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Sparks from the Fire

Sparks from the Fire

By Rabbi Yonatan Udren
Join Rabbi Yonatan Udren for a taste of ancient Jewish wisdom made relevant. Each episode is concise and to the point, and presents a deep spiritual message pertinent to our daily lives. From the weekly Torah portion to the Jewish holidays to Chasidic texts, Sparks from the Fire will leave you with a thought to ponder and an idea to share.
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Parshat Vayechi: Speaking the Language of Love
Why does Yosef cry when his brothers ask for forgiveness after the death of their father, and what does this teach us about seeing the hand of the Divine in our own lives? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how even at the end of the story Yosef speaks the language of love, and his brothers speak the language of fear.  Based on the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bereishit, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
05:56
December 16, 2021
Parshat Vayigash: I am Yosef; is my Father Still Alive?
Why does Yosef ask about the well-being of his father immediately after revealing himself? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how the Yosef’s words not only express his love for his father, but also a new stage of his identity.  Based on the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bereishit, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
07:35
December 09, 2021
Parshat Miketz: Finding the Other Within Ourselves
Why do the brothers assume that their bad fortune in Egypt is due to Divine retribution for their treatment of Yosef? Hear how Yosef’s brothers finally find a space for him in their hearts after so many years.  Based on the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bereishit, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
06:53
December 02, 2021
Parshat Vayashev: Yosef and the Power of Chen
How does Yosef rise to prominence in every place he finds himself? Join Rabbi Yonatan Udren for a six-minute exploration of Yosef’s secret to success: the power of chen. Based on the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bereishit, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
06:22
November 25, 2021
Parshat Vayishlach: And Yaakov Arrived Whole
After escaping Lavan, wrestling an angel, and appeasing his brother Eisav, how can the text say that Yaakov arrived home whole? Join Rabbi Yonatan Udren for an exploration of Yaakov’s great lesson: the power to constantly strive towards perfection is wholeness itself. Based on the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bereishit, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
06:11
November 18, 2021
Parshat Vayetzei: He’s Building the Stairway to Heaven
After waking from the vision of the ladder, why does Yaakov care so much about the place, and not the promises? Join Rabbi Yonatan Udren for an exploration of Yaakov’s prophetic vision and the centrality of sacred space. Based on the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bereishit, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
07:14
November 11, 2021
Parshat Toldot: Embracing the Boldness of Eisav
How could Yitzhak choose Eisav over Yaakov as his heir-apparent? And what does this teach us about the importance of taking bold risks in our own lives? Join Rabbi Yonatan Udren as he explores the fundamental disagreement between Yitzhak and Rivkah: who is fit to receive the blessing of Avraham. Based on the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bereishit, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students.
07:11
November 04, 2021
Parshat Chayei Sarah: What are you Running After?
Rivkah and Lavan both run after guests, but do they run for the same reasons? How can we tell?  Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how the things that we run after in life teach us about what we truly desire. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bereishit, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
07:31
October 28, 2021
Parshat Vayera: The Laughter of Infinite Possibility
What’s  the difference between the laughter of Avraham and the laughter of Sara? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how an open-hearted laugh can teach us the deepest lesson of faith: that God can make anything happen. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bereishit, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
06:42
October 28, 2021
Parshat Lech Lecha: From Darkness You will Know Light
What does Avraham’s mysterious vision of birds and a torch teach us about the relationship between redemption and exile? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how the story of the Brit Bein HaBetarim teaches us about how we can’t truly be at home until we know what it’s like to taste the bitterness of exile. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bereishit, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
07:27
October 14, 2021
Parshat Noach: Toppling the Tower of Conformity
What’s so bad about a world with a singular ideology and language? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how the story of the Tower of Bavel teaches us about the importance of the individual, and how we find balance within the larger narratives without losing ourselves. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bereishit, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
09:09
October 06, 2021
Parshat Bereishit: Desire Crouches at the Door
What kind of book is the Torah anyway? A history book? A science book about the creation of the world? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren about how the Torah is an answer to life’s most meaningful questions, and how the story of Cayin and Hevel teaches us that no matter what, we can always choose to improve. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bereishit, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
07:25
September 30, 2021
Parashat Vezot HaBracha: Why Does Moshe Cry?
