Parshat Va-Yetzei: Carving Out a Life, In Gd’s Closer or Farther Presence

by R. Gidon Rothstein What Makes Life Worth Living Three times in Va-Yetzei, Rashi refers to a baraita from Nedarim 64b about four people whose are as if they were dead. Gd goes against the general prohibition on linking the divine to a living person in 28;13, identifying Himself, as it were, as the Gd of Yitzhak. Rashi explains Yitzhak’s blindness restricted him to his house, ...

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What Matters More Than We Notice

New Series: End of the Third Sha’ar of Sha’arei Teshuvah by R. Gidon Rothstein I was seventeen, scanning the shelves of the Beit Midrash of Yeshivat Har Etzion for what to study during their mussar seder, and stumbled on Rabbenu Yonah’s Sha’arei Teshuvah, Gates of Repentance. [Brief reminder: Rabbenu Yonah was a relative and younger contemporary of Ramban’s, living 1200-1263 CE.] I come back to it ...

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Onkelos, Rashi, and Ramban to Toledot: Evil and Good We Do and Do Not Recognize

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Toledot opens with Yitzhak’s prayer on behalf of Rivkah, Rivkah’s difficult pregnancy, and then the challenges of having two sons take contrasting paths one good and one not. Comments of Onkelos, Rashi, and Ramban draw our attention to the delicate choices to be made in building lives, and how those choices determine whom we become. Rivkah’s ...

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Final Thoughts on Akeydat Yitzhak to Bereshit

by R. Gidon Rothstein The Akeydat Yitzhak to Bereshit I Found For a long time, I find my way to ideas by taking a corpus of text, review it step by step, then stand back to see what recurred enough to seem important. It was how I drew the distinction central to my Phd thesis—I started our study of Akeydat Yitzhak with a reference to my ...

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Onkelos, Rashi, and Ramban to Hayye Sarah: Death, Relationships, Gd, and Speech

by R. Gidon Rothstein Hayye Sarah opens with the passing of Sarah and closes with the passing of Avraham. I seem to have found more of Onkelos et al on Avraham’s passing, so let’s start there. Having Enough The Torah says Avraham left this world zaken ve-save’a, 25;8, old and sated. Ramban thinks the fulfillment of all his heart’s desires produced his satisfied frame of ...

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Highlights of Ya’akov’s Final Charge to His Sons

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akeydat Yitzhak, Sha’ar Thirty-Three, Part Two Back to Ya’akov and His Sons Both of the ideas we saw last time, the personal and national aspects of life, were on Ya’akov’s mind when he gathered his sons. He planned and was allowed to tell each son what would happen to him over time, the course of his overall ...

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Ya’akov’s Foiled Attempt to Reveal the Messianic Future

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akeydat Yitzhak, Sha’ar Thirty-Two, Second Part Ya’akov’s Foiled Attempt to Reveal the Messianic Future This is the last sha’ar of R. Arama’s commentary on Bereshit. He tells us he plans to show there are actions where the bounds of the analytical do not apply, therefore invisible to Aristotle and his ilk, for they had no exposure to Torah. Linked to ...

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Onkelos, Rashi, and Ramban to Lekh-Lekha: Getting to Know Avraham and Sarah

by R. Gidon Rothstein This week, Onkelos, Rashi, and Ramban invites us to consider Avraham and Sarah, the first of the Patriarch/Matriarch couples to shape the Jewish People. Ma’aseh Avot Siman le-Banim Ramban took the idea the Avot and Imahot shaped the Jewish people more literally than we might realize. In 12;6, and elsewhere, he adopted the view of Tanhuma, ma’aseh avot siman le-banim; literally, ...

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Death Approaches for Ya’akov

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akeydat Yitzhak, Sha’ar Thirty-Two, Second Part Death Approaches for Ya’akov Last time, we saw R. Arama urge readers/listeners to put the physical in proper perspective, spoke of the ways our intentions can shape/affect our physical lives. His recognition of the superiority of the immortal soul, and its impact on this-worldly life, brings him to traditions about ...

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