Akedat Yitzchak

The Jewish People as the Engine of the World

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akeydat Yitzhak, Sha’ar Thirty-One Bringing Ya’akov to Egypt R. Arama starts the sha’ar with Midrash Shokher Tov’s quote of R. Yehuda, Ya’akov should have been brought down to Egypt in chains (for unclarified reasons), the incident with Yosef was a sort of favor by Hashem, a way to get him there more gently [the Midrash bothers ...

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A Good Defense of Binyamin Restores a Family

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akedat Yitzhak, Sha’ar Thirty, Part Two As always for R. Arama, after making the broad points about the righteous always feeling like immigrants in the world, as we saw last time, he turns to the parasha. Yosef Sets Up and Frames the Interaction Yosef was the one doling out grain to those who came to Egypt ...

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The Righteous Feel Like Immigrants

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akeydat Yitzhak, Sha’ar Thirty The Misdirection of Excessive Comfort The speaker in Tehillim 119; 19 says he is a ger, a stranger, in the Land, and then begs Hashem not to hide His mitzvot from him. R. Arama explains we generally share secrets and what we care about with those we see as equals. The Psalmist ...

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Yosef, Dreams, and Parshat Miketz

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akedat Yitzhak, Sha’ar Twenty-Nine, Second Part Getting Back to Yosef Yosef’s different interpretation of the butler and baker’s similar dreams shows R. Arama what we saw him say last time, Yosef focused on more than the content of the dream, took account of what he knew of the two men, their position with the king, what ...

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The Wisdom of Dreams

by R. Gidon Rothstein ‘Akedat Yitzhak, Sha’ar Twenty-Nine R. Arama dedicates this sha’ar to the insights given by the intellect or dreams on the one hand and prophecy on the other. Yosef tells Par’oh dream interpretation comes from Hashem, for R. Arama raising the question of how prophecy is any different. What light is shed by prophecy we cannot get ...

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Finding the Good in Yosef’s Brothers

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akedat Yitzhak, Sha’ar Twenty-Eight, Final Part Potiphar’s Wife and Jewish History In the name of space, I have skipped many examples of how R. Arama sees the Yosef story as a first version of later Jewish history. The incident with Potiphar’s wife can exemplify the rest. He says it shows how even after the harshest exile ...

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The Yosef Story as a Paradigm of Jewish History

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akedat Yitzhak, Sha’ar Twenty-Eight, Second Part R. Arama thinks many of the details of the Yosef story are placed there to tell us about the future, unneeded for the story itself. Our understanding of the story would not have suffered had the Torah told us only one of Par’oh’s dreams, for example, omitted the news of ...

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Human Freewill and the Course of History

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akedat Yitzhak, Sha’ar Twenty-Eight The tension between freewill and Divine foreknowledge has a long history in Jewish thought. In this sha’ar, R. Arama takes a position on a detail of the issue, Hashem’s plan for history does not force people into particular actions (history accommodates many versions, leaving people with choice about almost all their actions). He ...

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Hashem’s Ethics Are Not Always Ours

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akedat Yitzhak, Sha’ar Twenty-Seven, Part 2 The Exceptionalism of Learning from Hashem Directly R. Arama returns to his original analogy of a human being as a tree. Trees root in the ground, and their branches extend from their trunks. Humans generally must rely on their intellects to understand the world around them, to evaluate their choices, ...

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Character Follows Faith

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akedat Yitzhak, Sha’ar Twenty-Seven People of Torah values build their faith foundation first, then construct the content of their character, R. Arama intends this sha’ar to explain, in contrats to philosophers, who allow their intellectual examination of issues to shape their pre-exidsting character [an idea and issue certainly acute in our times, when many people assume ...

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