Author Archives: Moshe Schapiro

Just Saying

by R. Moshe Schapiro Say What? The Ten Commandments are introduced by the verse, ““Va-yedaber Elokim et kol ha-devarim ha-eleh lemor,” – “And God spoke all these matters, saying” (Shemot 20:1) a variation of the more common, “Va-yedaber Hashem el Moshe lemor” – “And Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying.” The problem in translating this ubiquitous verse is the redundancy of ...

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Spiritual Math V

by R. Moshe Schapiro The fifth and final installment in a series discussing the meaning of the phrase in Selichot “ve-lo shavah lanu.” Other installments can be found here. -ed > or < If we return one final time to the original definition of the Hebrew root “shavah,” meaning “equal” in the sense of “worth,” we can discern an additional intent ...

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Spiritual Math IV

by R. Moshe Schapiro The fourth in a five-part series discussing the meaning of the phrase in Selichot “ve-lo shavah lanu.” Other installments can be found here. -ed ≤ 0 If our spiritual trajectories have changed, and not necessarily for the better, we can suggest an additional interpretation of the phrase ve-lo shavah lanu, returning once again to the meaning of value or ...

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Spiritual Math III

by R. Moshe Schapiro The third in a five-part series discussing the meaning of the phrase in Selichot “ve-lo shavah lanu.” Other installments can be found here. -ed = ≠ The word “shavah” can also be defined as “unchanging” or “constant.” The scriptural basis for this definition is found in Mishlei 27:15, “delef tored be-yom sagrir ve-eshet midyanim nishtavah [from the Hebrew ...

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Spiritual Math II

by R. Moshe Schapiro The second in a five-part series discussing the meaning of the phrase in Selichot “ve-lo shavah lanu.” Other installments can be found here. -ed = 0 Within the interpretation that the word “shavah” connotes value or worth, there is another way to understand the meaning of the phrase “ve-lo shavah lanu.” The Talmud (Sukkah 51a) describes an apocalyptic ...

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Spiritual Math

by R. Moshe Schapiro This is the first in a five-part series continuing throughout this week -ed Spiritual Mathematics: Math Phobia and the Yamim Nora’im = ? We repeat the phrase “sarnu mi-mitzvotecha u-mi-mishpatecha ha-tovim” – “We have strayed from Your commandments and from Your benevolent statutes”around forty times from the first night of Selichot until the last moments of ...

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Im Tirtzu: Longing for the Land and the Problematic Persian Purim Party

by Rabbi Moshe Schapiro Like Totally Sitting Esther was not a valley girl. It is therefore surprising that in the opening passage of Megillat Esther we find the superfluous use of the world “like”: “In those days King Achashverosh was like sitting [ke-shevet] on his royal throne which was in Shushan, the capital” (Esther 1:2). The Midrash (Esther Rabbah 1:11) ...

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Mah Betza: the History of a Bad Idea

Every year, around Chanukah time, we follow the drama of Yosef–from pampered young boy to lowly slave, then master of Potiphar’s house, once again a lowly prisoner and finally the second most powerful man in Egypt. At the same time, as if in mirror image, another drama of ups and downs plays itself out in the life of Yosef’s brother ...

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Humility: Repentance and Relationships

Given the oft-cited urgency of the Shidduch Crisis, we can be forgiven for finding a link between matchmaking and this season’s theme of repentance. The Talmud (Kiddushin 49b) records a fascinating ruling regarding a man from the wrong side of the tracks who is smitten with the rabbi’s pious daughter: “If a man says to a woman: ‘Become betrothed to ...

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