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Parshat Vaeira

01/18/2018 08:37:29 AM

Jan18

How do we get people to listen to us when we feel unheard?

In Parshat Vaeira this week-- Moses almost gives up on his holy mission to lead us out of Egypt because he can’t answer this question. God tells him to go to Pharaoh but Moses responds, הֵ֤ן בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לֹא־שָֽׁמְע֣וּ אֵלַ֔י “The Israelites wouldn’t listen to me,” וְאֵיךְ֙ יִשְׁמָעֵ֣נִי...Read more...

Parshat Shemot

01/18/2018 08:33:22 AM

Jan18

The bush is burning but it is not consumed-- וְהִנֵּ֤ה הַסְּנֶה֙ בֹּעֵ֣ר בָּאֵ֔שׁ וְהַסְּנֶ֖ה אֵינֶ֥נּוּ אֻכָּֽל. This is the miracle that leads Moshe to have his first encounter with God.

We are so familiar with this image, but what does it really mean-- that a bush was on fire and not consumed? Was it just a bizarre thing to see in the desert that would catch...Read more...

Parshat Toldot

01/18/2018 08:19:47 AM

Jan18

In our parsha, we read about the Philistines response to Yitzchak’s success. Yitzchak has been blessed by God and is growing greater and greater. When the Philistines see this, we read, וַיְקַנְא֥וּ אֹת֖וֹ פְּלִשְׁתִּֽים, “And the Philistines envied him” (Genesis 26:14). The words that immediately follow reveal how the Philistines respond: וְכָל־הַבְּאֵרֹ֗ת אֲשֶׁ֤ר...Read more...

Parshat Ki Teitzei

11/15/2017 04:17:00 PM

Nov15

In the fourth aliyah of Parshat Ki Teitzei, we read, כי תצא מחנה על איביך ונשמרת מכל דבר רע, “When a camp goes out against your enemies, you shall beware of everything evil” (23:10). What are these evil things we need to beware of? Rashi explains, שהשטן מקטרג בשעת הסכנה, “for Satan accuses in the time of danger”. Our verse here is warning us that davka when we are fighting off our...Read more...

Parshat vaetchanan

08/30/2017 09:41:00 AM

Aug30

In the sixth aliyah of Parshat Vaetchanan, we read the opening words of the Shema, שמע ישראל ה’ אלקינו ה’ אחד, “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One” (6:4). We normally think of אחד as referring to God’s Oneness, as this it the pshat, the clear reading of the verse. The Shema is our anthem as Jews because it calls us to fulfill our purpose of making God’s holy name one in this world. But what...Read more...

Parshat Devarim

07/25/2017 10:04:16 AM

Jul25

In the second aliyah of Parshat Devarim, Moshe recalls not being able to bear the burden of leading B’nai Yisrael alone. אֵיכָ֥ה אֶשָּׂ֖א לְבַדִּ֑י טָרְחֲכֶ֥ם וּמַשַּֽׂאֲכֶ֖ם וְרִֽיבְכֶֽם, “How can I bear your trouble, your burden, and your strife alone?” (Devarim 1:12). In explaining what made us such a burden to Moshe, Rashi teaches that every morning, we would...Read more...

Parshat Matot Massei

07/25/2017 10:03:33 AM

Jul25

When B’nai Gad and B’nai Reuven initially ask to inherit the land on the other side of the Jordan, Moshe is furious. He responds, לָ֣מָּה תְנִיא֔וּן אֶת־לֵ֖ב בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל מֵֽעֲבֹר֙ אֶל־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־נָתַ֥ן לָהֶ֖ם השם, “Why do you discourage the children of Israel from crossing over to the land which the Lord has given them?”...Read more...

Parshat Pinchas

07/25/2017 10:03:10 AM

Jul25

At the end of Parshat Pinchas, we read about how we observe the chagim. From the outset, God makes it clear that creating kedusha requires that we do not perform mundane work, כָּל־מְלֶ֥אכֶת עֲבֹדָ֖ה לֹ֥א תַֽעֲשֽׂוּ (Bamidbar 28:18). Rashi explains this means, אפילו מלאכה הצריכה לכם, כגון דבר האבד, “even work that is needed, such as the prevention of loss,” is prohibited....Read more...

