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Yearly Archives: 2019

Beginner’s Guide to Hassidut

For Parashat Mishpatim Immediately following the momentous event of Mount Sinai, the Israelites are handed a long list of laws and regulations, detailed in Parashat Mishpatim. Surprisingly, these laws have very little to do with rituals, sacrifices, or spirituality. Rather, they deal with financial and physical damages, and with the…

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Law of Responsibility

שָׁלֹ֣שׁ רְגָלִ֔ים תָּחֹ֥ג לִ֖י בַּשָּׁנָֽה – You shall celebrate three pilgrimage holidays a year (Ex. 23:14) We all know the three pilgrimage holidays, Pesah, Shavuot, and Sukkot. Do we also know how Shavuot differs from the other two? Well, to begin with, Shavuot has no set day in the Torah,…

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Contemporary Justice

For Parashat Shofetim Halakha, the Jewish legal system, is a labyrinthian structure of arguments and counter-arguments, with hundreds of rabbis in each generation opining on numerous matters, and only few rising to the status of authority recognized by all. Tens of thousands of volumes published and probably a thousand others…

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Can a Man Be Unbiased?

For Parashat Shofetim Parashat Shofetim opens with a call for Justice for All (Deut. 16:18-20):  שֹׁפְטִ֣ים וְשֹֽׁטְרִ֗ים תִּֽתֶּן־לְךָ֙ בְּכָל־שְׁעָרֶ֔יךָ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יְקֹוָ֧ק אֱלֹהֶ֛יךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לְךָ֖ לִשְׁבָטֶ֑יךָ וְשָׁפְט֥וּ אֶת־ הָעָ֖ם מִשְׁפַּט־צֶֽדֶק לֹא־תַטֶּ֣ה מִשְׁפָּ֔ט לֹ֥א תַכִּ֖יר פָּנִ֑ים וְלֹא־תִקַּ֣ח שֹׁ֔חַד כִּ֣י הַשֹּׁ֗חַד יְעַוֵּר֙ עֵינֵ֣י חֲכָמִ֔ים וִֽיסַלֵּ֖ף דִּבְרֵ֥י צַדִּיקִֽם  צֶ֥דֶק צֶ֖דֶק תִּרְדֹּ֑ף לְמַ֤עַן תִּֽחְיֶה֙ וְיָרַשְׁתָּ֣…

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Home, Temple, Heaven

For Parashat Tetzave Mishkan Sweet Mishkan What can the Mishkan be analogized to? When I present this question at a class, the first, intuitive answer, is that the Mishkan resembles a home, and the second, which comes after a minute of contemplation, is the Garden of Eden. Like a home,…

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The Gifts of the Torah

וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם֘ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם֒ – Observe and practice  כִּ֣י הִ֤וא חָכְמַתְכֶם֙ וּבִ֣ינַתְכֶ֔ם לְעֵינֵ֖י הָעַמִּ֑ים- For it is your wisdom and intelligence in the eyes of the nations  אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִשְׁמְע֗וּן אֵ֚ת כָּל־הַחֻקִּ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה – Who, upon hearing all these laws  וְאָמְר֗וּ רַ֚ק עַם־חָכָ֣ם וְנָב֔וֹן הַגּ֥וֹי הַגָּד֖וֹל הַזֶּֽה – Will say “this great nation…

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My 515 Prayers

וָאֶתְחַנַּ֖ן אֶל־יְיָ בָּעֵ֥ת הַהִ֖יא – I was pleading with God at that time… That sentence always struck me as very personal. Its first word gives the Parasha its name, which is the only one spoken in first person (VaEra is a quote of God addressing Moshe). Those few words are…

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Holy Romance

וַיַּ֗עַשׂ אֵ֚ת הַכִּיּ֣וֹר נְחֹ֔שֶׁת וְאֵ֖ת כַּנּ֣וֹ נְחֹ֑שֶׁת בְּמַרְאֹת֙ הַצֹּ֣בְאֹ֔ת אֲשֶׁ֣ר צָֽבְא֔וּ פֶּ֖תַח אֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵֽד:  Moses made the basin and its base from copper, from the mirrors of the gathering women, who gathered at the gate of the tent of meeting. (Ex. 38:8) This seemingly trivial detail, not included in God’s…

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