Showing posts from August, 2016

The Kethuba

It's read at every Jewish wedding to form a disruption between the erusin  and the nesuin. It's also the document that the bride receives and must retain in her possession for the duration of her marriage. Basically, it's a contract that delineates the husband's obligation to support his wife and the sum of money she must be paid in case of divorce. True, that sounds very utilitarian and not really romantic, so here's something more to associate with the kethuba.

The kethuba begins with the day of the week on which the marriage takes place. It also begins with the letter beth . In Made in Heaven: A Jewish Wedding Guide, (Moznaim Publishing, 1983) Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (p. 107) points out that the first letter of each kethuba is the same as the first letter of the Torah. Just as the Torah attest to the bond between G-d and His people, the kethubah documents the bond between husband and wife. I would add to that what our Sages say about the beginning of the Torah fits i…

The individual as part of the whole

In Parshas Ekev, we get an injunction that echoes the word of Shma, prompting Rashi to ask about the apparent repetion and answer that there it was for an individual and here for the tzibur
[To love the Lord…] with all your heart, and with all your soul: But did he not already admonish us, [by the words]“[And you shall love the Lord, your God,] with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 6:5)? [That, however, was] an admonition addressed for the individual, [while this is] an admonition to the community. — [Sifrei]בכל לבבכם ובכל נפשכם: והלא כבר הזהיר על כך (דברים ו, ה) בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך, אלא, אזהרה ליחיד אזהרה לצבור:
My grandfather asks why it is necessary, for if every individual is wanred, doesn't that cover the tzibur? He references Ramban's suggestion that the miracle of rain is determined by the actions of the majority of the nation. But he believes that there is another aspect to reward and obligation that this teaches us. An individual does not fulfill his duty …

Keeping the mitzvos

In Parshas Vaeschanan, we have the aseres hadibros presented for the second time. Within, two mitzvos are juxtaposed, that of keeping the Sabbath and that of honoring parents. Both add the phrase, כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוְּךָ, stressing as Hashem has commanded.

My grandfather suggests "al derech hadrash" that the stress for these tow is because they may be be perceived as actions that one does for his own inclination. It's nice to take a day off each week even without a religious motivation to do so. Likewise, it is a socially acceptable thing to honor one's parents. That is why it stresses that one keeps this commandments because they were commanded. Our motivation should be observing the mitzvos in the vein as what Chazal said about kosher observance.  One should say, "Yuck, pork is disgusting!" Rather he should say, "It is appealing, but I have to abstain because it is forbidden to me."

Related posts:…

The Last Laugh

This blog was first posted on The Times of Israel under the same title

You probably have heard some variation of this stereotype.  How many times does an Englishman laugh at a joke? Three times: first when he hears it, again when it is explained to him, and the third time when he gets it. What is striking is not just that that he laughs in public when he doesn’t get the joke but that he laughs again when he still doesn’t get it. It is only after some time as elapsed that he finally understands what is funny about the joke and laughs for the last time.  We are in the same situation as the Englishman. We put on a laugh, so to speak, when we affirm, “It will be good.” But we likely feel the difficulties and the pain of the here-and-now more than the promise of a bright future. That is the state of galut [exile].  We are doing the equivalent of laughing without really getting the joke because we feel it is expected of us, and we come to expect it of ourselves. In contrast, when we arrive at …

Breaking bread with G-d

The lechem hapanim  was a specially shaped form of matzah – for all the bread (with the exception of the shtey halechem to be discussed) used in connection with Temple serviceswas unleavened. It was placed on the shulchan [a shelved table] in the mishkan and the Mikdash every Friday and  consumed by the kohanim on the rotation as soon as the batch was replaced the following week. Though the lechem hapanim was a form and so was manmade, it was sustained by a miracle (not preservatives) that kept it fresh and warm for the duration of an entire week. So the lechem hapanim  epitomizes a a synthesis of human and Divine endeavor. 
Recognizing that form of partnerhsip is what offerings are all about. Though we know that G-d the Creator is the ultimate Maker of everything, what we offer are things that we have worked on. G-d  gives us the raw materials, and human beings add value through labor, working to cultivate crops, domesticate animals, and then complete all the tasks inherent in food pr…

Place association

The name of the last book of Torah and the first parsha it contains comes from the second word in  it, a reference to the words that Moshe spoke to his people at the end of his life. Rashi explains why it used the term devarim.

These are the words: Since these are words of rebuke and he [Moses] enumerates here all the places where they angered the Omnipresent, therefore it makes no explicit mention of the incidents [in which they transgressed], but rather merely alludes to them, [by mentioning the names of the places] out of respect for Israel (cf. Sifrei).אלה הדברים: לפי שהן דברי תוכחות ומנה כאן כל המקומות שהכעיסו לפני המקום בהן, לפיכך סתם את הדברים והזכירם ברמז מפני כבודן של ישראל:

My grandfather asks, why the allusive approach? Multiple times in the Torah we see that Moshe rebuked Bnai Yisrael directly. My grandfather suggests an answer based on another Rashi 2 verses later: 
יהי בארבעים שנה בעשתי עשר חדש באחד לחדש:מלמד שלא הוכיחן אלא סמוך למיתה. ממי למד, מיעקב שלא הוכיח את בניו אלא…

Tisha B'Av program in Far Rockaway

Note: in spite of the instructions, people do tend to bring their own chairs. There are a few low chairs there, but they get taken up by the early arrivals.  Also note: there is no suggested donation required.

Achiezer Community Resource Center and Yeshiva Darchei Torah invite the men and women of the community to a special Kinos program. Mourning and Meaning Absorbing the Message of Tisha B'Av Tisha B'Av 5776
Sunday, August 14th, 2016 Beginning with Shacharis at 8:15am and followed byMincha at approximately 1:30pm At Mesivta Chaim Shlomo
211 Beach 17th Street in Far Rockaway  (Parking available in Beach 19th Street parking lot) The recital of Kinos will be interspersed with Divrei Hisorirus from: Rabbi David Ashear 
Author, The Living Emunah Series Rabbi Dovid Bender 
Rosh Kollel Tirtza Devorah of Yeshiva Darchei Torah   Rabbi Paysach J. Krohn 
Noted Author and Lecturer  Rabbi Shlomo Mandel 
Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshiva of Brooklyn Rabbi Zevi Trenk  
Menahel, Mesivta Chaim Shlomo Please bring your own…

The division of cities of refuge

The last parsha in Sefer Bamidbar  includes instructions about setting up the cities of refuge for those who kill unintentionally. What is striking is that three cities are mandated both for Israel proper and for the section on the east, which only accommodated 2 1/2 tribes. Rashi deals with that question (34: 14)
14You shall provide the three cities in trans Jordan and the three cities in the land of Canaan; they shall be cities of refuge.ידאֵת | שְׁלשׁ הֶעָרִים תִּתְּנוּ מֵעֵבֶר לַיַּרְדֵּן וְאֵת שְׁלשׁ הֶעָרִים תִּתְּנוּ בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן עָרֵי מִקְלָט תִּהְיֶינָה:the three cities: Although there were nine tribes in the land of Canaan, and here [across the Jordan] there were only two-and-a-half, He equalized the number of their refuge cities, because Gilead had many murderers, as it says,“Gilead, a city of workers of violence, who lurk to shed blood” (Hos. 6: 8). - [Mak. 10a, Sifrei Massei 6]את שלש הערים וגו': אף על פי שבארץ כנען תשעה שבטים וכאן אינן אלא שנים וחצי, השוה מנין ערי…