Saturday, August 08, 2020

Divrei Torah

Terumah — Comprehending a Lack of Comprehension

In parshas Trumah, technically speaking, Moshe is not told to make the Menorah. In the parashah, when Hashem’s instructs to Moshe concerning the Menorah, the Torah uses the word “Ta’aseh, it shall be made,” (Shemot 25:31). Rashi explains that because Moshe had difficulty understanding how

The Story of Adam, Chava and the Serpent in Each of Our Lives: Spouses and Their Roles, Immediate and Ultimate

Before Adam named Chavah (in the next sha’ar, the tenth, Rabbi Arama will focus on naming as a particularly human endeavor), he had called her “ishah, woman,” because she had been taken from “ish, man.” Now, Adam says she is called Chavah, the mother of all life, a role in which he plays little

The Serpent, Without, Within, and Sin

Rabbi Arama spends the ninth sha’ar discussing the lure of sin, in relation to what we lose when we yield to the lures of an adulterous woman (literally and as a metaphor for sin): The true nature of the sin that Chavah brought on Adam, and the serpent brought on the two of them. In short, he intends to

Moshe as Father and Gentile Intersect

The long-awaited moment has finally arrived…almost. For more than 2,000 years, humanity drifted aimlessly in a religious void. Torah had yet to descend to this world, and the entire universe was flawed. The chosen people—who had been designated to receive the Torah—were submerged in a brutal bondage

Bo: Table Manners

Ahh, the honeymoon is over. All the wonderful stories about bravery and devotion, miracles and love are giving way to Halacha. From the beginning of Breishit until the 12th chapter of Shmot, we have story after story which stir our imaginations and

Marriage: Where Like Meets Like

Last time, Rabbi Arama argued that the Gemara treated the pairing of body and spirit as a “first marriage.” What we commonly call marriage, he thought the Gemara referred to this as a

A Tale of Two Haftarot

The practice of reciting haftarot on Shabbat and Chag is often a bit embarrassing. There’s probably no communal custom as denigrated as the haftarah. A major competition exists between haftorot and sermons for which cause more people to depart shul. I remember being a

How the Tree of Knowledge Brings Death


Last time, we saw

From Freewill to Prophecy to Eternal Life

We interrupted our usual studies to look at Chanukah in Akedat Yitzchak. We were in the middle of the sixth sha’ar, which suggests that our best strategy would be a brief recap of where the sixth sha’ar was going. Rabbi Arama was looking into the nature of the human soul, which sets people apart from

High Noon


It’s a cliché in old western movies that the climax of the film will be a showdown between the good guy and the

Sibling Rivalry: Vayeshev 5779 

Growing up, my sister and I fought a lot. It didn’t matter who was right or wrong or even if there was a right and wrong. We just fought because that’s what cats and dogs do, or siblings, as the case may be. Today, we’re mature adults and we never fight anymore. We agree on all the important issues in life. We may disagree on the

Taking on the Human Soul

Ends and Effort

R. Arama intends the sixth sha’ar to discuss the nature of the human soul. He starts with the connection between understanding the value of an act and the effort we put into it. Anywhere we cannot see the purpose of an act—a failing to which we are all prone, he says,

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