What does Moshe cry as he records his death in the final passages of the Torah? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren about how Moshe’s last moment on Earth teaches us that we must never become spiritually complacent, no matter how close we think we are to God. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Devarim, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
09:18
September 27, 2021
Parashat Ha’azinu: The Mystery in Moshe’s Song
What does Moshe choose the medium of poetry to retell the story of Am Yisrael on his last day? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren about how poetry gives space for the inherent contradictions in life, and within ourselves as well. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Devarim, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
08:53
September 17, 2021
Parshat Vayelech: Never Stop Walking
What is the greatest encouragement that Moshe can offer his beloved nation as he nears his death? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren about how the essential of the human being is to walk, i.e. to actualize potential, which includes falling just as much as climbing. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Devarim, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
06:57
September 09, 2021
Parshat Nitzavim: The Guarantee to Return
How can Moshe be so sure that Am Yisrael will experience a miraculous national rebirth after being exiled? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren about how the concept of teshuva, returning, guarantees our national return home, and outlines our spiritual work for the High Holidays. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Devarim, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
08:07
September 02, 2021
Parshat Ki Tavo: Yaakov’s Tithe and Acts of Gratitude
Why does the mitzvah of first fruits include the telling of our national story, and why does the telling begin with Yaakov? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren about how the mitzvah of the first fruits is essentially connected to the story of Yaakov, and from it we learn the true nature of gratitude. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Devarim, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
06:60
August 26, 2021
Parshat Ki Teitzei: The Endless Ideological War with Amalek
How do we understand the mitzvah to wage war against and ultimately erase the nation of Amalek? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren about how the war with Amalek is an ideological war against moral relativism, and that unfortunately this is a war that we’re still fighting today. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Devarim, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
07:20
August 19, 2021
Parshat Shoftim: Meeting the Humble King in the Field
What does the Torah’s vision of the king teach us about the balance between power and humility, and about our relationship with God? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren about how God is truly the humble king, and that God holds a place in His heart for each of us always, no matter what. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Devarim, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
07:54
August 11, 2021
Parshat Re’eh: The Good and Unrefined Good
Do you ever relate to life’s challenges as Divine punishment? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how God gives us good, and unrefined good, how transforming the unrefined good is part of our spiritual work in this world. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Devarim, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
07:28
August 05, 2021
Parshat Ekev: Walking the Tightrope of Leadership
What gave Moshe the right to break the two tablets written by God at Mt. Sinai? And what was God’s response to such a brazen act? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how a leader must walk the delicate tightrope of being both connected to but separate from their people. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bamidbar, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
08:25
July 29, 2021
Parshat Va'etchanan: When Less is More
What’s the connection between Lollapalooza, the 10 Commandments, and John Bonohm? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how less can sometimes be more, and how a relationship can be more meaningful than an experience. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bamidbar, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
08:36
July 19, 2021
Parshat Devarim: The Power of Personal Narrative and the Oral Torah
Why does Moshe retell the same stories we already know, and why does the Torah bother to record them? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how Moshe’s retelling allows us to not only see his humanity, but it opens the door for the evolving nature of the Torah called The Oral Torah. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bamidbar, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
09:13
July 16, 2021
Parshat Matot: More Money, More Problems
How do we keep our spiritual values in place in a world filled with so much consumerism? Hear how Moshe’s implicit rebuke in this week’s parsha, as well as the famous words of Hillel, can help us find the proper balance. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bamidbar, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
08:34
July 08, 2021
Parshat Pinchas: A Leader for Each and Every Spirit
When Moshe asks God to appoint a leader to take his place after his death, what is the essential quality that he feels is vital for their success, and how is that likened to the conductor of a symphony? It's all about making space for the individual, while at the same time offering a broad national narrative. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bamidbar, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
09:13
July 02, 2021
Parshat Balak: God’s Voice Fills the World
Why does the Torah deviate from its narrative and tell us the strange story of Bilaam and his talking donkey? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how this story teaches us a vital lesson: the voice of the Divine can be found in all creation, even in the mouth of a donkey. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bamidbar, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
07:55
June 25, 2021
Parshat Chukat: Joyful Rebuke and Destructive Anger
Why is Moshe punished so severely for hitting the rock instead of speaking to it? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren about the destructive nature of anger, and how joy and faith cannot be uncoupled. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bamidbar, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
07:57
June 17, 2021
Parshat Korach: Is Korach a Rebel or a Rebbe?
