Ways We Shape Our Experience of God’s World

by R. Gidon Rothstein The Evil Inclination Needs an Opening Yalkut Shimoni 261, on Parshat Be-Shalah, compares Amalek to a fly, a comparison Kli Yakar notes Hazal also applied to the yetzer hara, the evil inclination, in Berakhot 61a. The fly is too weak to make an incision, but takes advantage of open sores or wounds, expands the opening, colonizes the area, and infects the body (still true ...

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The Obligation of Tehumin

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat BeShalah, Year Two Part of my interest in this mitzvah is that it might not belong here at all, since rishonim debate whether there is any Biblical prohibition related to how far we travel on Shabbat. The Early Rambam In Sefer Ha-Mitzvot, Prohibition 321, Rambam writes that we have been warned not to travel outside our Shabbat limits, based on Shemot 16; 29, ...

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When Torah Giants Assume

by R. Gidon Rothstein Kli Yakar on Parshat Bo starts us off by noticing how Moshe changes God’s words about where to place the blood of the Pesach sacrifice. In 12;7, Hashem said the Jews should put the blood on the two doorposts and the lintel; Moshe reverses the order in verse 22. Kli Yakar has three versions of one idea, depending ...

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Not Giving of the Korban Pesah to a Meshumad

by R. Gidon Rothstein Let’s start with an oddity in Parshat Bo we can work our way towards solving: I was not able to find anything in Aruch Ha-Shulhan about the mitzvah we will study today. Rambam counts it, with no demurral from Ramban, it’s in Sefer Ha-Hinuch and Minhat Hinuch, and there’s nothing about it in Aruch Ha-Shulhan. Explanation needed! A Pesah Sacrifice Minefield I found that ...

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Three Crucial Switches

by R. Gidon Rothstein New plan starting with Parshat Va-Era: I’ve been starting from the beginning of the parsha and see how far I get, from now on, I’m going to pick from the end and work backwards, to be sure we see the more often ignored parts of the parsha. We start at barad, hail, the last plague we ...

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Kiddush Or Hillul Ha-Shem

by R. Gidon Rothstein Growing up in New York City, teachers would often warn us our actions in public places, such as the subway, would create a kiddush or hillul Hashem, sanctify God’s Name or—God forbid—lead to its desecration. They were not wrong, but they left out a much larger picture of these two mitzvot I have chosen this week to look into a bit. ...

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Some Keys to Redemption

by R. Gidon Rothstein Growing up, I was always taught the Midrash said the Jews were saved in Egypt because they did not change their names, language, and clothing (as far as I can now tell, the earliest version of this is Torat Moshe of the Hatam Sofer). Kli Yakar to Shemot 1;1 cites the actual version of VaYikra Rabbah 32;5, which identified four merits, the names and languages Hatam ...

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Not Ignoring the Impoverished

by R. Gidon Rothstein Soon enough, not long after Parshat Shemot, the Torah will give us mitzvot in the parsha itself. While we’re waiting, She’iltot points us in the direction of caring about fellow Jews of straitened financial circumstances, I think because Moshe Rabbenu’s choice to leave the palace to check on his brothers’ welfare, risking his status to defend a fellow Jew from the Egyptian ...

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Hard Conversations

by R. Gidon Rothstein Problems We Foresee In Parshat Va-Yechi, Yosef brings his sons to Ya’akov for a blessing. Ya’akov welcomes the boys in theory, grants them status in his family equal to that of Re’uven and Shim’on, then questions who they are in verse eight! Yosef replies they are my sons, whom God has given me here, and Ya’akov returns ...

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Proper Weights and Measures

by R. Gidon Rothstein Continuing last week’s theme, let’s see a mitzvah related to pricing markets properly, ensuring our weights and measures are accurate. I could imagine the Torah grouping all of this under one obligation to measure correctly, yet Rambam—with no argument from Ramban– has three Biblical rules on the issue, an obligation and two prohibitions. Calibrating Our Measuring Apparatus Well ...

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