Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Divrei Torah

Temple in Time

Vayakhel-Pekudei 5778

There are widely disparate attitudes to time. Those with a more cavalier attitude find schedules and

Ramban to Vayakhel: The Roles of Fire and Money

 Rounding Out a Prohibition

 At the beginning of Vayakhel, Moshe gathers the people to remind them of proper Shabbat observance. In 35:2, he says not to perform

Criminal Profiling

Zachor 5778

In 1998, I made a recruiting trip for my yeshiva

Parshat Tetzaveh Is When We Meet the Kohanim

In Shemot 28:1, Hashem lays out the process for inducting Aharon and his sons to the priesthood. Ramban points out that the sons had to be in this ceremony, that Aharon’s investiture did not turn all his living descendants into priests. A baby

Divine Judges: Mishpatim 5778

As a young and casual reader of Torah, I was always dismayed when we reached Mishpatim, this week’s Torah reading. After all, Bereishit and the first 20 chapters of Shemot are just so exciting and actually fun to read. It’s all fascinating stories and compelling characters. And

Versions of Limited Autonomy

Shemot 21;3 tells us about when a master sends free his

Ramesses and Raamses: What and Where Were They?

The term Ramesses, alternatively spelled Raamses, appears in two different usages in the Bible. First, we are told that Joseph settled his family in “the land of Ramesses” (Gen. 47:6, 11). The second usage occurs in Exodus 1:11, where we learn that Israelite slaves helped build

Changing History, by Redemption and by Sin

Nisan as the First Month

The first mitzvah commanded to the Jewish people as a nation was to make the month in which we left Egypt the first month of our year. Ramban to 12:2 says that it’s

Is Secular Music Kosher?

I. Extent of the Prohibition

Music, the Talmud says, is forbidden. How do we know this? The Gemara (Gittin 7a) answers with a few possible verses, including “Do not rejoice, Israel, to joy

Who Knows?

Va’era 5778

What do we really know? That’s not such an easy question to answer. Even when people are confronted with irrefutable

Complications of Seeing Hashem’s Hand

Last time, I pointed out that many of Ramban’s comments early in the book of Shemot challenge us to think about the Exodus from Egypt differently than we did until now. I reviewed some of those in my book “As If We Were There: Readings for a Transformative Passover

Under-Acknowledged Ways to Shape the Future

Since this is the last parsha in Bereishit, it seems fitting that Ramban takes one more opportunity to say that what happens to our forefathers prefigures our national history. On 47:28, he relates Yaakov’s actions in going down to Egypt to the exile we currently endure (and which in turn had been set

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