Mikeitz 5775

Thursday, December 18, 2014

As Yosef interprets Pharaoh's dreams, he advises to hire a "discerning and wise man" over Egypt (41:33). The Ramban explains that this person has a twofold job. He is to ration out the food to the Egyptians accordingly and sell the rest for profit for the country. Secondly, he is to find a way to preserve the food in the graineries. Yosef was the only person qualified to do both and was given the title. We learn from here that there are different types of wisdom and knowledge; by coming together and teaching each other his/her strengths and expertise, we all can potentially reach an intellectual level like Yosef's.

Vayeishev 5775

Thursday, December 11, 2014

We learn an important lesson from the story of Tamar and Yehuda. When Tamar is found to be pregnant from an illicit relationship, she is sentenced to death. She quickly sends a secret message to Yehuda, telling him that he is the father. He admits to this in public and she is spared. Based on Tamar's actions, the Gemara in Sotah (10b) teaches that it is better to throw yourself into a furnace than to embarrass your friend in public.

Vayishlach 5775

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The story of Dina's kidnapping is explained by the Ramban. The 11 brothers had agreed to join and intermarry with the people of Shechem on condition that the city's men get circumcised. The brothers assumed that the city would refuse and give Dina back; but if they did follow through, the sons would take back Dina on the third day (when everyone was recovering). However, Shimon and Levi wanted full revenge and killed the entire city. Yaakov cursed them because the city of Shechem had put trust in the brothers. Yaakov saw it as an opportunity for the city to do teshuvah and follow in the ways of Hashem. Shimon and Levi's actions ruined that idea and betrayed the city.

Vayeitzei 5775

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Despite her apparent tension with her sister Rachel and their relationship with Yaakov, Leah continued to look out for her. The Gemara in Brachos (60a) mentions that through prophecy, Leah had known that there would be 12 tribes of Israel. She was pregnant with her seventh child and calculated out that if it was a boy, only one available tribe would be left to Rachel (Leah had 6 sons already and the maidservants had 4). She prayed to Hashem to give her a daughter so that Rachel could have another son. Hashem answered and gave her Dinah.

Toldot 5775

Thursday, November 20, 2014

At the very end of the parsha, the posuk mentions that Rivkah is the mother of Yaakov and Esav. If this is something we have known since the beginning of the parsha, why is the posuk repeating it? Rashi notes that he doesn't know what this is coming to teach. Some commentators explain that Rashi did not like the possible answers given. My rebbe R' Shmulewitz explains that Rashi is teaching us a valuable lesson: It is ok not to know an answer. One should not be embarrassed to admit a lack of knowledge. This creates a sense of humility within a person and encourages him/her to seek the truth.

Chayei Sarah 5775

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

When Eliezer brings Rivkah back to Yitzchak, Rashi notes that he tells Yitzchak of all the miracles that occurred during his searching for Rivkah. In the next verse, Onkelos explains that Yitzchak saw that her deeds were good and proper like Sarah's. Why was it necessary for Yitzchak to do so? Wasn't it enough to recognize those deeds through the miracles that occurred to Eliezer? The Brisker Rav answers that miracles don't testify for a person's nature and character; one can only see and experience those things firsthand with him/her.

Vayeira 5775

Friday, November 7, 2014

After the Akeidah, Hashem blesses Avraham that his descendants will be numerous like the stars and the sand on the beach. The Kli Yakar mentions that the Jews are compared to these items, as well as dust, depending on their situation. When we are successful and living in peace, we are compared to stars. When our oppressors try to destroy us, we are compared to sand on the beach; the sand prevents waves from reaching any farther than the shore and stops them. When we are at an all-time low and our enemies tread on us, we are compared to dust. But whenever this is so, Hashem always promises us that we will rise to the top again.

Lech Lecha 5775

Thursday, October 30, 2014

This week's parsha speaks of the Mitzvah of bris milah as Hashem commands Avraham to perform it on himself and his household. The Midrash brings a conversation between Rabbi Akiva and Turnus Rufus. Rufus asks, why is there a Mitzvah to perform bris milah? If Hashem desires it, why not create Man with a milah? Rabbi Akiva answers that the Mitzvos are to refine us. Hashem gives us the opportunity to perfect ourselves. We are to take the mundane and sanctify it through Hashem's commandments.

