Friday, July 03, 2020

Divrei Torah

Action/Reaction: A Framework to Consider Our Religious Response to Crisis

I promised you a Rambam, and I intend to fulfill my promise. Before I do, consider the conundrum in which God might find Himself should He want fundamental change, framework change, in a time when our sins have distanced us from prophecy. How should God send the message?

Blessings aren’t likely to

A Good Defense of Binyamin Restores a Family

As always for R. Arama, after making the broad points about the righteous always feeling like immigrants in the world, as we saw last time, he turns to the parsha.


Yosef Sets Up and Frames the Interaction


Our Obligation to Assist

Parshat Mishpatim is the biggest source for mishpat Ivri—Jewish law—the ancient legal system developed throughout thousands of years of Halacha. In modern use, the term refers mostly to the parts of Halacha that regulate social behavior: the court systems, monetary issues, markets, torts,

Sit or Stand When Placing the Tefillin Shel Yad

Yalkut Yosef vs. Divrei Shalom Ve’Emet

This is a hotly debated issue! Chacham Yitzhak Yosef (Yalkut Yosef (25:71) notes that “our” custom is for men to place tefillin shel yad while seated. However, Divrei Shalom Ve’Emet (1:41), an important work authored by Rav Shlomo Toledano

Akedat Yitzchak, Sha’ar 28, Final Part: Finding the Good In Yosef’s Brothers, Potiphar’s Wife and Jewish History

In the name of space, I have skipped many examples of how R. Arama sees the Yosef story as a first version of later Jewish history. The incident with Potiphar’s wife can exemplify the rest. He says it shows how even after the harshest exile ends, other enemies will arise, who will try to lure us to their experience/view of the world, at

OU Welcomes Torat Imecha Podcasts to Its Nach Yomi Menu

On January 9, the Orthodox Union’s Women’s Initiative launched its new Nach Yomi program, “Torat Imecha,” dedicated by Eta Brandman Klaristenfeld in memory of her aunt Malka Nussbaum. Female scholars deliver daily podcasts on each of the 742 chapters of Nevi’im

The Decision

The birth of Moshe represents a turning point of the Jewish saga in Egypt. This would-be savior is arrived as the Jewish slaves are being mercilessly crushed by Egyptian oppression. Pharo had legislated that all Jewish infants be flung into the Nile river and delivered to

Shemot: What’s in a Name?

The parsha is called Shemot, Names. It is deceptive. It begins with a list of the names of the Children of Israel. Not an inauspicious beginning. Yet it then seems to veer off. We begin to encounter names that suggest either, or both, unhappiness and disenfranchisement.

Akedat Yitzchak, Finishing Sha’ar 26:  Yaakov’s Efforts With Esav

Point of interest to me, I hope to you: Last year, we were finishing the sixth sha’ar of Akedat Yitzchak on 2 Tevet, so we did just about exactly 20 she’arim this year. Given the 104 she’arim in the book, I think with only four more years we will have studied a small percentage of R. Yitzhak Arama’s jam-packed book. A little

The Moral Equivalent of War

For over 20 years I taught about Chanukah in Jewish day schools. Most of the background information we discussed was about the war against the Hellenist forces of the Seleucid Empire. Since I majored in history, I relished describing the battles and political maneuverings. Some kids loved it, others not so much. But that’s what we have

Balancing Human Effort and Divine Intervention

R. Arama says the sha’ar will discuss how far we have to go in our personal efforts to secure what we find productive and fend off what is damaging. Lack in such effort (aside from reducing the odds life will go as we want) also leads to less providence for a person.

We will see more of what he means

Oh, the Pain!

I love you, Yaakov avinu! There is no character in all of Tanach who is as accessible to me as he is. First of all, I feel a special connection, because my father was Jacob and my first son is Yaakov. It was very cute when my son was growing up and we would talk about the Torah reading and mention Yaakov. He always wanted to know if we were

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