Saturday, December 16, 2017

Divrei Torah

The Israelites in Egypt: Settlement and Enslavement

In this column, I will discuss elements of the Exodus narrative that appear in parshiyot Vayigash and Shemot: when the Israelites came to Egypt, what may have caused the famine that drove them there, the possible location of the Land of Goshen, and who the “new king” who enslaved them may have been.

Living With the Enemy

Vayishlach 5778

Yaakov Avinu spent big chunks of his life outside of Israel. His last 17 years were, of

Ramban to Vayishlach: Stepping Right, Stepping Wrong

Ramban opens his commentary on Vayishlach (32:4) by telling us it’s meant to inform us that Hashem saved his servant from a stronger foe (Esav), and to teach us that Yaakov did not rely on his righteousness, but made all the attempts he could to save himself. His specific strategies are also a

White Lies

Toldot 5778

This week, our Torah reading is built upon a lie, but we’re told in Parshat Mishpatim

Finding Our Way to Hashem, Or Not

Seeking Hashem’s Truth

In the beginning of the parsha, Yitzchak and Rivkah struggle with infertility. When she finally becomes pregnant, the fetuses

A Place to Call My Own

Vayera 5778

It’s rather ironic that in many shuls people use the concept of

Ramban on the Incident at Sodom and Immigration Policy

When I spent a year reviewing five comments of Rashi on each parsha, I strove to spread the selected comments from throughout the parsha. That’s my overall intent in studying Ramban as well, except that he often has lengthy comments so rich that they take up all our space. This week, for example,

The Forgotten Man

Noach 5778

My title became famous in a radio address by Franklin Roosevelt on April 7, 1932, and it described the honest,

Ramban to Noach: A Tzadik and the Miracles That Happened to Him

The first verse of this parsha describes Noach as ish tzadik tamim, tzadik hayah be-dorotav, that he was a whole or pure man,

Mixing the Metaphysical With the Physical: Toward an Accurate Summary of Ramban’s Views in Devarim

We have been studying Ramban on the book of Devarim since just after Pesach, two columns on each parsha. Going forward, I hope to start with Bereishit; since we’re now caught up with the weekly Torah reading, we’ll spend only one week on

Time for Thanksgiving

Sukkot 5778

At last, I get to really enjoy Yom Tov in Israel. I haven’t been in Israel for chag in over 16 years.  But that

Two Roads Diverged

Yom Kippur 5778

OK, gentle reader, you know that I’m stealing from Robert Frost. I could have plagiarized Yogi and began with, “If you

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