Making Sure It Isn’t Too Good to be King

by R. Gidon Rothstein Drasha 11, part 2 Kings are there to make society work, according to Ran, because courts aren’t there for that purpose.  Instead of seeing the courts as a competing social institution to the king, Ran saw them as fulfilling a different function entirely. The Jewish king was largely the same as non-Jewish ones, which is why the ...

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Courts Aren’t To Keep Society Running

by R. Gidon Rothstein Drasha 11, part 1 Most of us think the purpose of courts is to adjudicate citizens’ disputes and punish evildoers. Devarim 16:18 tells us to appoint people who will judge משפט צדק, righteous judgment. Ran points out that the next verse prohibits perverting justice, so “righteous judgment” must mean something else. For Rashi, it’s selecting judges ...

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Confidently Opposed to Arrogance

by R. Gidon Rothstein I hold this truth to be Jewishly self-evident, that arrogance is worse than other poor character traits; that it constitutes so fundamental a flaw as to disqualify the unrepentantly arrogant from leadership in the Jewish community. Join me in four steps to show that that captures the mainstream view of Jewish tradition: Step One: I offer ...

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The Sad Truth That Troubles Focus Us Better

by R. Gidon Rothstein Drasha 10 Part 3 Moshe Rabbenu sparked Ran’s interest by referring to fear of Hashem as if it is easy to achieve. Ran’s first step in explaining that is to show that we all have a thoughtful side, which sees the world as it should, recognizes that we should aim to what’s ultimately true, Hashem and ...

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Why It’s Easy to Fear Hashem; And Why It’s Hard

by R. Gidon Rothstein Drasha 10 Part 2 Fear of God, Devarim 10:12 implies, is simple. Forget that we find it hard. Ran adduces verses (such as Bereshit 8:21, כי יצר לב האדם רע מנעוריו, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from its youth) and Talmudic texts (such as Kiddushin 30b, that a person’s baser inclinations renew ...

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Get Ready to Hear What Hashem Wants of Us

by R. Gidon Rothstein Drasha 10 Part 1 Ran opens the tenth Drasha with Devarim 10:12 (this Drasha seems to have been first delivered on Parashat Ekev, 1361). The verse wonders, loosely, “Now, Israel, what does Hashem ask of you other than to fear Hashem, follow all His ways, love Him, and to serve Hashem with all your heart and ...

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When Logical Is Still Wrong

by R. Gidon Rothstein Drasha 9 Part 3 Teshuvah is impossible without recognition of Hashem’s continuing interest in and involvement with the world. Ran assumes people in the time of the Torah doubted this, as do some or many of his listeners. Today, too, people insist the world almost always runs according to the laws of nature, without Hashem’s providence. ...

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The Key To Teshuvah: Accepting Reponsibility

by R. Gidon Rothstein Drasha 9 Part 2 Ran is encouraging his audience to believe in the possibility of healing repentance, as we saw last time. In this part of the drasha, he points to two components of that repentance, having to do with how we see ourselves and how we see Hashem. Aside from helping with teshuvah, repentance, they ...

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The Needs of the Many Outweigh the Needs of the One

by R. Gidon Rothstein Drasha 9 Part 1 The community matters, even more than its leader. The ninth of Ran’s Drashot focuses on passages in Parshat VaEtchanan. Hestarts with Devarim 3:23-26, where Moshe Rabbenu tells the Jewish people of Hashem’s refusal to allow him to enter the Land of Israel. At the same time, the drasha continues themes Ran has ...

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Overcoming Nature or Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

by R. Gidon Rothstein Drasha 8 Part 3 With Moshe there for the rebuke of Aharon and Miriam, people might think Moshe’s feelings had led to Miriam’s leprosy.  Hashem has the Torah speak of Moshe’s humility to make clear that’s not what happened, but the possibility leads Ran to a discussion of what’s inherent to us, such as the possibility ...

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