Our haftarah this week relates to us the well-known story of Shimshon HaGibor. Over the past few years I have written about the difficulties in understanding the decisions and actions of this final Shofet, as well as the behavior of the nation itself. But the truth
R. Arama introduces his readings of sections of the Torah with long theoretical discussions. Those have often been rich enough to make his textual readings of the actual parsha almost redundant, and I have often taken only snippets.
In this sha’ar, R. Arama offers a rich reading of Avraham’s
The Book of Bereishit portrays three vastly different visits to Yerushalayim. Avraham first encounters this city after intervening in a raging world war. Years later, an acquiescent Avraham and his son voyage to the mountain to execute the Divine command and perform the akeidah. Finally, Yaakov flees his murderous brother and
Many times when I drive from a meeting or an errand and head for a quick stop at the grocery store, I find myself pulling up in front of my own house instead. I seem to have an automatic “home” setting in my brain, unless I really focus.
The midrash at the start of Parshas Bechukosai, which discusses
This week’s parsha lists rewards in this world for keeping mitzvot. Peace, prosperity and other gifts are mentioned. However, nothing is mentioned about Olam Haba! How can that be? Why would Hashem ever have us sacrifice eternal reward for money and peace in this
R. Arama summarizes the 15th sha’ar with a proposition whose importance I have found increasingly clear in the past few years, nature includes miracles [this is the reverse of the rationalist idea everything which looks miraculous to us is actually natural; it means nature includes much more than the ordinary patterns we see,
R. Arama starts the fourteenth sha’ar with several statements from Chaza”l about how Jews should react upon seeing a rainbow, such as the blessing Berachot 59a prescribes to recite. As is his way, he will move off to other topics and work his way back here, but I wanted us to remember where he’s headed.
I took my children to an indoor video game arcade on a rainy day of Chol Hamoed. Most of the people there were children and teenagers, but two people really caught my attention. One was an elderly man playing video games all alone in a motorized wheelchair with an oxygen tank. The second was an elderly lady in a wheelchair, accompanying her
After his long introduction, R. Arama addresses the verses in order, to show how his reading fits the way the Torah tells the story. I will try to avoid repetition, share only the points that strike me as new. It does mean I will jump around, skipping repeat or more minor points. Discontinuity is my
Last time, we saw Rabbi Arama discuss the attempts of other Jewish thinkers to rationalize certain miracles, partially because they could not accept later prophets would outdo Moshe Rabbeinu. We have already reviewed one of Rabbi Arama’s replies, where he counters that miracles do not show the greatness