Monday, October 23, 2017

Divrei Torah

Dangerous Liaisons


This is a hard parsha. Please, forgive me, but when I read this Torah reading, I can’t help but imagine what a movie of this episode would look like if directed by Quentin Tarantino. And then I have nightmares. If I have a reader out there who doesn’t know

Maharal, Week II: A Time Utterly Different From Our Own

Maharal bases his ideas of how the days of Mashiach will look in Talmudic texts. He cites them at length, and goes through them step by step, interpreting them in the way that reveals his view of the Messianic world. Those interpretations, however, aren’t simple or obvious, and would take us too much time to engage

Rivalry: Toldot 5777

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Oedipus complex and the generation gap. I tried to present a picture of Judaism doing its best to avoid enmity between the generations. However, I left unsaid the nasty problem that does haunt the book of Genesis: sibling rivalry. Da dum! This violent and vile problem begins with the first

Abarbanel’s Yemot HaMoshiach: Depths of Exile and Wonders of Redemption

Mashmia Yeshua is a book about the prophets who predicted salvation for the Jewish people. In theory, Abarbanel could have shared only those prophecies that had new information about the Messianic era, and noted in the introduction or conclusion that he’s skipped many prophecies that echo these.

It’s Complex: Vayera-5777

Many people believe that the central myth of Western civilization is the Oedipus story from ancient Greece. Oedipus was born to King Laius and Queen Jocasta of Thebes. Laius heard a prophecy that his son would end up killing his father and marrying his mother, thereby bringing disaster to his city and family. He wished to thwart

Abarbanel’s Understanding of Yeshayahu’s Yemot HaMashiach: Changes in the World and the King Who Will Inaugurate Them

Abarbanel deals with Yeshayahu’s vision of the Messianic era at remarkable length. [I find it especially remarkable because he was pre-printing, mostly, so that to write at such length implies a confidence in readers’ willingness to transcribe this that is itself eye-popping.] As I said last time, I don’t intend to summarize

It’s All Relative

Noach 5777

There’s a very famous story about Reb Zusha of Anipoli (1718-1800). He was one of the most beloved Chasidic leaders of the third generation of the movement, and the brother of Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk. Anyway, the story is told of Zusha, who lay on his deathbed surrounded by all

How Close Are We to Rambam’s Yemot HaMashiach?

Welcome to a new series for Torah Musings, discussing views of the Messianic era in Jewish thought.

Introduction to Chelek, a Powerful and Remarkable King Messiah

One of the later chapters of Sanhedrin (the last in the Gemara, second to last

Examining Parshat Noach

We encounter Noach in this week’s parsha, who symbolizes an entity of rest (the root word being menucha), whose chief mission was to carry on the world in its already existing state. He is about bridging the gap of generations, not introducing chidush.

However, when analyzing the Book of

Mixed Signals

Sermons of the Aruch HaShulchan, Week 17, Sermon 20: Bonds, Unbreakable and Reparable

This is the last from within Derashot Kol Ben Levi that we’ll see now—the rest of the sermons in the work are for Shabbat HaGadol. In the two more Mondays we have until Rosh Hashanah (!!!), I hope to summarize a

To War, to War

In October 1987, I was inducted into the Israel Defense Force, not their finest hour. At my tekes hashba’a (swearing-in ceremony, even though we religious soldiers didn’t “swear,” we

What Do They Want From Me?

Eikev 5776


Have you ever found yourself muttering: “What do they want from me?” Really, you haven’t? I’ve spent most of my life mumbling that phrase. When I was a kid and my parents asked me to take out the garbage, I’d think, “What do they

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