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Poverty is humiliating, and creates social inequality. Why does poverty exist? Why doesn’t G-d give everyone their needs without them having to rely on others’ kindness? A class on the purpose of poverty and wealth, with life lessons for both the wealthy and poor.

Ekev: Why Did Moses Break the Tablets?

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What does the shattering of the tablets have to do with the death of the righteous? Did the letters fly off the stone before Moses broke them? An original perspective on the shattering of the tablets and its contemporary relevance.

V’eschanan: The Lesson of the Shema

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Every morning and evening we read two passages, shema and vehaya im shamoa. What are the different lessons of these two passages? And how does this relate to the critical question of who is responsible for educating our children - the school or the parents?

Devarim: The Right Time for Rebuke

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The Jewish people sinned many times during their years in the desert. But Moses chose a very specific time and method to rebuke them, teaching us an invaluable lesson regarding interpersonal relations.

Chukas: Moshe Hit the Rock. So What?

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The great leader who took the Jewish people out of Egypt, gave them the Ten Commandments, and led them to the entrance of the Promised Land, was punished to die in the desert just because he hit the rock. How is this fair?

Korach: Leaders Without Borders

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Sometimes going half-way isn’t enough. Whether as a person of faith, or a leader of others, one can’t selectively engage with just the enjoyable ideas or like-minded people. Otherwise, you’re left with nothing.

SHLACH: SOLVING FORGETFULNESS

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There is an old technique to help remember things: to tie a knot.
Jewish tradition says that Pharaoh’s ministers did so, and so did the sages of the Mishnah. Even today, Jews tie knots every day in order to remember.
Why does a knot prevent forgetfulness? And did G-d do so Himself?

Naso: To Be a Mensch

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The Torah gives us 613 commandments, and gives Seven Noahide Laws to society at large.
But one rule applies to everyone equally - and yet it was left unsaid: Be a mensch!

Acharei: What’s Between the Lines?

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The Talmud records a bizarre argument between the High Priest and the Chief Rabbis.
For generations, readers have been puzzled: Is that behavior befitting the most distinguished members of the Jewish people?
In 1986, the Rebbe explained it's deeper meaning.

Pesach: Security Measures

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The world around us is tumultuous and turbulent. Terrorism in Israel, the war in Europe and divisions in societies around the world evoke feelings of fear and anxiety. What can we do about it?

During the Plague of the Firstborn, blood on doorposts protected the Jews. What its modern day version?

Tazria: Lamplighters

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Who was responsible for streetlights in the olden days? What is the ultimate Jewish nail treatment? And how does it relate to being a Chassid?

Zachor: Arguing With Amalekites

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Haman, the “star” of Purim, is a descendant of the Amalekites, the focus of the Torah reading on the Shabbat preceding Purim.
Who are they? What do they signify? And how do we overcome them?

Purim: Purim According to Kabbalah

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How did Haman persuade King Achashverosh to annihilate the Jews? Why did G-d agree? And what was the turning point that changed the course of the story?
The Kabbalistic underpinnings of the Purim Story.

Pekudei: How Were the Pyramids Built?

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Elon Musk tweeted that aliens built them, the prevailing tradition is that the Israelites built them, and Egyptian scholars claim that Egyptians built them. But everyone is still amazed: how did they manage to move such heavy stones? And why couldn’t the Levites use the same technology in erecting the Tabernacle?

Ki Sisa: Jewish Hygiene

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The coronavirus raised awareness for proper hygiene. In fact, in the Tabernacle in the desert over three thousand years ago, the priest would wash his hands and feet before beginning the holy service.
What is spiritual hygiene? And why should the women be in charge?

Terumah: Atonement or Elevation?

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A massive fundraising campaign was kicked off after the Exodus to fund the construction of the Tabernacle.
When exactly did it take place? And why exactly was a Tabernacle necessary?

Mishpatim: Our Goal in Life

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Humans like to strive for perfection. However, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Chabad Rebbe, wrote an entire book about reaching the level of a ‘beinoni,’ commonly translated as ‘mediocre.’
What exactly did he mean?

Bo: The Public Declaration

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The Egyptians who revered cattle as deities, but they were remarkably tolerant of the Jewish tradition of eating meat. But when the Jews slaughtered the sheep for the Paschal offering, they went berserk. What happened?

Vayigash: Pay Attention

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Prophecies, omens, and science. What is the Jewish view?
Should we read into the random occurrences in our lives? Should we view scientific advances as questioning our faith? And, by the way — is it possible to jump to the moon?

Vayishlach: When Success Breeds Humility

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What causes people to be magnanimous? What’s the right way to handle success?
When the first Chabad Rebbe bested his opponents and achieved legitimacy for the new Chassidic movement, he wrote a letter to his followers which set their priorities straight.

Vayetzei: What Makes a Hero?

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The Zohar’s story about Abraham, Rashi’s story about Jacob, and the Rebbe’s story about Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. What do the stories have in common? And what was the common denominator which made them eternal Jewish heroes?

