Aspaqlaria Blog

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Interview: Widen Your Tent

Here is an interview I had with Rabbi Doron Kornbluth about my book, Widen Your Tent, Rabbi Shimon Shkop, and the topic of the book — Rav Shimon’s worldview as he describes it in the introduction to Shaarei Yosher. (Rabbi Kornbluth is a partner in Mosaica Press.)

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Yeru+Shalem

The first time we encounter Yerushalayim (Bereishis 14:18), it is under the rule of Malki-Tzedeq, a “kohein leKeil elyon — a priest of the most high G-d”, under the name “Shaleim”. The other half of the city’s name begins with Avraham’s naming a nearby mountain, “har Hashem yir’eh — Mount ‘Hashem Will be Seen’”. Today it is called Moriah, the...

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The Source that a Reshus haRabbim Requires 600,000 People

The following is based on an article by Rav Mordechai Yehuah Leiv Zaks in no. 27 vol. 6 (1953) of HaPardeis. (H/T Eruv Online blog.) All of our community eiruvin rely on Rashi’s opinion that if the area does not have ששים ריבו, sixty myriads (=600,000), people using the street, it is not a true reshus harabbim (public domain) according...

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The King’s Highway, A Metaphor

I was wondering about something related to the attempt to travel on the Derekh haMelekh through Edom. Derekh haMelekh is the name of an actual highway of the time. But it sounds much like a reference to the core mitzvah of “וְהָלַכְתָּ֖ בִּדְרָכָֽיו – and you shall go in His Ways” (Devarim 28:9). The Rambam (Hilkhos Dei’os 1:5-6) explains this...

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The King’s Highway, The Reality

In parashas Chuqas, Bamidbar 20:17, Moshe asks of the nation of Edom: נַעְבְּרָה־נָּ֣א בְאַרְצֶ֗ךָ לֹ֤א נַעֲבֹר֙ בְּשָׂדֶ֣ה וּבְכֶ֔רֶם וְלֹ֥א נִשְׁתֶּ֖ה מֵ֣י בְאֵ֑ר דֶּ֧רֶךְ הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ נֵלֵ֗ךְ לֹ֤א נִטֶּה֙ יָמִ֣ין וּשְׂמֹ֔אול עַ֥ד אֲשֶֽׁר־נַעֲבֹ֖ר גְּבֻלֶֽךָ׃ Allow us, then, to cross your country. We will not pass through fields or vineyards, and we will not drink water from wells. We will follow the king’s...

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Anav Mikol Adam: reactions

My previous post engendered a couple of responses and a follow-up thought of my own that I would like to share. A quick reminder: In that post, I suggested that maybe “וְהָאִ֥ישׁ מֹשֶׁ֖ה עָנָ֣ו מְאֹ֑ד מִכֹּל֙ הָֽאָדָ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הָאֲדָמָֽה׃” can be defined not only as “Moshe was a very humble man, more so than any other human on earth.”...

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Anav Mikol Adam

A quick thought on something from the parashah (Behaalosekha), based on how one translates the words in the title. Bamidbar 12:3. The context is that Miriam and Aharon just complained about Moshe’s neglected wife, noting that no other prophet saw it necessary to do this. וְהָאִ֥ישׁ מֹשֶׁ֖ה עָנָ֣ו מְאֹ֑ד מִכֹּל֙ הָֽאָדָ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הָאֲדָמָֽה׃ Moshe was a very humble man,...

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The Uncounted Convert

The placement of one section of parashas Naso struck me when reviewing the parashah last week. We just has a parashah and a half of counting the Jewish People — first the 12 shevatim, then the levi’im. By sheivet and clan. And each one given it’s place in the camp. Immediately after (Bamidbar 5:1-4) there is a short section about...

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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...

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Zos Chanukah

Rashi writes on Bamidbar 30:2: “Zeh haDavar — This is the Idea“: Moshe gave nevu’ah with “Koh amar Hashem — Like this said Hashem, ‘Like in the middle of the night’” (Shemos 11, about Makas Bekhoros). And the nevi’im prophesied with “Koh amar Hashem“. Moshe was beyond them in that he also prophesied in the language of “Zeh hadavar —...

Rembrandt: Jacob Wrestling with the Angel 4

Why is this, that you ask my name?

In Vayishlakh, this week’s parashah, Yaaqov Avinu battles an angel. At the end he asks the angel what his name was. The angel answers, “לָמָּה זֶּה תִּשְׁאַל לִשְׁמִי — why is this that you ask my name?” A mal’akh is literally a messenger. An angel is defined by its mission. Thus the name of the angel of healing is simply...

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Rav Yisrael, Epidemics, and Priorities

On the topic of people insisting on maintaining risky behaviors during the corona pandemic… Too many of us are placing minyan, attending weddings or funerals, and other such mitzvos ahead of safety. Despite the fact that we all know, that risk to life comes first. “וחי בהם – ולא שימות בהם”. (“‘And you shall keep My statues and My law]...

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Which Rainbow?

An interesting tidbit from the Seforno on Ber’ 9:13 “vehaysa le’os beris”: והיתה לאות ברית: בהיות הקשת כפולה. כי אמנם נלאו חכמי המחקר לתת טעם לסדר צבעי הקשת השנית אשר הוא על הפך סדר צבעי הקשת הראשונה המורגלת. והיא תהיה אות לצדיקי הדור שדורם חייב. כאמרם כלום נראתה הקשת מימיך. ויתפללו ויוכיחו וילמדו דעת את העם: And it will be...

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Aseres Yemei Teshuvah Reader

There is a new, slightly enlarged, version of my reader for Aseres Yemei Tehuvah for 5781, suitable for putting that wandering mind to work while in shul. Contents: Spiritual Planning………………………………………………………… 1 9/11 and How to Effect Permanent Change…………………….. 3 Teshuvah and Submission…………………………………………….. 7 The Baal Teshuvah and the Tzadiq………………………………… 9 A Good and Sweet New Year………………………………………… 11      Dip...

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Ideals and Yokes

The question I started with was wondering about the first two paragraphs of Shema. (Which is what Arukh haShulchan Yomi is up to.) The first paragraph is an exercise of accepting ol Malkhus Shamayim, the yoke of the Kingdom of [the One in] heaven. The second — ol Mitzvos, the yoke of the commandments. Those mitzvos are the commands of...