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Parsha Lab from Aleph Beta

Religion & Spirituality Podcasts

Podcast by Rabbi David Fohrman

Podcast by Rabbi David Fohrman


United States


Podcast by Rabbi David Fohrman




3. The New Normal

We’re now several days into the new normal... except that the new normal changes every day. In this episode, Rabbi Fohrman shares his thoughts on finding spiritual strength in the face of chaos. He begins by looking at a model in the Talmud of someone who attempted to hold onto normalcy: Marta bat Baitos, Martha daughter of Boethus, a noblewoman who struggled to live through the days of the destruction of the Temple. Rabbi Fohrman also reflects on Stephen Covey’s circle of control and raises...


2. Going Into Lockdown: A Conversation With Rabbi Rothwachs

On Thursday, the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County took the frightening step of closing all centers of community -- not only schools, but synagogues, and restaurants, too. Plus, people were asked to refrain from hosting shabbat meals, making playdates for kids, even going to the park. In this episode, Rabbi Larry Rothwachs, synagogue rabbi of Congregation Beth Aaron in Teaneck, NJ, and a past president of RCBC, joins Imu in an open conversation about how this historic decision was made,...


1. Aleph Beta Quarantined: An Introduction

No, this isn't Parsha's a new podcast from Aleph Beta. Presenting: Aleph Beta Quarantined. Every day, every hour, almost every minute, it feels like there is some breaking news about what is happening with COVID 19. Schools are canceled. Synagogues are shutting their doors. Restaurants are closing. We are scared, we are looking into an unknown, and we feel alone and lonely. In this new podcast, Rabbi David Fohrman and Imu Shalev address some of the fears so many of us are facing,...


Parsha Lab Says - See You Soon!

You might have noticed that you haven’t heard a new episode in the last two weeks. Well, in this “mini” episode, we explain next steps for Parsha Lab. If you want to revisit past episodes of Parsha Lab, the episodes will continue to live on Aleph Beta’s site and app. For new Aleph Beta content, check out or download the Aleph Beta app.


Ep. 36 Parshat V'Zot Habracha: Moshe’s Final Farewell

In the Torah’s final parsha, Moshe is preparing to take leave of the nation he has been so devoted all of these years. He gives them blessings before taking his final departure. He then ascends a mountain and is laid to rest in an unknown burial place. Or is it? A careful reading of Moshe’s blessings may give us clues as to where he was buried. The significance of this is not so much about identifying the geographical location of his grave, as it is about teaching us a profound lesson in...


Ep.35 Parshat Ha’azinu: Is This The Song of Doom?

In Parshat Ha’azinu, the Israelites receive a frightening prophetic “song” about their future failure to follow God’s will, and the punishment they receive as a result. When Moshe introduces this prophecy, he states that he hopes his speech will fall “ke-se’irim alei desheh” -- like some sort of ‘rain upon grass.’ What does that mean? And why is it stated as an introduction to the song? Join Daniel Loewenstein and Ami Silver as they explore the hidden layers of meaning in Ha’azinu, and the...


Ep.34 Parshat Vayeilech: What's Wrong With Moses’ Leadership?

Parshat Vayeilech records Moses’ farewell speech on the last day of his life. In the opening of this speech, Moses reminds the people that he won’t be leading them into Israel and that Joshua will take over his position. But when you look closely at what Moses says about Joshua, you can’t help but ask, was Moses trying to sabotage Joshua's leadership? Or was Moses trying to warn the people about something? Join Beth Lesch and Daniel Loewenstein as the re-examine the text and discover a...


Ep.33 Parshat Nitzavim: What Is the 'Hidden Sin' In This Week's Parsha?

Parshat Nitzavim states, “The hidden things are for God but the revealed things are for us,” which suggests perhaps that only God can punish for sins done in private. Could the parsha be alluding to a specific hidden sin in our history? Join Beth Lesch and Ami Silver as they re-examine the text of Nitzavim and its references to the story of the Sale of Joseph, and never think about Parshat Nitzavim the same way again.


Ep.32 Parshat Ki Tavo: What Are Blessings And Curses, Really?

In Parshat Ki Tavo, the Israelites are told that when they enter the land they must publicly bless those who keep the commandments, and curse those who violate them. And they have to proclaim these blessings and curses on two mountains -- Mount Gerizim and Mount Eval. But why? What's so special about these mountains? And why must the blessings and curses be reviewed in such a public way? Join Daniel Loewenstein and Beth Lesch as they use the gematria, grammar and topography hidden in Ki Tavo...


Ep.31 Parshat Ki Teitzei: Remember Amalek; Don't Forget

This week’s parsha includes the commandment to wipe out the memory of Amalek, the nation who attacked the Israelites just weeks after the Exodus from Egypt. It’s the kind of mitzvah that makes our skin crawl in the 21st century. Why would God command wiping out an entire people? What did they do that was so evil that they deserve to be completely erased from history? And why does the Torah use this cryptic language of memory and forgetting to give this command? Our parsha holds a surprising...


