The “Unneeded” Altar, and Making Aharon and His Sons Into Kohanim

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Tetzaveh Chapter thirty of Sefer Shemot details how to construct the altar found in the structure of the Mishkan, known as the golden altar, mitzbach ha-zahav, or the altar for incense, mizbach ha-ketoret. R. Mecklenburg wonders why the Torah waited until here, when the other furnishings were laid out in Terumah. Ovadiahmi-Bertinoro:The Incense Altar Honors ...

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When Meat and Milk Meet

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Tetzaveh The prohibition against mixing meat and milk, one of the most specifically Jewish eating rules, applies only to when the two were cooked together, by Torah law. Siman 91 in Yoreh De’ah takes on other ways the two can mix, and the extent of issue thus created. Mixing Without Cooking The siman starts with ...

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Keranot, Parochet, and Aron

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Terumah I find I’ve studied HaKtav VeHaKabbalah at greater length than our other commentators in previous weeks. Terumah gives me a chance to recalibrate a bit. Horns and Extensions The Torah calls the corners of the altar keranot, 27;2, a word that really means horns. HaKetav VeHaKabbalah says the word was expanded from its original ...

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Bodily Cleanliness for Prayer

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Terumah Let’s stipulate we are all in close enough contact with our inner child to make bathroom jokes, then set aside the temptation. Siman 76 of Orach Chayim discuss the problems with the presence of feces or urine for prayer and how we can alleviate the issues. Manure Is Like Ervah, Except Where It’s Not ...

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The Physical and the Spiritual, for God and for Us

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Mishpatim Going Up to “See” God The end of Parshat Mishpatim has another version of the story of the Giving of the Torah, well worth comparing to the one we read last week. For our purposes here, three verses of the story can be taken on their own terms, Shemot 24;9-11. To a plain reading, ...

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Dating and MisDating Shetarot

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Mishpatim Ideally, Jews operate their businesses according to halachah, just as much as their more obviously mitzvah lives. Were/when we find ourselves back in that preferred situation, we will document transactions with shetarot. Let’s spend one more discussion thinking about how the dating of those documents works or doesn’t work. Not Wrong Enough Last time ...

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Aseret Ha-Dibberot in the Hands of Four Commentators

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Yitro Although much of interest happens in Yitro, it also includes the Aseret Ha-Dibberot, the ten ideas Hashem chose to teach the Jewish people in the Revelation at Sinai. I thought we would benefit from focusing on those dibberot this year. Love of God Squeezes Out Worldly Desires The Torah’s prohibition to covet what belongs ...

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Rules of an Effective Loan Document

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Yitro One of the aspects of the economic crash of 2008 I most remember was the concern/fear among policymakers lest the credit markets freeze. Although the economy today probably depends on credit more than back then, Chazal, too, wanted to ensure borrowers could find lenders and knew that required that lenders have confidence they would ...

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Complaining to Moshe and God

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Beshalach Protests Proper and Im The comment of HaKetav VeHaKabbalah we are about to study does not convince me. Rather, I think it worth considering it to see how assumptions can affect even our greatest Torah scholars, to heighten our alertness to our own propensity to see the world the way we want rather than ...

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The Berachah Before the Ring

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Beshalach: Even HaEzer 34—The Berachah of Erusin It would be logical to think the beracha the rabbi makes before a groom gives a ring to the bride is a birchat ha-mitzvah, a blessing on the mitzvah of marriage. Aruch HaShulchan, Even HaEzer 34;1, points out problems with the idea. The text has us bless/praise God ...

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