Regret, Retribution, Resilient Resistance

by R. Gidon Rothstein Mabit’s Sha’ar Ha-Teshuvah, Ch. Two -Three: Regret, Retribution, Resilient Resistance Regret and Resolve, the Markers of Repentance Last time, Mabit asserted the essential goal of teshuvah, finding our way to a restored relationship with Gd. This time he takes up the essential elements of teshuvah, haratah, regret, and azivat ha-het, the intention to refrain from this sin in the future. To regret what we fully intend ...

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Shofetim: Building and Defending a Just Society

by R. Gidon Rothstein From its start, Parshat Shofetim turns our attention to the steps needed to develop and sustain the kind of society Gd wants. The first words of the parsha start us off, shofetim ve-shoterim, the obligation to establish judges and enforcers. Justice in Israel and Out Ramban points out the verse, 16;18, speaks of such judges be-chol she’arecha, in all your gates. We ...

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The Purpose of Repentance

by R. Gidon Rothstein Mabit’s Sha’ar Ha-Teshuvah, Chapter One: The Purpose of Repentance Mabit is the acronym for R. Moshe b. Yosef di-Trani (1500-1580), for fifty five years the rabbi of Safed (while R. Yosef Karo, author of the Shulhan Aruch lived there; they had some well known disagreements. One was about the obligation to declare produce hefker, unowned, in a shemittah year, an issue I saw ...

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The People of Halachah

by R. Gidon Rothstein Part Two of Peri Megadim’s Petihah Kollelet: The People of Halachah I take piece by piece projects partially in the belief they bring us to a larger whole, we see a greater overall structure. In the case at hand, I think Peri Megadim’s list of those with halachic differences, each piece of which taught us much, combine to show he was looking ...

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Ekev: Gd, People, and Land

by R. Gidon Rothstein First Step of a Relationship with Gd: No Others One clear undercurrent of the parsha reminds the Jewish people to build a good relationship with Gd. It starts with rejecting any other forms of worship. Onkelos emphasizes the point, naming false gods differently than the Torah itself, 7;16. The Torah calls them eloheihem, their gods, using the same word ...

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Finishing the Second Part of the Petihah Kollelet

by R. Gidon Rothstein We have a few categories left in Peri Megadim’s list of unusual Jews, each treated briefly. Notably, he does not discuss the “ordinary” Jew, nor the differences between Kohanim, Levi’im, and Yisre’elim. It reminds me of the story of two younger fish who swim by an older one, the latter says “how’s the water today, boys?” After ...

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Va-Ethanan: The Road to Service of Gd

by R. Gidon Rothstein Punishment Comes, Although We Can Hope It Does Not Late in the parsha, 7;9, the Torah says Gd pays His enemies to their faces, to destroy them. Onkelos adds tavan di inun avdin, the good they have done, before destroying them. For evildoers, reward comes in this world, because Gd never fails to give all deserved reward. It contrasts ...

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Petihah Kollelet: Half Slaves and Tumtum

by R. Gidon Rothstein The category of the half-slave provides a good test case for many halachic issues, because the person is partially a Jew and partially a servant. One way this can happen is if partners own a servant together, and one frees him or her. The idea has inspired significantly more halachic discussion than I suspect it deserves in terms of frequency of ...

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Devarim: Finding New Forms of Leadership

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Devarim: Moshe Rabbenu and the People He Had to Lead Torah for the New Generation Ramban thinks the whole book was Moshe’s idea and initiative. He knew the new generation of Jews, none of whom had been twenty at the Giving of the Torah, needed to hear it from a living witness, so they could enter ...

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