Author Archives: Arnold Lustiger

The Rav on Shekhinah and LeShem Yihud

by Dr. Arnold Lustiger This treatment of the Rav’s ideas regarding Shechinah and LeShem Yichud is necessarily brief. For more detail, see the Volume 15 of the Torah UMadda Journal “The Kabbalistic Underpinnings of U-vikkashtem mi-sham”  Last week, Gil examined the term Shekhinah and the LeShem Yihud meditation.  Although the Rav is not widely known as having a Kabbalistic focus, ...

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Vort from the Rav: Nitzavim-Vayeilekh

Devarim 30:12 לֹא בַשָּׁמַיִם הִוא It is not in heaven Halachic Man does not stand and waits for the revelation of the truth and inspiration by the spirit. He does not search out transcendental, ecstatic paroxysms, frenzied experiences that whisper intimations of another world into his ears. He does not require any miracles or wonders in order to understand the ...

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Vort from the Rav: Ki Savo

Devarim 26:12 וְאָמַרְתָּ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ     Then you shall say before the Lord, your God. This formula is known as vidui ma’asros, the confession of the tithes. Prima facie, the title “confession” is not fitting for this Parshah. We know what confession stands for: We confess that we have sinned, transgressed, erred. Yom Kippur confession is an act of ...

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Vort from the Rav: Ki Seitzei

Devarim 26:19: תִּמְחֶה אֶת זֵכֶר עֲמָלֵק מִתַּחַת הַשָּׁמָיִם you shall obliterate the remembrance of Amalek from beneath the heavens. Our faith in man’s goodness should not blind us to the latent demonic in man. Civilized men can become the personification of evil. The thin veneer of social restraint can suddenly be lifted, exposing the ugly, brutish potential of man. Created ...

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Vort from the Rav: Shoftim

Devarim 16:21 לֹא תִטַּע לְךָ אֲשֵׁרָה כָּל עֵץ אֵצֶל מִזְבַּח יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ You shall not plant for yourself an asherah, [or] any tree, near the altar of the Lord, your God. Rabbi Akiva Eiger, in his commentary on the Shulchan Aruch, adds that the prohibition of not planting trees was extended by the Rabbis to include even the court­yard or ...

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Vort from the Rav: Re’eh

לֹא תוּכַל לֶאֱכֹל בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ מַעְשַׂר דְּגָנְךָ You must not eat within your cities the tithe of your grain In Hebrew there is an idiosyncrasy. In all languages there is a distinction between not being able to do and not being allowed to do. “I cannot” and “I must not” are two different things. Hebrew is the only language that equates ...

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Vort from the Rav: Va’eschanan

Deuteronomy 4:9-10: וְהוֹדַעְתָם לְבָנֶיךָ וְלִבְנֵי בָנֶיךָ…יוֹם אֲשֶר עָמַדְתָ לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְחֹרֵב and you shall make them known to your children and to your children’s children…the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb. Torah study involves awe and fear, as described in the Gemara (Berachos 22a): [It is written] “You shall make them known to your children ...

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Vort from the Rav: Devarim

Deuteronomy 1:13 הָבוּ לָכֶם אֲנָשִׁים חֲכָמִים וּנְבֹנִים וִידֻעִים לְשִׁבְטֵיכֶם וַאֲשִׂימֵם בְּרָאשֵׁיכֶם Prepare for yourselves wise and understanding men, known among your tribes, and I will make them heads over you. The first chapter of the book of Deuteronomy details the march towards the conquering of the Land of Israel. In this verse, the theme abruptly changes to a conversation that ...

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Vort from the Rav: Matos

Numbers 30:3 אִישׁ כִּי יִדֹּר נֶדֶר להֹ’ אוֹ הִשָּׁבַע שְׁבֻעָה If a man makes a vow to the Lord or makes an oath On the verse and He breathed into his nostrils the soul of life (Gen. 2:7), Nachmanides comments, This verse alludes to the greatness of the soul…This corresponds to the saying of the Rabbis in the Sifri: “Vows ...

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Vort from the Rav: Pinchas

Numbers 28:15 וּשְׂעִיר עִזִּים אֶחָד לְחַטָּאת לַיהֹוָה And one young male goat for a sin offering to the Lord. The Talmud (Chullin 60b, quoted by Rashi on this verse) indicates that at the dawn of creation the sun and moon were of equal size, until the moon approached God and complained that two kings cannot wear one crown. In response, ...

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