Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Divrei Torah

Our National Nadir, the Spies

John F. Kennedy’s characterization of failure as a lonely orphan explains Ramban’s surprise at how Rashi ascribes to Moshe the idea of sending spies to Israel. Hashem says, “Shelach lecha anashim,” and Rashi picks up on the lecha, meaning you, to say Hashem gave

The Peril of Excuses

During college I had a summer job making vinyl covers for skimobiles. That summer my grandmother passed away at the age of 96 (at the graveside her cousin claimed that she always lied about her age and was really 98). I got permission to miss work and go to the funeral. The next day I was impressed and

Do You Need a Rabbi for a Wedding?

I. What a Rabbi Does

Most of us have been to enough Jewish weddings that we know how they work. We can easily officiate. Even without a big crowd, all a man has to do is give a

A Blessing on Your Head

One of the many awesome things about living in Eretz Yisrael is that we get blessed every morning. I love it when the kohanim bless us. I can’t get enough. I try to go over to every kohen and say

All Politics Is Personal

 The Sotah Ceremony: A Jealousy Offering

Chapter 5 of Bamidbar lays out what happens if a husband suspects his wife of having an affair. He is supposed to make his concerns clear to her, to warn her in front of witnesses not to be seen secluded with the man in question.

Ramban to Behar: Creating Successful Atmospheres


The comments of Ramban I choose to review do not always align neatly with a central theme, but for Behar I think they do. We’ll start with his view of Shmita, which puts us in touch with the very metaphysically aware side of Ramban we’ve seen before.

Heads Held High: Bechukotai 5778

This week we read one of the two sections of the Torah called tochacha

Shavuot: A Day With No Ritual

Soon the holiday of Shavuot will arrive, a time known for when God delivered the Torah to the Jews at Mount Sinai. There is a fundamental question that must be asked about this holiday that can shed light on the document of the Torah that most

Holy Hutzpah


Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, I was part of that TV generation. We didn’t yet

Ramban to Kedoshim: The Nature of Sanctity

Ramban made famous the phrase “naval birshut ha-Torah, a person who acts badly, with full permission of the Torah.” He said that

Sin as a Cover, Spontaneous Blessing and More

The Fat That Covers

The Torah and Halacha refer to two kinds of fat in an animal,

Geula and Messianism: Geulat Mitzraim and Geulat Yisrael

Geulat Mitzrayim is the prototypical process of redemption, the foundation of Jewish nationhood, the model and blueprint for all subsequent

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