Category: Shema

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Saying Shema Together

When I was in High School, we would all say Shema together, with trop. Since then, I’ve only seen this practice a few times; amongst a minyan of descendents of students of the Gra in Yerushalayim, at R’ Feldman’s shul in Atlanta, and a couple of other places. When learning Alei Shur this morning, I found this beautiful description of...

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Tzitzis, Advance and Retreat

There are two descriptions of the mitzvah of tzitzis. First, from parashas Shelach (and Qeri’as Shema): … [T]hey should make for themselves tzitzis on the corners of their garments (bigdeihem) throughout their generations, and that they put on the tzitzis of each corner a thread of blue wool (techeiles). And it shall for you tzitzis, and you will see it...

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Yotzeir Or, part II

In this second of three parts on the berakhah of Yotzeir Or we continued our look at the problem of evil. (The shiur was given during the Three Weeks.) The previous shiur focused on tragedy, the evil that we experience. This week we look at the interplay of the sun, and what it symbolizes, and the moon, and its symbology,...

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Yotzeir Or, part III

See the previous discussions of Yotzeir Or here (part I) and here (part II). This week we concluded our discussion of the berakhah of Yotzeir Or, as well as the shiur’s run until after the yamim tovim. Some highlights: The process of creation is continual, and thus the berakhah is about the end of evil more than evil itself. There...

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Birkhas Ahavah

The Tefillah: Beyond the Words shiur resumed this week, picking up where we left off, with birkhas Ahavah.Some of the topics discussed: Two dimensions for discussing a middah: “Ahavah Rabba” and “Ahavas Olam” How those dimensions are reflected in the structure of the berakhah as a whole What is love? The avos: Three models for how to express love The...

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Shema Yisrael

In this week’s shiur we concluded Birkhas Ahavah and started Shema with the origin of “Kel Melekh Ne’eman” and some thoughts on its first sentence. Some of the topics discussed: Veha’eir eineinu beSorasekha — Tif’eres, fully integrating our Torah knowledge to shape our entire selves. Vedabeiq libeinu vs Veyacheid levaveinu — Two approaches to serving G-d (another reference to the...

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Veahavta

In this shiur, we look at the rest of the first paragraph of Shema. Some of the issues discussed are: Why do we say “Barukh sheim“? How can a person choose to fulfill the commandment to love Hashem? Can you choose an emotion? What does it mean to serve Hashem with our whole hearts? Two approaches to the idea of...

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Vehayah im Shamoa

We entered Shema last week by following the detailed look at the text started with Birchas Ahavah, Kel Melekh Ne’eman and the rich first sentence of Shema. This week we looked at the second paragraph of Shema, and started by noting similarities and contrasts with the first one. This invited us to take a step back to look at the...

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Parashas Tzitzis

This week’s shiur rounds out our discussion of Shema with the third paragraph. In the first paragraph we accept Hashem as King, and that evolves to the theme of Vehayah im Shomo’ah, accepting the King’s commandments. Beliefs motivate action. In parashas tzitzis we look at how mitzvos reciprocate by shaping our minds. The meaning of parashas tzitzis is studied by...

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Don’t Present Oneself as a Liar!

צריך שיהיו תפילין עליו בשעת ק”ש ותפלה. A man must have tefillin on at the time of reading Shema and prayer [Shemoneh Esrei]. – Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 25:4 בשעת ק”ש ותפלה: ר”ל לכל הפחות בשעת ק”ש ותפלה וכדלקמן בסימן ל”ז ס”ב ואמרינן בגמרא כל הקורא ק”ש בלי תפלין הרי הוא כאלו מעיד עדות שקר בעצמו ח”ו ופירשו בתוספות לפי...

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VeAhavta

My rebbe, Rav Dovid Lifshitz, passed away on 9 Tammuz 5753, 20 years ago today. I am posting a gemara that rebbe would often refer to in his shmuessin. Yuma 86a: At Rabbi Yanai[‘s school] it was said: Anyone whose peers are embarassed by what is heard about him, that is a desecration of Hashem’s name. Rav Nachman bar Yitzchaq...