Unity in Leadership, Prophecy, and Wisdom

by R. Gidon Rothstein Drasha 8 Part 2 How unified a leadership do we want? In democracies, we like checks and balances, diversity and multiplicity of opinion, to avoid getting trapped in one mode of thought. Ran assumes the opposite, that one leader is best. This shapes how he views the process of the elders joining Moshe Rabbenu’s leadership team. ...

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Moshe, Prophecy Catalyst

by R. Gidon Rothstein Drasha 8 Part 1 Does Hashem have to say please? In the eighth drasha, Ran is puzzled that Hashem begins with the word “please” his rebuke of Miriam and Aharon for their criticizing Moshe’s separation from his wife. Miriam and Aharon thought that since they maintained healthy married lives, why couldn’t Moshe do the same? Prior ...

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How to Get to the Times of Mashiach

by R. Gidon Rothstein Bringing Mashiach and Universal Recognition of Hashem into the Picture Ran’s final point in this Drasha changes everything. It is a startling worldview that redefines the purpose of Jewish law and gives us insight to the intellectual challenges his community was facing at the time, which remain remarkably relevant today. Prior essays in this series Having ...

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Why Would Ran Recycle a Whole Drasha?

by R. Gidon Rothstein In the seventh Drasha, Ran repeats much material; indeed, almost the whole Drasha has appeared before (mostly in the alternate version of the fifth Drasha, as discussed here). By paying careful attention to what is different, I think we can discover his true message in this Drasha. Is Touchiness a Flaw in Torah Scholars? Prior essays ...

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If You’re Only Going to Do One…

by R. Gidon Rothstein The juiciest nuggets often come in the digressions in a lecture. Having discussed the two substantive parts of the sixth drasha, let’s look at the fascinating way in which Ran opens the talk. It’s a complete digression, bearing no clear connection to the rest, except that it’s building off of another point made by the verses ...

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The Ease of Teshuvah: Encouraging or Upsetting?

by R. Gidon Rothstein If Ran has convinced us that we need to focus on the religious as well as the physical in hoping to avoid calamity, we need a better understanding of the main method of healing religious ills, teshuvah, repentance.  Much of the sixth drasha exhorts, encourages, and reassures his listeners that they can in fact take advantage ...

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The Best Approach to Adversity

by R. Gidon Rothstein In this striking drasha, Ran urges his listeners to rethink their whole approach to illness.  His points apply equally to us and, sadly, might feel as foreign to us as to his original audience. This is another example of how we make progress in some areas of life, such as technology, but progress slowly, if at ...

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Just the Sources, Sir

by R. Gidon Rothstein Does misuse of sources matter? I ask because I meet many Jews today who seem indifferent to it. I don’t mean homiletic or kabbalistic readings, which would require a separate discussion. It is my experience that learned people today both offer and let pass without comment legal and/or theological readings of texts that cannot stand up ...

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Moving From Prophecy to Law

Until now, I’ve presented Ran’s Derashot in pieces. That allowed us to see more of the many topics Ran takes up in each Drasha, but it also chops up what was originally a continuous presentation. Especially given Ran’s digressive style, we can lose the forest for the trees. This is so true of the Drasha we’re up to that I ...

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A More Flexible Future Orthodoxy

A More Flexible Future Orthodoxy: The Case of Chametz by R. Gidon Rothstein One of the bedeviling questions for Orthodox Jews is how and when our religion can change. We know that some of the changes in culture, society, and the flow of history must wash over us, while we cling faithfully to our Rock, refusing to be swept away. ...

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