Parshat Balak

07/25/2017 10:02:36 AM

Jul25

In the third aliyah of Parshat Balak, God miraculously opens the mouth of Bilaam’s she-donkey. Despite the fact that she saves him from death, Bilaam beats her three times because he does not see the angel of the Lord threatening him. Shocked by Bilaam’s beating, the she-donkey says,הֲלוֹא֩ אָֽנֹכִ֨י אֲתֹֽנְךָ֜ אֲשֶׁר־רָכַ֣בְתָּ עָלַ֗י מֵעֽוֹדְךָ֙ עַד־הַיּ֣וֹם...Read more...

Parshat Chukat

07/25/2017 10:01:54 AM

Jul25

In the fifth aliyah of Parshat Chukat, Aharon dies and the people weep over him. Rashi explains that at first the people did not believe Aharon really died. Hadn’t Aharon staved off the malach hamavet, the angel of death, during the plague? The malach hamavet could not have conquered him! מיד בקש משה רחמים והראוהו מלאכי השרת להם מוטל במטה, ראו והאמינו, “Immediately Moshe asked for mercy,...Read more...

Parshat Korach

07/25/2017 10:01:13 AM

Jul25


After Korach’s rebellion, God is ready to wipe out all of B’nai Yisrael. But Moshe and Aharon challenge God, קל אֱלֹקי הָרוּחֹת לְכָל בָּשָׂר הָאִישׁ אֶחָד יֶחֱטָא וְעַל כָּל הָעֵדָה תִּקְצֹף, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, if one man sins, shall You be angry with the whole congregation?” (Bamidbar 16:22). The Midrash explains Moshe and...Read more...

Parshat Shelach

07/25/2017 10:00:21 AM

Jul25

In the third aliyah of Parshat Shelach, Yehoshua and Calev challenge the meraglim, the spies, by telling the people not only how good the land of Israel is, but also how the people of the land have no defense against them.  וְאַתֶּ֗ם אַל־תִּֽירְאוּ֙ אֶת־עַ֣ם הָאָ֔רֶץ כִּ֥י לַחְמֵ֖נוּ הֵ֑ם סָ֣ר צִלָּ֧ם מֵֽעֲלֵיהֶ֛ם וַֽה׳ אִתָּ֖נוּ...Read more...

Parshat Behaalotecha

07/25/2017 09:09:51 AM

Jul25

The third aliyah of Parshat Behaalotecha begins with the instruction for the Pesach offering in our second year in the desert. Rashi tells us that chronologically, this text happened before Parshat Bamidbar, making it the actual beginning of the Book of Bamidbar. Because we have the principle that there is no chronological order in the Torah (אין סדר מוקדם ומאוחר בתורה), the placement of this text must come to teach us...Read more...

Parshat naso

06/06/2017 01:06:34 PM

Jun6

At the end of Parshat Naso, we read about how Moshe would communicate with Hashem in the Mishkan. וַיִּשְׁמַ֨ע אֶת־הַקּ֜וֹל מִדַּבֵּ֣ר אֵלָ֗יו, “Moshe would hear the voice [of God] speaking to him” (Bamidbar 7:89). Rashi comments on the form of the verb here, מִדַּבֵּ֣ר. He explains that מִדַּבֵּ֣ר is like מִתְדַּבֵּר, the reflexive hitpael form of the verb...Read more...

Parshat Bamidbar

06/02/2017 09:26:13 AM

Jun2

In the third aliyah of Parshat Bamidbar, we read about how the tribes would camp in relation to the Mishkan. They were supposed to encamp מנגד סביב לאהל מועד, “some distance from the Tent of Meeting” (Bamidbar 2:2). Rashi explains that this distance was a מיל, the same distance that a person may travel on Shabbat, שיוכלו לבא בשבת. On the one hand, we are distant, מנגד, and yet on the other we are never...Read more...

