Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the Chabad.org website. We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given. For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website. If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the Chabad.org website.
The Road to Heaven
The Talmud doesn't believe in "equal time." According to this ancient repository of Jewish wisdom, if a good guy and a bad guy are running for office, you should give the good guy all the publicity and ignore the bad guy. Don't even mention his name.
The Talmud has a source for its bias -- the even more ancient Book of Proverbs by King Solomon, which states, "The mention of the righteous should be for blessing, and the name of the wicked shall rot" (Proverbs 10:7). Quoting this verse, the Talmud rules that "it is forbidden to name one's child after a wicked person."
Which begs the question: Why, then, is this week's Torah reading (Numbers 16-18) named "Korach", after the man who led a mutiny against Moses and Aaron? If the Torah doesn't want us naming our kids Pharaoh, Joseph Vissarionovich or Captain Hook, why does it name one of its own sections after an unrepentant sinner, a person whose actions so endangered the very existence of the people of Israel that G-d made the earth swallow him up so that he "descended alive into the abyss"?
The Holy Tourist
Backpacking Europe with a friend, we were embarrassed by the behavior of the tour groups with whom we would occasionally cross paths.
No, I’m not talking drunken soccer hooligans on the rampage. True, they were irritating, but this was worse. Lager louts may act in a herd-like fashion, drinking and fighting en masse, but they do exhibit some degree of autonomy through those tiny minds.
What provoked our outrage and disdain were the organized tour groups. Dressed identically, even down to those annoying fluorescent hats, decanted off and on those gargantuan buses at the will of their guide, clustering into overpriced tourist traps to buy identical teaspoon sets, postcards and other useless merchandise—we wondered why they bothered coming at all.
When the Ghetto Walls Crumbled
Once upon a time, you told a kid what to do, and the kid did exactly as told. The transmission of Judaism and Jewish practice from generation to generation was a simple process: Parents told their child, "This is what we do and this is what we don't do," and the child obediently complied.
Our ancestors lived in a physical ghetto, there was nowhere to go, and in a psychological ghetto, there were no other real options to choose from.
Education was a simple process.