Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Parshat Mishpatim: Sealing the Deal by Yaakov Bieler

January 28, 2011 by  
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The Parasha contains the most famous statement of commitment to Tora observance in the Tora.                 The well-known response of the Jewish people to God’s Proposal that they enter into a covenant with Him, “Na’aseh VeNishma” (we will do and we will hear), appears at the end of Parashat Mishpatim (Shemot 24:7). Both Ibn Ezra [...]

Haftorat Mishpatim: The Significance of Slaves by Gidon Rothstein

January 28, 2011 by  
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Jeremiah 34;8-22, 33;25-26 This week’s Torah reading, the first after telling us of the greatest mass revelation claimed by any people, starts with the laws of slaves.  Especially considering our current revulsion for the whole institution, we might find it odd verging on problematic that the Torah would open its presentation of Jewish law with [...]

Parshat Yitro: Worshipping God via Dualing Human Emotions by Yaakov Bieler

January 20, 2011 by  
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 Praying that our Jewish practices feel pleasant and joyful. One of the requests that we make when we utter the blessings over the Tora each morning, is “VeHa’arev Na HaShem Elokeinu Et Divrei Toratcha BePhinu U’VePhi Amcha Beit Yisrael…” (Please Make PLEASANT, Lord, our God, the words of Your Tora in our mouths and the [...]

Haftarat Yitro: Yeshayahu Sees God by Gidon Rothstein

January 20, 2011 by  
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Yeshayahu 6:1-7:6, 9:5-6 The connection of the first half of this haftarah to our Torah reading seems clear, since it is Yeshayahu’s vision of God; just as the Jews’ saw God at Sinai, Yeshayahu sees God here.  It is less clear why we read the second half, since its fits less well with the Torah [...]

The Brain Death Debate: A Methodological Analysis – Part 1 (Yoma Passage) by Daniel Reifman

January 16, 2011 by  
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At the end of last year, the Halakha Committee (Vaad Halakha) of the Rabbinical Council of America released an educational paper which opposed the halakhic recognition of brain death, bringing the long-simmering debate over this issue to a boil once again.  The paper is most directly a belated response to the RCA Executive Committee’s acceptance [...]

Haftorah Parshat Beshalach by Gidon Rothstein

January 13, 2011 by  
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Judges 4:4-5:31 Why is This the Haftarah for Parshat Beshalah? We might be tempted to assume this haftarah was chosen because it contains a song of praise to God, like in the Torah reading itself.  Indeed, Sefardi custom limits the haftarah to the Shirah, the Song.  Ashkenazic custom, which reads the story leading up to [...]

Parshat Beshalach: “What Have You Done for Me Lately?” by Yaakov Bieler

January 13, 2011 by  
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Explaining the term “Chamushim” At the beginning of Parashat BeShalach, the Jewish people leaving Egypt are described as (Shemot 13:18) “Chamushim”.[1]  A number of interpretations are offered by classical biblical commentators to clarify the implications of this uncommon adjective. The explanations range from understanding the word to connote “loaded down with wealth”—the result of the [...]

Parshat Bo: Pharoah Looks for a Blessing by Yaakov Bieler

January 5, 2011 by  
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Why would Pharoah wish to be blessed by those who have destroyed his country? Once the Egyptians comprehend the nature and scope of the tenth and final plague (Shemot 12:30), Pharoah realizes that he has been defeated. God is no longer interested in hardening Pharoah’s heart,[1] but rather allows him to grant the Jewish people [...]

Haftarah Parshat Bo: Great Minds Don’t Always Think Alike by Gidon Rothstein

January 5, 2011 by  
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Jeremiah 46;13-28 The haftarah we read this week records the words of God spoken to Yirmiyahu “when Nevuchadnezzar the king of Bavel came to smite Egypt.”  That seems to mean that this prophecy occurred relatively soon after the prophecy from Yehezkel that we read last week.  Apparently, Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Egypt inspired both prophets, living [...]