Is there more to Korach than his mistakes? Is it possible that Korach’s words carry a deeper truth that we can hear if we only listen closely? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren why the Chassidic Masters called Korach the “Holy Grandfather,” and the deeper messages they heard in his words. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bamidbar, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
10:28
June 10, 2021
Parshat Shelach: Calev, Miriam, and the Language of Faith
What really was the sin of the spies, and how was Calev able to avoid it? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren about how Calev and his wife Miriam teach us about the true meaning of faith.  Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bamidbar, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
08:48
June 03, 2021
Parshat Beha'alotcha: Don’t Try Walking in My Shoes
It’s an all-out family feud this week, with Miriam and Aharon accusing their brother Moshe of neglecting his marriage. Why does Miriam judge her brother so harshly? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren about the importance of knowing that we can never reach another person’s place.  Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bamidbar, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
07:23
May 27, 2021
Parshat Naso: The Bridge between Heaven and Earth
Why does God give the Kohenim the unique mitzvah to bless the nation, and what is a bracha anyways? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how Aharon as his role of the High Priest brought peace between the heavens and the earth, and how we can all follow in his footsteps.  Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bamidbar, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
07:57
May 19, 2021
Parshat Bamidbar: Where Did the Sons of Moshe Go?
How do we understand the glaring omission of Moshe’s sons in this week’s parsha? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how every decision has its consequences, and sometimes there is a price to pay even when we do the right thing.  Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bamidbar, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
09:15
May 13, 2021
Parshat Bechukotai: Swallowing the Bitter Pill of Rebuke
How do we deal with heartbreaking passages of rebuke in this week’s parsha? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how the blessings and the rebuke are both illogical, and they ultimately express our unique and eternal relationship with God. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Vayikra, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
07:30
May 06, 2021
Parshat Emor: Longing for a New Torah
What is the deeper significance of Sefirat HaOmer, and what does it have to do with birth? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how the preparation that we do during Sefirat HaOmer can help us to receive the Torah anew this Shavuot. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Vayikra, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
07:33
April 29, 2021
Parshat Kedoshim: What Does it Mean to be a Holy Person?