Toldot: Turning a New Leaf

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The Talmud states that three categories of people are absolved of all their sins: the newly married, the newly appointed leader, and the newly appointed ‘sage.’
Why? Is this absolution attainable for ordinary people?
Life-lessons from Esau, Rabbi Ze’irah, and Israel’s third president.

Chayei Sarah: The Admission Test

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Every new bride goes through an ‘admission test’ in her new family. In Abraham’s family, there was a very high bar. Rebecca was accepted into the family only when she managed to bring several miracles into her home: A Cloud of Glory, a growing dough, and a candle that wouldn’t go out. What do those miracles represent?

Noach: When Noah Didn’t Argue

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When G-d tells Noah that he plans to destroy humanity, Noah does not pound on the table and demand mercy. Why? Why didn't he act like Moses, who pounded on the table and prevented the Children of Israel from being punished?

A deeper reading will shed light on Noah's reasoning and teach us how to judge others.

Why a Leap Year?

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This coming year is going to be a Jewish Leap Year. How do these leap years work? Why are they instituted? And what does it say about the Jews?
An astrological journey in the heavens, its impact on the Jewish calendar, and the Jewish soul.

Ki Teitze: Judaism and Polygamy?

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When was polygamy banned in Judaism? Who didn’t agree? Why was the initiator known as “Light of the Exile”?
The history of Rabbeinu Gershom’s landmark enactments and their kabbalistic significance.

Ki Teitze: Judaism and Polygamy?

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When was polygamy banned in Judaism? Who didn’t agree? Why was the initiator known as “Light of the Exile”?
The history of Rabbeinu Gershom’s landmark enactments and their kabbalistic significance.

Chukat: Dealing With Resentment

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There are times when we are offended by the words or actions of others. We don’t seek revenge, and when asked, we even forgive. But the bitter grudge remains. How can we free our hearts of those negative impulses?

Shelach: Statistics and Free Will

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Experts attempt to predict people’s future behavior through statistics. Does that mean you are just a statistic? Do you have the free will to make your own decisions or are you just a cog in the machine?
Join this ancient Jewish debate.

Behaloscha: Is It Really Never Too Late?

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The holiday of Pesach Sheni (Second Passover) famously teaches that it is never too late. Is that also true of the worst sins and crimes?
This is a story of someone who received a message from heaven that it was too late, and yet he still received another chance.

Naso: Be Smart and Apologize!

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G-d warned Adam that he would die if he ate from the Tree of Knowledge. Yet he lived to the ripe old age of 930!
What happened? And how was it connected to the Tabernacle in the desert?

Behar-Bechukosai: Three Layers of Comfort

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Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, his son Rabbi Elazar, and the Rebbe each provide a message of encouragement to the Jewish people. The inspiration begins with the Talmud, continues through the Zohar, and receives a new layer of insight through the teachings of Chassidism.

Emor: High Court on the Dock

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The prophet Elijah delivers a scathing rebuke to the High Court, the group of the most respected elders of Israel. Their crime? They failed to wander through the shtetls and teach Jewish children.

Passover: Four Questions for Life

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On Passover eve, we all gather around the Seder table and turn our attention to the children’s recital of the Four Questions. These Questions are not just children’s play. They have deep meaning and relevance for every person’s life. The following pages contain a new and original interpretation for the ancient and beloved text.

Vayikra: How Many Times Could You Ask?

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During the central prayer in Jewish tradition, the Amidah, we ask G-d for health, wealth and happiness. But why is it recited three times a day? Can't I suffice with once a day? And what if I lack nothing--What am I praying for?

Tetzaveh: Archaeology vs. Tradition

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The Jewish people have traditions dating back thousands of years which outline the specific form and format of our traditions. What if archeologists find contradictory evidence? Do we change our rituals or do we not?

Terumah: The Power of the Palpable

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Abraham planted cedars in Beer-Sheba, Jacob transplanted them to Egypt, and the Israelites took them along into the desert.
Why were we dragging cedars for four-hundred years? And what does it tell us about “being Jewish at heart”?

Yitro: Leadership of Love

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Some religious leaders speak derogatorily about others. How did G-d respond to such behavior? What did Rabbi Eliezer do when faced with a similar situation? What did the Rebbe say?

Bo: Why Do Rabbis Make Rules?

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Throughout Jewish history, the rabbis have enacted takanot, or Rabbinic ordinances, to safeguard Jewish observance. Shabbat begins at sundown? The sages extend it by eighteen minutes. The evening Shema must be recited by sunrise? The rabbis said midnight.
Where did they learn this behavior? Why are the Torah’s commands not enough?

Va’era: Jewish Genius

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Until two hundred years ago, eighty percent of the world’s population was illiterate. The statistic among the Jewish population was the opposite: Eighty percent could read and write. How can we explain the difference? Insight into the age-old Jewish approach to education.

Shemot: The Advisors’ Dilemma

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When Pharaoh suggested to drown the newborns, what were his advisors to do? Object and face the consequences, or agree and work with the circumstances?
When faced with a moral dilemma, do you make do with the situation or take a principled stand?
A fascinating lesson from Bilaam, Job and Jethro.

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