Before Adam sinned, he looked nothing like you or I do today. When we look at one another, all we see is flesh and bone, but if you looked at Adam before he sinned, his appearance was angelic, transcendent, luminescent. The midrash says that he wore kosnos ohr, skin of light. When you looked at Adam, you didn’t see his body, you saw Adam himself; his neshama, his soul. When you look at a light bulb, all you see is radiant luminescence; only if you look closely can you make out the surface of the bulb. The same was true regarding Adam: he was luminescent; only if you looked very closely could you just make out his physical body. His body was transparent, with the outside loyally and fully reflecting his inner self. This is true beauty, where the inner and outer melt into a oneness, where the physical perfectly reflects the inner spirituality; where the physical projects something much deeper than itself. Beauty is the harmony and synthesis of different components, resulting in something infinitely greater than the sum of its parts.

What a difference a word makes!

Parshas Re’eh opens on an intense note: There will be blessing for following Hashem’s mitzvos, and a curse for defying them. But there is a discrepancy in how these consequences are presented. While the good things will happen “when” we listen to Hashem, the bad things will only occur “if” we disobey (D’varim 11:27-28).

There’s a story of two elderly men who were childhood friends but had not seen each other in many years. One day, they ran into each other on the street, and were delighted to recognize one another. One of them lived in the area, so he invited the other into his home. They happily catch each other up on their lives, getting lost in their stories and jokes as the day goes on. The guest finally noticed that it had become dark outside, so he asked his friend if he had the time.

The topic of leadership is both fascinating and fundamental to human society. In Parshas Shoftim, the Torah discusses the three categories of Jewish leadership: The melech (king), the Sanhedrin (courts), and the kohanim (priests). What is the Jewish approach to leadership, and how does it compare to other perspectives on leadership?

How much is really in our control?

In the midst of his five-week-long farewell speech, Moshe Rabbeinu informs B’nei Yisrael that Hashem does not ask much of them. “Only to fear Him,” Moshe assures the nation (D’varim 10:12).