Parshat Behar Bechukotai

06/02/2017 09:10:17 AM

Jun2

In the third aliyah of Parshat Behar Bechukotai, we learn a profound mitzvah ben adam lechaveiro, between people. Hashem tells us, וְכִֽי־יָמ֣וּךְ אָחִ֔יךָ וּמָ֥טָה יָד֖וֹ עִמָּ֑ךְ וְהֶֽחֱזַ֣קְתָּ בּ֔וֹ גֵּ֧ר וְתוֹשָׁ֛ב וָחַ֖י עִמָּֽךְ, “If your brother becomes destitute and his hand falters beside you, you shall support him [whether] a...Read more...

Parshat Emor

05/17/2017 11:49:19 AM

May17

In the middle of our parsha’s instruction regarding the chagim, we read a curious pasuk: וּבְקֻצְרְכֶ֞ם אֶת־קְצִ֣יר אַרְצְכֶ֗ם לֹֽא־תְכַלֶּ֞ה פְּאַ֤ת שָֽׂדְךָ֙ בְּקֻצְרֶ֔ךָ וְלֶ֥קֶט קְצִֽירְךָ֖ לֹ֣א תְלַקֵּ֑ט לֶֽעָנִ֤י וְלַגֵּר֙ תַּֽעֲזֹ֣ב אֹתָ֔ם אֲנִ֖י ה’ אֱלֹֽקיכֶֽם, “When you...Read more...

Parshat Acharei Mot Kedoshim

05/17/2017 11:47:42 AM

May17

The fourth aliyah of Parshat Acharei Mot Kedoshim begins, וְכִֽי־יָג֧וּר אִתְּךָ֛ גֵּ֖ר בְּאַרְצְכֶ֑ם לֹ֥א תוֹנ֖וּ אֹתֽוֹ, “When a ger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not taunt him” (Vayikra 19:33). Chazal understanding ‘ger’ to mean the convert, instead of the biblical ‘stranger’ or ‘sojourner’. For this reason, Rashi teaches us that this taunting is against...Read more...

PARSHAT TAZRIA-METZORA

05/17/2017 10:06:36 AM

May17

In the sixth aliyah of Parshat Tazria-Metzora, Hashem tells Moshe and Aharon that when they come to the Land, He will bring tzaraat on the houses, כי תבאו אל ארץ כנען אשר אני נתן לכם לאחזה ונתתי נגע צרעת בבית ארץ אחזתכם (Vayikra 14:34). Why does Hashem say He will bring tzaraat onto the homes? Tzaraat is meant to be a divine spiritual ailment in response to a sin, so what...Read more...

Parshat Shemini

04/28/2017 11:37:37 AM

Apr28

The exact midpoint of the Torah is in this week’s parsha, Parshat Shemini, between the words דרש דרש. The context of this is after Nadav and Avihu have died and the kohanim have continued with the korbanot, Moshe investigates thoroughly, דרש דרש, why certain korbanot were burned and others were not eaten. The answer Chazal give on the reason for Moshe’s investigation has to do with the laws regarding korbanot and kohanim who...Read more...

Parshat Tzav

04/28/2017 11:32:35 AM

Apr28

In the third aliyah of Parshat Tzav, we learn about a specific type of korban shlamim: שלמי תודה. Rashi on Vayikra 7:12 explains that this can be given על נס שנעשה לו, for a miracle that happened to a person, for example, יורדי הים והולכי מדברות וחבושי בית האסורים וחולה שנתרפא, ‘those who made a sea-voyage, went through the desert, were imprisoned (and freed),...Read more...

Parshat Vayikra

04/04/2017 01:08:22 PM

Apr4

In the fourth aliyah of Parshat Vayikra, we learn about the שלמים offering. Chazal discuss why it is called שלמים and specifically explore its relationship to שלום, peace. Rashi records two answers on Vayikra 3:1. First, מטילים שלום בעולם, ‘because the שלמים instill peace in the world’. We see this because through our sacrifices to God-- today through our tefillot-- we petition God, עושה שלום, to...Read more...

Parshat Ki Tisa

04/04/2017 01:07:21 PM

Apr4

In Parshat Ki Tisa, Moshe famously asks to know Hashem’s ways. ועתה אם נא מצאתי חן בעיניך הודעני נא את דרכך ואדעך למען אמצא חן בעיניך, “And now, if I have found favor in Your eyes, let me know Your ways, so that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your eyes” (Shemot 33:13). This pasuk has a chiastic structure (A-B-B-A): Favor-->Knowing God-->Knowing...Read more...

