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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Parshat Noah: Gd, People, and Special People Move the World

by R. Gidon Rothstein The selections of Onkelos, Rashi, and Ramban I have highlighted in previous years grouped nicely into comments about Gd, people, and then about two special people, Noah and Avraham (often contrasted to each other, because each was the lone righteous person in his generation). The comments also focused mostly on the two major incidents of the parsha, the ...

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Body and Soul, Properly Ordered

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akeydat Yitzhak, Sha’ar Thirty-Two, First Part Why Food Matters, and How It Leads Us Astray At the beginning of this, the penultimate sha’ar of Sefer Bereshit (I just like the word penultimate, use it whenever I have the chance to refer to the second to last of a group or list), R. Arama tells us he aims to consider why ...

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God, Nature, People, and Animals: The World of Parshat Bereshit

by R. Gidon Rothstein In this space, I’ve gone through the parashiyyot of the Torah a few times. Six years ago, after the passing of my dear friend Barukh Leib Ha-Kohen ben Mordekhai Yiddel, she-yihyeh, and Dobba Hayya, aleha ha-shalom, I took five comments of Rashi’s from each parsha, to see what interesting points they made. The next year, I made a similar effort for ...

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Every Part of the Engine Counts

by R. Gidon Rothstein A lifetime ago, in novel coronavirus terms, we were studying the rich Biblical commentary of R. Yitzhak Arama, Akeydat Yitzhak. The last entry was posted on March 10, and then the world changed, as we entered the et Tzarah whose parameters we have not yet fully learned to navigate, whose rules we have not yet accepted the necessity of following, from ...

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Ve-Zot HaBerakhah: Lessons of NonLiteral Onkelos

by R. Gidon Rothstein The last parsha of the Torah introduces itself as the berakhah Moshe conferred upon the Jewish people before his passing. Already there, Onkelos gives us more than we expect. Blessings of a Prophet Onkelos writes asher berakh Moshe neviya, that Moshe the prophet blessed, inserting the fact of his prophecy where the text did not. Similarly, Shemot 14;31 tells us the people believed ...

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