Ramban Devarim

Transitions in Small Bites

by R. Gidon Rothstein Partial Return, Partial Punishment Only a Sith thinks in absolutes, the movies tell us, and Ramban points to two verses in this parsha that remind us that Hashem is no Sith. דברים פרק לא:יז וְחָרָ֣ה אַפִּ֣י ב֣וֹ בַיּוֹם־הַ֠הוּא וַעֲזַבְתִּ֞ים וְהִסְתַּרְתִּ֨י פָנַ֤י מֵהֶם֙ וְהָיָ֣ה לֶֽאֱכֹ֔ל וּמְצָאֻ֛הוּ רָע֥וֹת רַבּ֖וֹת וְצָר֑וֹת וְאָמַר֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא הֲלֹ֗א עַ֣ל כִּֽי־אֵ֤ין אֱלֹהַי֙ בְּקִרְבִּ֔י מְצָא֖וּנִי הָרָע֥וֹת הָאֵֽלֶּה: (יח) ...

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Putting Pieces in Place So Moshe Rabbenu Can Leave

by R. Gidon Rothstein Putting Pieces in Place So Moshe Rabbenu Can Leave the Scene Unable, Unwilling, or Not Allowed Moshe Rabbenu introduces the Jewish people to the fact that this is the end of his life with the words, דברים פרק לא:ב וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֗ם בֶּן־מֵאָה֩ וְעֶשְׂרִ֨ים שָׁנָ֤ה אָנֹכִי֙ הַיּ֔וֹם לֹא־אוּכַ֥ל ע֖וֹד לָצֵ֣את וְלָב֑וֹא Devarim 31;2: He said to them, “I am ...

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Where Repentance Can Take Us

by R. Gidon Rothstein Repentance that Lasts Last time, we examined aspects of the renewed covenant Hashem made with the Jewish people. The parsha then moves to another warning of the consequences of failure to keep that covenant; after bearing those, the Jews will eventually return (the description here has some interesting similarities to parts of VaEtchanan that we read last week, but that’s ...

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Covenant and Commitment

by R. Gidon Rothstein The Nation Being Called דברים פרק כט:ט אַתֶּ֨ם נִצָּבִ֤ים הַיּוֹם֙ כֻּלְּכֶ֔ם לִפְנֵ֖י יְקֹוָ֣ק אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֑ם רָאשֵׁיכֶ֣ם שִׁבְטֵיכֶ֗ם זִקְנֵיכֶם֙ וְשֹׁ֣טְרֵיכֶ֔ם כֹּ֖ל אִ֥ישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵֽל:  (י) טַפְּכֶ֣ם נְשֵׁיכֶ֔ם וְגֵ֣רְךָ֔ אֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּקֶ֣רֶב מַחֲנֶ֑יךָ מֵחֹטֵ֣ב עֵצֶ֔יךָ עַ֖ד שֹׁאֵ֥ב מֵימֶֽיךָ: Devarim 29;9: All of you are standing this day before Hashem your Gd, your heads of tribes, elders, officers, every Israelite man. Verse 10: Your children, women, ...

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Building a Covenant With Hashem

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Ki Tavo opens with different ways in which the Jewish people will in the future or are right then reaffirming their relationship with Hashem. Since “relationship” cannot apply to Hashem in the ordinary way (Hashem is so Other that the use of human language is always either incomplete or incorrect), aspects of these covenantal moments offer ...

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Character Counts

by R. Gidon Rothstein Ramban to Ki Tetzei, Week Two: Character Counts Ramban interprets a few of the halachot in this parsha as a matter of shaping our character, a timely reminder that Jews are supposed to care about character in ourselves and in others, are supposed to value good character and react negatively to those who have not yet developed themselves to a minimal level ...

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Complications of War and Marriage

by R. Gidon Rothstein Ramban to Parshat Ki Tetzei, Week One: Complications of War and Marriage Parshat Ki Tetzei opens with the rules for how to treat a yefat to’ar, a woman taken captive in war, whom the soldier expects to marry. Before he can, the Torah tells him, דברים פרק כא:יב וַהֲבֵאתָ֖הּ אֶל־תּ֣וֹךְ בֵּיתֶ֑ךָ וְגִלְּחָה֙ אֶת־רֹאשָׁ֔הּ וְעָשְׂתָ֖ה אֶת־צִפָּרְנֶֽיהָ: (יג) ...

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Going to War

by R. Gidon Rothstein Ramban to Shofetim, Week Two: Going to War At the end of the parsha, the Torah tells us about how Jews went to war. Two comments earlier in the portion seem to me to lay some groundwork for success in war (and in life). The King’s Character and Ours דברים יז: כ לְבִלְתִּ֤י רוּם־לְבָבוֹ֙ מֵֽאֶחָ֔יו וּלְבִלְתִּ֛י ...

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Israel as the Jewish Home

by R. Gidon Rothstein Ramban to Shofetim, Week One: Some Expressions of Israel as the Jewish Home Life is in Israel Two comments of Ramban’s remind us of his view—which has halachic ramifications—that the Jewish people is meant to live in Israel, a life demonstrably richer there than elsewhere. דברים טז:יח שֹׁפְטִ֣ים וְשֹֽׁטְרִ֗ים תִּֽתֶּן־לְךָ֙ בְּכָל־שְׁעָרֶ֔יךָ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יְקֹוָ֧ק אֱלֹהֶ֛יךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לְךָ֖ ...

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