Petihah Kollelet, Third Part, Letters 15-23

by R. Gidon Rothstein Finishing with the Senses, On to the Punishments We’ve been spending some time on thought and how it impacts halachah. In this week’s segment, Peri Megadim will finish that quickly, go back to other senses (he briefly again discusses sight and hearing), then move to the punishments the Torah prescribes for sins. It is an example of an element ...

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Petihah Kollelet, Third Part, Letters 9-14

by R. Gidon Rothstein When the Thought Really Counts The time before last, Peri Megadim raised some questions about hirhur ke-dibbur, the possibility a thought could count as much as speech for some halachic purposes. In paragraph nine of this third part, he returns to the issue, because while it played some questionable role for prayer or blessings, and clearly ...

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Dealing with People Who Don’t Serve Gd

by R. Gidon Rothstein Meshech Hochmah to Lech Lecha: Dealing with People Who Don’t Serve Gd Lot Doesn’t Notice Avraham Outgrow Him Meshech Hochmah notices a progressive change in how verses refer to Lot’s relationship to Avraham. At the beginning of the parsha, 12;4, when Avraham leaves Haran at Gd’s command, the verse says va-yelech ito Lot, Lot went with him, and brings up Lot ...

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Petihah Kollelet, Third Part, Letters 5-8: Objection, Attention, Intention

by R. Gidon Rothstein Last time, we began to see the role of kavannah, intention or awareness of what one is doing, in mitzvot. It started with mitzvot of speech, which Peri Megadim held clearly need more awareness than ordinary mitzvah actions. Before he comes back to that, he detours briefly to note Magen Avraham 60;3 said rabbinic mitzvot in general did not need kavannah, evidence to Peri Megadim that Magen Avraham must have thought Megillah ...

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What People Can and Cannot Accomplish

by R. Gidon Rothstein Meshech Hochmah to Noah: What People Can and Cannot Accomplish The Excellence Appropriate to Each Generation Meshech Hochmah picks up on the way the Torah describes Noah, 6;9, as tzaddik tamim be-dorotav. That last word is plural, his generations, because Noah lived both before and after the Flood. More than different time periods, for Meshech Hochmah they were different types of time periods (he ...

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Petihah Kollelet: Part Three, Letters 1-4, Kinds and Levels of Mitzvot

by R. Gidon Rothstein A long time ago (before Rosh Hodesh Elul, before we completely changed ourselves through repentance), we were studying Peri Megadim’s Petihah Kollelet. We finished the first two parts, and now return to study the three parts left, two of them substantive, the last one a short set of additional notes to the previous four. I’m hoping to finish all this ...

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Ve-Zot Ha-Berachah: Metaphysics as a Marker of the Jewish People

by R. Gidon Rothstein More than most Torah portions, our three commentators brought up issues in Ve-Zot Ha-Berachah we would not see as purely natural. Their view of the Torah’s final description of Moshe Rabbenu, and of the nation the Jewish people were going to form, suggest it is more than coincidental, we are being reminded, as the Torah closes, of the ...

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Haazinu: Words to Ring In Our Ears

by R. Gidon Rothstein Hearing Moshe’s Words Moshe opens the song of Ha’azinu, the song Hashem had told him to teach the Jewish people as a permanent witness of how history would treat them, with a call for his words to come down like rain, descend or settle like dew, 32;2. The idea of his words falling like rain or dew most ...

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Levels of Ease and Efficacy of Teshuvah

by R. Gidon Rothstein Mabit’s Sha’ar Ha-Teshuvah, Chapters 13-18: Levels of Ease and Efficacy of Teshuvah for Various Populations Teshuvah Is Mainly for Jews Chapters thirteen and fourteen support a view of Mabit’s we could spend a lot more time pondering than we have space: he is certain teshuvah works differently for non-Jews than for Jews, is primarily for Jews, although it helps non-Jews a bit. Midrashic sources say ...

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