Thursday, June 4th, 2020

Parashiot Matot-Masei: High Priests and Accidental Murderers by Yaakov Bieler

July 17, 2012 by  
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Murder as an über-transgression. While murder is obviously the most extreme act of anti-sociability in which one can engage, and it is not surprising that the prohibition against murder is one of the seven Noachide commandments,[1] as well as one of three sins where Jewish tradition demands one should rather give up one’s life than [...]

Parashat Pinchos: So What Did He Really Do? by Yaakov Bieler

July 12, 2012 by  
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Bnot Tzelofchad justifying their claim to their father’s share of the land of Israel. During the course of their presentation to the Jewish leadership to have their father’s assigned portion in the land of Israel turned over to them, the daughters of Tzelofchad discuss their parent’s death and how the particular context in which he [...]

Parashat Balak: Divine Entrapment? by Yaakov Bieler

July 2, 2012 by  
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Divine Entrapment? R. Yaakov Bieler Parashat Balak Bila’am, curse-er for hire. It would appear from Bila’am’s readiness to allow himself to be hired by King Balak of Moav to curse the Jewish people (BaMidbar 22:5-6), that he was hardly a Tzaddik (righteous individual). While he might not have had a particular antipathy towards the Children [...]

Parashat Chukat: A Sibling Rivalry that Refuses to be Put to Rest by Yaakov Bieler

June 27, 2012 by  
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Revisiting a dispute of long ago. In Parashat Chukat, we encounter a curious exchange between Moshe and the King of Edom, which reverberates with enmities of long ago. BaMidbar 20:14-21. And Moshe sent messengers from Kadesh to the King of Edom (with the following message): So says your brother Israel—You know all of the difficulties [...]

Parashat Korach: Moshe at a Loss for Words? by Yaakov Bieler

June 18, 2012 by  
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For once, Moshe and Aharon are silent before a Divine Threat to Destroy the Jewish people. In Parashat Korach we encounter an intriguing radical departure from the standard pattern of behavior that Jewish biblical leaders up until this point have regularly undertaken. The rebels who challenged the legitimacy of Aharon’s position as Kohen Gadol (High [...]

Parashat Shelach: The Mysterious Case of the Shabbat Wood-Gatherer by Yaakov Bieler

June 12, 2012 by  
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A sinful act in the Parasha that is generally overshadowed. Aside from the long series of events associated with the sin of the Meraglim (spies) recorded in Parashat Shelach,[1] a transgression dealt with in a far more curt and ambiguous fashion is the incident of the Mekoshesh Eitzim (the stick gatherer [on Shabbat]) BaMidbar 15:32-36 [...]

“I’ve Looked at CLOUDS from Both Sides Now” by Yaakov Bieler

June 2, 2012 by  
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“I’ve Looked at CLOUDS from Both Sides Now” (Joni Mitchell) Special Clouds in the desert. a. Where to go. Bamidbar 9:15-23 of Parashat Naso provides additional information with regard to the Divine Cloud(s)[1] that accompanied the Jews during their forty years of desert wanderings. When the Jewish people were first freed from Egypt, the Tora [...]

Parashat Naso: Parents and Teachers as Quasi-Kohanim? by Jack Bieler

May 22, 2012 by  
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Parents appropriating Birchat Kohanim in order to bless their children. The Biblical blessing appearing in Parashat Naso, that the Kohanim are commanded to bestow upon the Jewish people— BaMidbar 6:23-26 May God Bless you and Keep you. May God Cause His Face to shine upon you and Be Gracious to you. May God Lift His [...]

Parashat Bamidbar: Nachshon, Prince Among Princes? by Yaakov Bieler

May 21, 2012 by  
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The “Nesi’im” of the tribes. At the beginning of Parashat BaMidbar, we are introduced to the “Nesi’im” (princes) of each of the tribes of Israel.[1] BaMidbar 1:5-15 1) Reuven—Elitzur ben Shedei’ur 2) Shimon—Shlumiel ben Tzurishadai 3) Yehuda—Nachshon ben Aminadav 4) Yisachar—Netanel ben Tzuar 5) Zevulun—Eliav ben Chailon 6) Ephraim—Elishama ben Amihud 7) Menashe—Gamliel ben Pedatzur [...]

Parashat Behar: Crises of Faith for Only the Farmer? by Yaakov Bieler

May 17, 2012 by  
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An expression of a lack of faith in the midst of a biblical Halachic discussion. Individuals experiencing and expressing doubts concerning their religious beliefs are mentioned in a  number of anecdotes found in the Bible.[1] Such questions of faith, however, are virtually absent in the portions of the Tora devoted to Halacha. Consequently, it is [...]

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