Saturday, August 08, 2020

Divrei Torah

Akeidat Yitzchak: Where Torah Fits In

We closed last time with the idea of both Creation and Torah as the ways for people to learn about Hashem. To speak of Torah as how people find their way to their fullest purpose runs the risk of treating it as a tool, subordinate to man, which contradicts other traditions about Torah.

The Narrows

Bein Hameitzarim 5778

 Scylla and Charybdis, between a rock and a hard place, out of the frying pan into the

Ramban to the Book of Bamidbar: Becoming Our Best Selves, With a Divine Background

I built this project on an assumption: by taking comments of Ramban’s as they appealed to me, with no attempt to relate them to each other, I would over the course of time nonetheless find recurring motifs, which would reflect underlying concerns of Ramban’s. My goal was to let Ramban speak for

Fear Itself: Chukat 5778

Boo! I feel that’s the word that should begin every political speech these days. It would be wonderful if the political discussion in both of my beloved countries could be based on reason, intellect and maybe even a little morality, but fear is the spice of the day for political discourse. I

Death and War

The Nature of the Impurity of Death

My temerity in thinking I can communicate Ramban’s ideas briefly and accessibly depends on my selection process, where I often leave out deep

Torah @ Twilight: A Young Israel of Scarsdale Innovation

For many families with young children, staying up for the traditional night of learning on the first evening of Shavuot is simply impossible…after all, that 6 a.m. wake-up call comes regardless of what time you finally went to bed the night prior. So, with the goal of giving everyone the opportunity to

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.

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