Yearly Archive: 2021

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The Three Most Central Mitzvos – May 13th

The Three Most Central Mitzvos of the Torah:A Pre-Shavuos Shiur On Thursday 2 Sivan, (May 13th, 2021) gave a shiur in preparation for Shavuos. A short discussion of what Shavuos and the Torah are all about, focuses on the three most central mitzvos of the Torah. (Hint: They’re not “Shabbos, Kashrus and Taharas haMishpachah“) 

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The Chatas and the Olah

There is a difference in halakhah between how a bird is slaughtered when brought as a qorban chatas and when brought as a qorban olah. The Torah says (Vayiqra 5:8-10) that the kohein must “וּמָלַ֧ק אֶת־רֹאשׁ֛וֹ — flick off its head” of the bird offered as a chatas. But there is no similar instruction for the olah; it is just...

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Ki and Im

How likely is it that someone would spill ink and it would legibly depict the Mona Lisa? How likely is it to win the lottery? The two questions differ in one way… When you go to the lottery winner and ask them about their chance of winning, they are amazed. But from the perspective of the lottery, someone usually wins....

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Pieces of Sapphire

In this week’s parasha (Shemos 34:1), when Hashem tells Moshe to carve the second luchos, He says “פסל לך – carve for yourself”. The gemara comments on the apparently superfluous “לך – for yourself” by explaining that Hashem was telling Moshe that he could keep the extra precious stone to make the writing surface. “לא העשיר משה אלא מפסולתן של...

Keruvim on the Aron 0

Calves, Cherubs, and Half Sheqels

Why is it that in last week’s parashah (Ki Sisa) we read all about the sin of the eigel hazahav but this week’s parashah we read about the mitzvah of making two keruvim atop the aron? Why is one a grave sin, and yet the other is mandatory? Skippable, but enhances the question: A while back I posted about the linkage between the...

Path To Happiness 0

Simchas Purim

Let’s just look at Ben Zoma (Avos 4:1): אֵיזֶהוּ עָשִׁיר? הַשָּׂמֵחַ בְּחֶלְקוֹ. Who is wealthy? Someone who is sameiach, happy, with their lot.   Ben Zoma isn’t arguing for complacency. Look at his prooftext: שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: יְגִ֣יעַ כַּ֭פֶּיךָ כִּ֣י תֹאכֵ֑ל אַ֝שְׁרֶ֗יךָ וְט֣וֹב לָֽךְ׃ אַשְׁרֶיךָ — בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה. וְטוֹב לָךְ — לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. As it says (Tehillim 128:2): “When you eat the labor...

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Doing what is Customary

When the Jews reached the Red Sea and saw the Mitzriyim catching up, “וַיִּֽירְאוּ֙ מְאֹ֔ד וַיִּצְעֲק֥וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אֶל־ה’ — they became very fearful, and the Benei Yisrael cried out to Hashem.” (Shemos 14:10) Rashi, on the word “וַיִּצְעֲק֥וּ — they cried out”, quotes the Mekhilta, “תָּפְשׂוּ אֻמָּנוּת אֲבוֹתָם — they picked up their ancestors’ profession” and then quotes a pasuq...

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Hardening the Heart vs. Weighing it Down

So, I recently noticed that the translation of Unqelus I am using offers “hardened Par’oh’s heart” and the like regardless of whether the original word ויחזק (Aramaic: ואתקף) or another word built from \חזק\ or whether it was ויכבד (Aramaic: ויקר) or some other conjugation of \כבד\. I guess “חזק”, strengthened, could refer to hardening, although the Targum’s “ואתקף” refers...

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Why mitzvos?

The following question appeared in the Orthodox Conundrum Discussion Group on Facebook: Been on my mind for a few years and never really discussed it, but feel this is a good forum for it.   I have family and friends who are devout Christians, and can’t help but be a bit jealous of their emuna, bitachon and passion for spirituality....

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When a Paradox is not a Disproof

The GPS is an amazing thing. The chips in it work because of the physics of semiconductors, and the fact that the energy the electrons can absorb or emit come in fixed quantities. All of which is literally applied Quantum Mechanics. The calculations those chips perform involve calculating the distance to multiple satellites by comparing the timestamp the satellites sent...