Ep.30 Parshat Shoftim: What Does It Mean To Be A Fair Judge?

In Parshat Shoftim, we're given a detailed list of instructions as to how to establish a justice system. Yet there are seemingly random topics woven into these instructions, like idolatry, and how to properly offer an animal to God. Is there a reason for these odd interludes? Are they telling us something important about the justice system? Join Daniel Loewenstein and Beth Lesch as they consider what true justice in the Torah really is -- and never think of Parshat Shoftim the same.


Ep.29 Parshat Re’eh: How Does God Really Feel About Child Sacrifice?

In the beginning of Parshat Re’eh, the Torah warns not to follow other gods that "we don’t know." Idolatry is prohibited, so why does it matter whether we "know” these other gods or not? Join Beth Lesch and Ami Silver as they re-examine the text and its parallels to Akeidat Yitzchak (Sacrifice of Isaac) and understand what it means to “know” God, and for God to “know” you -- and never think about Parshat Re'eh the same way again. For more about the Binding of Isaac:...


Ep.28 Parshat Eikev: Is this Another Akeidah?

In Parshat Eikev, Moshe is gearing up the people to enter the land of Israel. He’s laying out conditions of what God will expect, and what they can expect in return. But strangely, peppered throughout Moshe's talk are echoes and references to Akeidat Yitzchak (Sacrifice of Isaac). Why is this story being referenced here? What is Moshe communicating the people by comparing entering the land to the story of Abraham and Isaac? Join Ami Silver and Daniel Loewenstein as they explore these themes...


Ep.27 Parshat Va’etchanan: How Do We Manage The Influences Around Us?

In Parshat Va’etchanan, the Israelites are forbidden from intermarrying with the Canaanite nations when they enter the land of Israel. While the rationale for this commandment may seem straightforward, its language echoes another story of a foreign nation, namely the story of the brutal mistreatment of Dina in Genesis. What do the Canaanites and Shechem have in common? Join Daniel Loewenstein and Beth Lesch as they re-examine these two narratives and explore the Torah’s understanding of how...


Ep.26 Parshat Devarim: What Did The Spies Do Wrong?

We know God wasn't pleased with the spies. Due to their actions, an entire generation would die in the desert, never entering the Promised Land. But what exactly did the spies do wrong? They reported that the land of Israel 'flows with milk and honey' and was inhabited by strong peoples -- weren't they just telling the truth? Why was God blaming the spies for reporting their experience? Join Beth Lesch and Ami Silver as they explore Moses' retelling and of the spies and discover their real...


Ep.25 Parshat Matot-Masei: The Hidden Story Of Brothers, Borders, And Moses’ Burial

In Parshat Matot-Masei, the Israelites are on the cusp of entering Israel, right on the Eastern side of the Jordan. But before they do, the tribes of Reuven and Gad ask Moshe to stay by the border, as the land is advantageous to raise their herd. At first furious, Moshe agrees to let them have the land provided they battle alongside their brethren as they enter Israel. But there’s something unique about this exchange -- it’s strikingly similar to another negotiation between Joseph and his...


Ep.24 Parshat Pinchas: How Is Land Ownership Connected To The Pesach Sheni Offering?

In Parshat Pinchas, we read about the daughters of Tzelaphchad, who sought to inherit their father’s land. God granted their request, and even codified it into law. But there’s something unique about this story — it’s strikingly similar to the story of the Pesach Sheini offering. When a group of ritually impure people approached Moses and requested a way to make an offering, God codified a practice called Pesach Sheni, which acted as a “make-up” offering for the impure. But what does...


Ep.23 Parshat Balak: Why Weren't The Plagues Enough?

As the Israelites made their way towards the Promised Land, they encountered many nations -- Edomites, Canaanites, Amorites, Moabites -- who greeted them with less than open arms. But after seeing what God did to the Egyptians, wouldn't it have been better to take them in and avoid God's wrath? Join Rabbi Fohrman and Beth Lesch as they re-examine the text of Numbers to understand how these nations thought about God and the Israelites -- and never think about Parshat Balak the same way again.


Ep.22 Parshat Chukat: Why Do We Need A Red Heifer?

In Parshat Chukat, we read the laws surrounding the Red Heifer — the rare cow whose ash is used to purify those who stood too close to a corpse. But what is the reason for this unique ritual? Why do we need the ash of a red cow to be purified? Join Rabbi Fohrman and Daniel Loewenstein as they re-examine the text of the Red Heifer and discover a striking reference to the Garden of Eden — and never think about Parshat Chukat the same way again.


Ep 21. Parshat Korach: Where did The Rebellion Start?

In Parshat Korach, there’s a sudden rebellion against Moses and Aaron. Korach, the leader of the rebellion, argues that all Israelites are holy, not just Moses and Aaron. But where did his distrust of Israel’s leaders come from? Join Rabbi Fohrman and Ami Silver as they re-examine Korach’s family origin, which is recorded in the text, and see how his upbringing may have played a significant role in the rebellion -- and never think about Parshat Korach the same way again.