Putting the World Aright

by R. Gidon Rothstein Last time, we closed with R. Arama’s telling us we should love and want good outcomes, oppose and object to bad outcomes and those who would bring them. In his view, Ya’akov and Rahel acted to support what needed to happen, and therefore acted appropriately. A Restored Meritocracy R. Arama reads the idea into Tehillim 24 ...

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Lekh-Lekha: Lessons of NonLiteral Onkelos

by R. Gidon Rothstein Torah Is More Than a Book When Avraham accedes to Hashem’s command to go to Canaan, verse 12;5 tells us he and Sarah took “ha-nefesh asher asu be-Haran,” literally the souls they made in Haran. As Rashi points out in his second interpretation, the simplest sense of the text reads the phrase as referring to their ...

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Taking What Needs to Be Taken

by R. Gidon Rothstein ‘Akedat Yitzhak, Sha’ar Twenty-Three,Second Part (Parshat Toledot) Last time, R. Arama offered an allegory to explain the world was created without any intent for one people to be elevated over any other. Then Avraham outstripped all who had gone before him and all of his generation in the work of establishing and sanctifying Hashem’s Name in ...

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Noah: Lessons of NonLiteral Onkelos

by R. Gidon Rothstein What It Means To Walk With Gd The last of the encomia for Noah in the first verse of the parasha (6;9) says et ha-Elokim hithalekh Noah, often and most simply translated as “Noah walked with Gd.” (It’s not a problem free translation, because the verse uses et instead of im for with, and hithalekh, the ...

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Betraying a Brother Can Never Be Casual

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akedat Yitzhak, Sha’ar 23 (Parshat Toledot) Stealing the Birthright Parshat Toledot begins with an incident putting Ya’akov in a seemingly bad light, where he takes advantage of Esav’s exhaustion to extract the rights of the first-born. R. Arama tells us he will discuss the norms of brotherhood, the problems with deceit and trickery, to then show how ...

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Bereshit: Lessons of NonLiteral Onkelos

by R. Gidon Rothstein With the new year’s Torah reading, and the book I am writing on the responsa we had been studying in this space moving along, I have chosen to start a new series, a first foray into Onkelos. Let’s remember Berakhot 8a tells us Jews are supposed to read each Torah portion twice in the original and ...

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Are We Doing Converts A Favor?

by R. Gidon Rothstein 25 Elul: R. Herzog on Whether We Are Doing Converts a Favor The 25th of Elul is the anniversary of a responsum R. Yitzchak Herzog wrote (Heichal Yitzchak Even haEzer 1;20) whose topic was conversion, with ramifications for our looming confrontation with Gd on the High Holidays, the Yamim Nora’im. The question is about a Jewish man who had lived for ...

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How Eliezer Found Yitzchak the Right Wife

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akeydat Yitzchak, Sha’ar 22, Third Part We’ve come to the section of the sha’ar where R. Arama asks questions about the parsha and answers them. He opens with Bereshit Rabbah 58, where R. Kahana wonders at Kohelet’s feeling the need to point out the obvious truth the sun rises and sets. Flow of the World, Flow ...

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