What does it mean to be holy, and does that differ from being ethical? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how holiness implores us to be aware of God’s presence in all our actions, both big and small. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Vayikra, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
06:20
April 22, 2021
Yom Haatzmaut: a Reflection of the Light of Pesach
Is Yom Haatzmaut a secular celebration of Jewish national independence, or is it a day of sanctity and spiritual significance? Take a deep dive into the matter with Rabbi Yonatan Udren as he illustrates how Israeli Independence Day reflects the central quality of Pesach, and invites all of us to be a part in the next chapter of Jewish national history. Brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
22:51
April 13, 2021
Parshat Shemini: The Sin of Misplaced Spontaneity
What was the fatal flaw of Aaron’s two sons Nadav and Avihu on the day of the inauguration of the Mishkan, and what does it have to do with jazz music? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how spontaneity is a fundamental aspect of our service of God, as long as it’s in tune with the rest of the band. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Vayikra, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
07:11
April 08, 2021
Parshat Tzav and Pesach: A Taste of the Temple on Seder Night
What does the connection between matzah and the mincha offering teach us about the Temple and Seder Night? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how matzah gives us a taste of the world of the Temple, an ideal world with a clear sense of our true identity.  Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Vayikra, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
07:25
March 25, 2021
Parshat Vayikra: A Burning Desire to Be Close
How can we find meaning and inspiration from the Torah’s in-depth descriptions of animal sacrifices? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how the sacrifices can teach us about a central aspect of Divine service. Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Vayikra, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
06:21
March 18, 2021
Parshat VaYakel: Sanctifying Space and Time
When Moshe gathers the people to ask for donations to the Mishkan, why does he open with a warning about the sanctity of Shabbat? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren about sanctity in time as well as space, and its importance in our lives during these challenging days.  Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Shemot, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
06:51
March 11, 2021
Parshat Ki Tisa: Confusing the Means with the Maker
How could the people who heard God at Mt. Sinai worship a golden calf? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how their mistake is one which we can fall into today: confusing the means with the maker.  Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Shemot, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
06:38
March 04, 2021
Parshat Tetzaveh: The Clothes of the Cohen and the Masks of Purim
Why is Aaron ordered to wear such ornate garments in his role as High Priest, and what does that have to do with wearing costumes on Purim? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how clothes elevate the person who wears them, and how on Purim, even God wears a costume.  Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Shemot, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
05:51
February 23, 2021
Parashat Terumah: A Home Built with Love
God requests from Moshe that the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, be built from donations. But why couldn’t God just have the Mishkan rain down from the sky like the manna? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how this request teaches us about the true nature of love and giving, and makes the Mishkan a shared home built on love.  Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Shemot, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
05:46
February 18, 2021
Parshat Mishpatim: A Belly Full of the Divine
Immediately following an unprecedented prophetic experience, Moshe, Aaron, and the Elders of Israel all join together for a festive meal. But is that really the time for feasting? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how our encounters with the Divine, especially those fleeting transcendent moments, leave us feeling spiritually full.  Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Shemot, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
07:09
February 10, 2021
Parshat Yitro: Do You Want to Change the World?
Before God gives the 10 commandments, the outline of the covenant is offered to Moshe. What are the terms of this agreement? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how Am Israel's relationship with the Divine must walk a delicate balance between mission and responsibility.  Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Shemot, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
08:20
February 04, 2021
Parshat Bashalach: Raising Our Hands in Faith
After 10 plagues and the spitting of the sea, how could Am Yisrael struggle so mightily with their faith in God? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how Moshe’s hands during the war with Amalek offer us a unique insight into the true nature of faith.  Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Shemot, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
07:26
January 28, 2021
Parshat Bo: The Transformation of a Nation
How did a nation of slaves become transformed into God’s nation? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how the Israelites' request for gold and silver from their Egyptian neighbors returned their dignity and prepared them for true freedom.  Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Shemot, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.
07:58
January 21, 2021
Parshat Va'era: Choosing to Know God
Why in this week’s parsha does God suddenly want to be known? And why is Egypt the vehicle through which God chooses to be known? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how we decide if and how God exists in our lives.  Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Shemot, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus. In loving memory of Yitzhak Chaim ben Dina.
06:33
January 14, 2021
Parshat Shemot: Found in Translation
Why does God need an emissary to take Am Yisrael out of Egypt? Hear from Rabbi Yonatan Udren how  God needs each and every one of us to act as a translator and fulfill our Divine mission.  Inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on Bereishit, and brought to you by the RRG Beit Midrash, the spiritual home for Hebrew University students on campus.  Special thanks to Yosef Gutman Levitt for the use of his song "HaYehudi HaKadosh."
06:60
January 05, 2021