Noach 5775

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

There are thousands of types of animals and birds in the world. Additionally, such an amount of creatures would require an incredible amount of food and space in order to multiply. The Ramban explains that it was a miracle that the ark was able to hold everything; the small was able to hold the large. Why then was the ark as big as it was? Why not make a smaller one and rely on the miracle? The Ramban goes on to say that the way miracles in the Torah work requires man to do whatever he can and the rest is left for Hashem. It is important to lead an active life and not to sit back and wait for things to happen. Hashem rewards those who put in effort.

Ki Tavo 5774

Thursday, September 11, 2014

In the tocha'cha (rebuke), the Torah says a sinner who is engaged to a woman, who builds a house, and grows a vineyard will lose all three. It is interesting to note that these three examples are what exempt a man from participating in war as mentioned two weeks ago. The Chizkuni points out the order there is building a house, growing a vineyard, and then getting engaged; this is the ideal order in life. Here, the man messes up the order and loses it all. The Chizkuni is teaching us the importance of order and structure in life. Disorganization is the antithesis to a growth-oriented individual.

Chukas 5774

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

There are many reasons given as to why Moshe was punished at Mei Merivah. The Rambam explains that Moshe expressed anger when it wasn't appropriate. He called Bnei Yisroel "rebels" (20:10) before giving them water. This was seen as a desecration of Hashem's name since he was the leader of Bnei Yisroel. It is important to recognize how to act in different situations and learn how to control our emotions.

Behar 5774

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The classic question asked at the beginning of the parsha is what is the connection between Mt. Sinai and Shemittah, the Sabbatical year.The Yalkut Shimoni (860) quotes a posuk: "Bless Hashem, you His angels who are mighty in strength, who do His bidding to obey the voice of His speech" (Pslams 103:20). This refers to the people who keep the Shemittah year. The Gemara in Shabbos uses the same posuk to describe Bnei Yisroel as they stood before Mt. Sinai. R' Chaim Shmulewitz explains that just as Bnei Yisroel exalted themselves to the level of angels, so too the farmers that keep Shemittah are exalted. They share the message of "na'aseh vinishma"-we will do and we will hear. This is a special level of emunah and bitachon, to put all your faith in Hashem without questioning and worrying.

Emor 5774

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Right after the Torah speaks about the omer offering, it immediately discusses the mitzvos of leket and pe'ah, to give the poor produce from your field. Why did the Torah decide to put these two ideas together? The Kil Yakar explains that we would think that our fields are exempt from any other mitzvah after harvesting barley for the omer. The Torah comes to say that we still need to use our field to help the poor. The Midrash adds that Hashem surrounded Bnei Yisroel with mitzvos in every action they do. This includes work done in the field.

Metzora 5774

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Ramban from last week (13:47) explains that Tzara'as isn't a natural sickness, it is a miraculous phenomenon. When Bnei Yisroel are one with Hashem, His presence is upon them and gives them a favorable appearance to their bodies, clothing, and houses. But when Bnei Yisroel sins, they remove Hashem's presence from themselves. This results in a hideous mark on them and their possessions.

Shemini 5774

Thursday, March 20, 2014

When the Torah lists the 4 unkosher animals, the camel, the hare, the hyrax, and the pig, it lists which kosher signs they have and which they don't. Why don't just say which they don't have? The Kli Yakar explains that the kosher signs they have make their uncleanliness worse as these animals deceive people into thinking that they're kosher. There is a Midrash that says that the 4 unkosher animals represent the 4 kingdoms (Babylon, Media, Greece and Rome) that ruled over the Jews. When a person eats these 4 animals, their deceptive nature becomes part of the person's nature. The 4 kingdoms deceived the Jews into thinking that they were allies when they never were to begin with.

Tzav 5774

Friday, March 14, 2014

There is a "shalsheles" in this week's parsha. It occurs on the word "vayishchat" - Moshe slaughtered a ram during the inauguration process for Aaron and his sons. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks explains that a shalsheles shows internal struggle. Moshe was happy for his brother to become the High Priest, but he still felt a loss of being unable to do the avodah every day. Moshe realized at that moment what his limits were. This is an important lesson for a leader. In order to be a better leader, one must recognize his/her limits; that will, in turn, help him/her recognize what his/or strengths are. By doing so, the leader humbles his/herself and prevents power from going to his/her head.

