Showing posts from October, 2015

Sarah's internal laughter

If Sarah laughed, why did she deny it?
The qusestion was brought up in a number of places on Divrei Chaim, including:

Now we'll take a different perspective that my grandfather presents. His interepretations of Vatisachek Sarah bekirba [Sarah laughed within herself] signifed that Sarah was herself unaware of the laughter that arose within. It was not just inaudible but unconscious.

It was only in the depths of her soul that there arose some glimmer of doubt about the truth of what the angels said because acharey baloti hayta li adena [after I've grown old/worn I've become rejuvenated]. In this interpretation, leymor [saying] does not signify a quote but the reason. Sarah would not have said  say those word…

Lech Lecah: a different type of nisayon

As Chazal tell us, Avraham avinu was tested with 10 nisyonos. That number includes the opening commandments in this week's parsha, "Lech lecha."  As Rashi explains, the lecha means letovatcha, for your own good. My grandfather raised the question, if so why is this called a nisayon? Being told to do something for your own benefit hardly seems to be a test of faith.

His answer is that the test here is the challenge to do the action because of the command in spite  of the tangible benefit it will bring. In that way, it is like the command to eat on the 9th of Tishrei, which is said to be as great as fasting on Yom Kippur. It is so when one's motivations are pure -- fulfilling the command even when there is personal pleasure involved.

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What's so bad about chamas?

As I said in last week's post, Dvar Yehudah: parsha points from my grandfather, I'll try to select something from the sefer for each parsha. On Noach, he makes a point about what doomed the generation of the Flood. The text say, "vatimaleh ha'aretz chamas" the land was filled with chamas, wich is sometimes translated as robbery. Why then is the usual term of gezel not used? This was a particular type of robbery, a form of shoplifting that was below the legal bar for criminal prosecution, as it was taking something of very little monetary value -- what would cost less than a pruta, according to the Midrash Rabbah. 

Consequently, the person who was stealing considered it permissable and had no regrets for wrongdoing. And there's the rub,the feeling that one did nothing wrong when one has. That's what we see in the contrast between the first king of Israel, Shaul, and the next king who was chosen for the royal dynasty, David. When Shaul was chastized by Shmu…

Dvar Yehudah: parsha points from my grandfather

Torah: it's not the same old thing

My uncle, Ezra Schochet, compiled some of the notes my grandfather, R' Dov Yehudah Schochet Z"L wrote into a sefer called Dvar Yehuda. I'll try to share some. The following piece is particularly appropriate for the beginning, as it reflects on the constant renewal we have in accepting Torah each day.

The 31st verse of the first chapter of Bereishis refers to "yom hashishi" [the sixth day]. My grandfather cites the Chazal (Footnote citation identifies the source as both Avoda Zara 3a and Midrash Tanchumah) that says, im Yisrael mekablim, if Yisrael accept [the Torha, the world will endure]. He points out that it does not use the future tense, to say "if Yisrael will accept" but the present tense. That indicates that the acceptance of Torah has to be constant., as it says (Midrash Lekach Tov Devarim 6, 7) "that they should be each and every day new in your eyes as if you received them that very day from Mount …

The blood moon over the sukkah

An unusal addition to benching occurs solely on the holiday of Sukkoth. We add in "Harachaman hu yakim lanu eth sukkath David hanofales" Why do we refer to the sukkah of David to indicate a return to the kingdom rather than beis [the house of] David? In the shiurim prior to the holiday, Rav Goldwicht explained that when a house is taken down, it is a ruin and is not rebuilt so much as a replaced. The house that is built on the site of the previous house is a new house, not the same one. In contrast, a sukkahis always called a sukkah. It is still called that even when it is down and folded. When it is put back up, it is not a new structure but the same sukkah.

It's the same concept we see in the renewal of the moon, which is why we say, "David melech Yisroel chai vekayam" during kiddush levana.   It's always the same moon, though sometimes it is in a waning state, or even in an eclipsed state as it was on the first night of Sukkoth this year. But it is stil…