Author Archives: Moshe Schapiro

Rabbi Moshe Schapiro is a reference librarian at the Mendel Gottesman Library of Yeshiva University. He has served as rabbi of the Synagogue on the Palisades in Fort Lee, NJ and as an adjunct professor for Jewish Studies in the Isaac Breuer College at Yeshiva University.

White Snow and Seven Thoughts

by R. Moshe Schapiro It’s that season again. Snow blankets the hills and the valleys. Or where I live, the streets and the sidewalks. Of course, snow is cold, but the most noticeable thing about snow is that it is white. In fact, if you want to emphasize how white something is, you would almost always say, “It’s as white ...

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Chanukah: Construction Jobs Always Take Longer Than Planned

by R. Moshe Schapiro What’s the Plan? Chanukah is so yesterday. Chanukah is a holiday rooted in memory and history, which begs the question – why do we care? Of course, there are important religious messages that emanate from Chanukah, but they don’t necessarily mandate a formal holiday. There are many events recounted in the Torah from which we derive ...

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Chanukah: The Power of the Present

by R. Moshe Schapiro We are missing a tense. The typical Jewish religious perspective pivots between two points: the past and the future. Every day we remember going out of Egypt and we pray for the final redemption. Throughout the year, on various holidays and special occasions, we painstakingly recount past events, both salvations and destructions. At the same time, ...

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Chanukah: Let’s Make It a Tradition

by R. Moshe Schapiro Defining Wisdom You can’t find something if you don’t know what you’re looking for. We all seek wisdom, but what is wisdom? The Mishnaic sage Ben Zoma formulated an answer to this question (Avot 4:1): “Who is wise? He who learns from every man.” Ben Zoma is teaching us that we should learn from everyone, even ...

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The Valley of the Donuts

by R. Moshe Schapiro From the Shelves of the Library: Every once in a while we receive a book in the library that is so unusual that I feel compelled to share it with the world. I am referring to the publication of Sefer Emek HaSufganim (lit. The Valley of the Donuts) by Rabbi Reuven Schwartz. You may be asking yourself, “Where ...

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Avraham and the Angel: A Question of Authority

by R. Moshe Schapiro The Angel of Hashem There is a jarring discrepancy in Bereshit Chapter 22, the story of Akeidat Yitzchak. In the opening verses God seems to command Avraham directly to slaughter his son: “And it was after these matters, that God tested Avraham, and said to him: ‘Avraham’; and he said, ‘Here I am.’ And He said, ...

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Just Saying

by R. Moshe Schapiro Say What? The Ten Commandments are introduced by the verse, ““Va-yedaber Elokim et kol ha-devarim ha-eleh lemor,” – “And God spoke all these matters, saying” (Shemot 20:1) a variation of the more common, “Va-yedaber Hashem el Moshe lemor” – “And Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying.” The problem in translating this ubiquitous verse is the redundancy of ...

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Spiritual Math V

by R. Moshe Schapiro The fifth and final installment in a series discussing the meaning of the phrase in Selichot “ve-lo shavah lanu.” Other installments can be found here. -ed > or < If we return one final time to the original definition of the Hebrew root “shavah,” meaning “equal” in the sense of “worth,” we can discern an additional intent ...

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Spiritual Math IV

by R. Moshe Schapiro The fourth in a five-part series discussing the meaning of the phrase in Selichot “ve-lo shavah lanu.” Other installments can be found here. -ed ≤ 0 If our spiritual trajectories have changed, and not necessarily for the better, we can suggest an additional interpretation of the phrase ve-lo shavah lanu, returning once again to the meaning of value or ...

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Spiritual Math III

by R. Moshe Schapiro The third in a five-part series discussing the meaning of the phrase in Selichot “ve-lo shavah lanu.” Other installments can be found here. -ed = ≠ The word “shavah” can also be defined as “unchanging” or “constant.” The scriptural basis for this definition is found in Mishlei 27:15, “delef tored be-yom sagrir ve-eshet midyanim nishtavah [from the Hebrew ...

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