Vayikra 5774

Friday, March 7, 2014

"When a man from you brings a sacrifice to Hashem..." (1:2). The Kli Yakar explains this posuk in the following manner: We are to be like Adam, the first man, when we bring a sacrifice. Adam had brought a sacrifice to Hashem out of his own motivation from within. This is in contrast to Cain and Abel, who both erred in this regard. Cain brought fruit from his worst produce; Abel brought a sheep, but only did so in response to Cain (his motivation was out of jealousy and competition). The posuk reads clearer now: When you act like Adam and bring motivation from within yourself, only then is your sacrifice considered for Hashem.

Pekudei 5774

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Da'as Zekeinim equates the Mishkan to Creation. Each day of Creation corresponds to a specific posuk said about the Mishkan. For example, the luminaries in Day 4 correspond to the Menorah, which gives off light. Day 6 and the Creation of Man corresponds to Hashem telling Moshe to "bring Aharon and his sons to be priests" (28:1). How do we see Creation of Man in this posuk? I'd like to make a suggestion. Rashi points out in that posuk that Moshe was to bring Aharon once the Mishkan was completed. The comparison can be made to Man, where he was created once the rest of the world was completed. Once he is created, he has a duty to connect to Hashem using the physical world. This is what the priests do with the keilim of the Mishkan.

Vayak'hel 5774

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks compares Bnei Yisroel from last week to this week. Last week, Bnei Yisroel were gathered together in a state of chaos to make the golden calf. This week, they are gathered together in an orderly fashion to donate to the mishkan. Moshe took their original motivation and turned it into avodas Hashem. As Rabbi Sacks puts it, "If you want to bond human beings so that they act for the common good, get them to build something together." This is an important message for a community. We all must work together in an orderly fashion. We must put aside our own personal agendas for the greater good. We shouldn't shun others due to selfish motives. Together, we can help our community grow.

Tetzaveh 5774

Friday, February 7, 2014

Why is the golden altar for incense mentioned after the priestly clothing and priestly inauguration and not along with the other vessels in the mishkan mentioned last week? R' Gedalia Schorr gives the following explanation: The Hebrew word for incense, "ketores," comes from the word "kesher," connection. The ketores has the ability to connect the lower world with the upper world by turning the bad into good. This is why the incense contains a foul-smelling spice called galbanum, to turn its bad smell into a pleasant smell. Aharon and the priests worked "from evening to morning" (27:21), which is another term for turning the bad in this world to good. Since Aharon had this middah, the Torah saw it fit to connect the golden altar with the priests.

Terumah 5774

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The first vessel mentioned in the building of the mishkan is the Aron. The Gemara in Yoma says that a miracle occurred and the Aron didn't take up space. Rav Moshe Feinstein explains that this miracle teaches us to be just like the Aron. Just as the Aron held the Torah inside it, so too we are to fill ourselves up with Torah knowledge. But once you do so, you are to act with humility as if you didn't fill yourself at all. Act as if the Torah doesn't take up space inside you and continue to learn without end.

Mishpatim 5774

Thursday, January 23, 2014

In the middle of the parsha we learn about the mitzvah of giving tzedakah. In the very same verse, we are commanded not to charge interest. Chazal say in many places how harsh the punishment is for doing so. Why are these two mitzvos next to each other? Rav Chaim Shmulewitz explains that tzedakah is a great mitzvah due to being done out of pure chesed. Charging interest is taking that chesed you've done and tainting it; you look to gain something in return for your good deed. By being selfish, you lose your place in the World to Come.

Beshalach 5774

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Later on in the torah portion of Bamidbar, Moshe blesses Yehoshua to save him from the spies. Rashi there says the blessing was "Hashem (Yud-key) will save you". The Tzeidah Laderech asks why did Moshe use that specific name of Hashem as opposed to others. He answers based on the story at the end of Beshalach where Yehoshua defeats Amalek. Hashem swears at the end of the story to fight a continuous war against Amalek using the name (yud-key). Moshe made sure to protect Yehoshua with the swear made by Hashem, especially since the spies had mentioned Amalek in their report back to Bnei Yisroel.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...