Mitzvot


Counting Up the Days

The Torah commands that Jews keep the festival of Shavu’ot (known to Christians as Pentecost), but does not give us a date for when we must do so. How are we to know? What if we don’t have a calendar to tell us when it occurs?

Earth Day and Genesis

When we piece all this together, we can truly agree with the Psalmist: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Nature reveals to us not only the depth of God’s wisdom as is found in the Torah; it also reveals to us the glory of God in Messiah. Should we not seek to preserve and care for such a precious revelation?

The Enactments of Mordecai and Esther

The Torah says nothing about Purim because the story of Esther did not happen until about a thousand years later. And yet, four mitzvot of Purim are observed today. How could new commandments be given to the Jewish people so long after the revelation at Mount Sinai?

The Copper Laver

Upon closer examination of matters that at first glance are tedious, such as the vessels associated with the Temple, we can find that nothing in Scripture is arbitrary or devoid of deeper spiritual meaning. There must be some deep significance to the seemingly insignificant utensil known as the copper laver.

Shabbat Sh'kalim

The Shabbat that precedes the first of the month of Adar (or, in the case of a leap year, Adar II) is known as Shabbat Sh'kalim. This is the first of four Shabbats with special Torah readings all happening before Passover. The reading for Shabbat Sh'kalim is found in Exodus 30:11-16, which tells the commandment of the half shekel historically collected before Purim.

A Blessing for Bad News

Every experience life has to offer, from the mundane to the extraordinary, is ensconced in specific and verbally spoken blessings by the traditional Jew. There is even a blessing for when one hears exceptionally bad news, such as the death of a close friend or family member. But why?

Toward Peace and Healing

The protracted conflict in Israel carries with it difficulties that are not always visible to the outside world looking in. The pain is real, deep, and pervasive on all sides of this issue, and I have embraced some who have wept as a result of losing those they love.

The Devastating Effect of Canceling the Torah

Imagine if the President declared, "I have fulfilled every aspect of the Constitution of the United States perfectly. Now that it is fulfilled, its authority over this nation has been put to an end in me. Today I tell you, the United States has only one law: that you love one another."

Mind over Mitzvot?

Romans 14 is sometimes pushed as proof that disciples of Jesus need not worry about kosher laws or keep the Sabbath on the seventh day. Did Paul grant people license to eat truly anything? Can any day be kept as the Sabbath? In what sense is nothing unclean in itself?

Jesus’ Kosher Jews

Peter’s vision of the animal-filled sheet has been used as a polemic against kashrut for centuries; very seldom is this story used by Orthodox Jewish thinkers as proof for strict kosher observance. Imagine our surprise when my friend and I dropped in on a Modern Orthodox rabbi’s Torah study that did just that.

Blenders and Neighbors

People in Israel live closely. We have to stand together and help each other. Life is often like living in a dormitory, where we are into and out of each other's homes all the time. We have to be able to laugh at our mistakes and form friendships, so that when things get rough, we can support each other.

Rav Shlomo, Abraham, and the Pagans

We must remember that Abraham does not know that these men are angels and has no idea that they are coming to announce the birth of a son. All this was just a few days after he had fulfilled the mitzvah of circumcision and most certainly he was in pain. Yet Abraham welcomes them.

Celebrate Noach!

The Jewish people were given the Torah and the commandments contained therein. The sages believed that it was appropriate to beautify the commandments by going above and beyond what was required. Here is a fun and unique way to do just that.

Systematic Good-ology

Let’s not fall behind in doing the kind of work the Master spent so much time exhorting us to do—the Sermon-on-the-Mount kind of work, the work of learning to be good, the work of consistently making ethically sound choices. In doing so, we will grow to become more like Jesus.

The Dribble That Brought Me Naches

We sowed and sowed…and there was no reaping for a long time. But now, the due season has arrived and we are reaping. Chuck is now dribbling, shooting, and is on his way to being able to participate in a special needs basketball league. This makes me smile.

Torah and the Environment

Tikkun olam is the idea that we are preparing the world for the Messianic Era. Although it is the Almighty who will finally complete the healing process, we can prepare the world for the Messianic Age by doing our best with God's help to begin the work of restoration now.