Parshat Tetzaveh

03/08/2017 03:23:06 PM

Mar8

In the third aliyah of Parshat Tetzaveh, we learn about the clothing of the Kohen Gadol. In Masechet Zevachim 88b, Chazal famously ask למה נסמכה פרשת קרבנות לפרשת בגדי כהונה, “Why is the section on the sacrifices juxtaposed to the section on the priestly garments?” They answer, לומר לך מה קרבנות מכפרין אף בגדי כהונה מכפרין, “In order to teach you that just as the...Read more...

Parshat Terumah (3rd and 7th Aliyot)

03/01/2017 11:14:47 AM

Mar1

In the third aliyah of Parshat Terumah, we learn about the command to construct the menorah. We read מקשה תיעשה המנורה, “the menorah shall be made of hammered work” (Shemot 25:31). The language here is striking-- why the more passive תיעשה (shall be made) and not the more active תעשה (you shall make)? Rashi answers with a story from the Midrash: Moshe found it hard to construct the menorah, and so Hashem...Read more...

Parshat Mishpatim (3rd Aliyah)

02/26/2017 09:06:30 AM

Feb26

In the third aliyah of Parshat Mishpatim, Hashem gives us many different practical and ethical mitzvot. One of them addresses the situation כי תצא אש, “If a fire goes forth” and consumes grain or a field. The Torah rules that in this case, the מבעיר (the person who lit the original fire) must pay for the damage caused by the unruly fire. Rashi explains that even if the מבעיר did not intend for the fire to spread and...Read more...

Parshat Yitro (3rd, 4th, and 6th Aliyot)

02/15/2017 08:06:48 AM

Feb15

In the third aliyah, after Yitro has advised Moshe to appoint leaders to help him adjudicate more effectively and efficiently, Moshe implements Yitro’s system. The Torah says, וַיִּשְׁמַ֥ע משֶׁ֖ה לְק֣וֹל חֹֽתְנ֑וֹ וַיַּ֕עַשׂ כֹּ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר אָמָֽר, “Moshe listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he said” (Shemot 18:24). And yet in the verse right before,...Read more...

Parshat Beshalach (3rd, 4th, 5th, and Tu B'Shvat)

02/08/2017 09:07:18 AM

Feb8

In the third aliyah of Parshat Beshalach, Hashem responds to Moshe in a surprising way. After Moshe tells B’nai Yisrael that Hashem will fight for them and that they just need to be silent, ואתם תחרשון, God challenges Moshe, מה־תצעק אלי, “Why do you cry out to Me?” (Shemot 14:14-15). We know that redemption came to be because God heard the cries of B’nai Yisrael, so why is God now chastising Moshe for doing just...Read more...

Parshat Bo (3rd Aliyah)

02/06/2017 06:50:33 PM

Feb6

In the third aliyah of Parshat Bo, Pharaoh agrees to let B’nai Yisrael go as long as their flocks and cattle remain behind. Moshe responds that this is unacceptable, כִּ֚י מִמֶּ֣נּוּ נִקַּ֔ח לַֽעֲבֹ֖ד אֶת־ה’ אֱלֹקינוּ וַֽאֲנַ֣חְנוּ לֹֽא־נֵדַ֗ע מַה־נַּֽעֲבֹד֙ אֶת־ה’ עַד־בֹּאֵ֖נוּ שָֽׁמָּה, “For we will take from it...Read more...

Parshat Shemot (4th Aliyah)

01/27/2017 08:32:59 AM

Jan27

In the fourth aliyah of Parshat Shemot, Moshe stands at the burning bush, and HaShem commands him to remove his shoes, שַׁל־נְעָלֶ֨יךָ֙ מֵעַ֣ל רַגְלֶ֔יךָ, ‘Take your shoes off of your feet’. We are familiar with the act of removing our shoes for Yom Kippur and shiva. But what exactly does this act communicate-- what does it mean? The Malbim explains that Moshe’s removal of his shoes teaches us...Read more...

Sat, September 22 2018 13 Tishrei 5779