Akedat Yitzchak

Why People Circumcise Themselves, and the Benefits They Gain

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akedat Yitzchak, Eighteenth Sha’ar, Second Part Humans Should Take the World to Its Next Level Tanchuma Tazria records a conversation between Turnus Rufus (a Roman officer) and R. Akiva. However they get there, R. Akiva ends up telling Turnus Rufus the foreskin cut off during circumcision is excess (R. Arama compared it to hair or fingernails, body ...

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People as the Purpose of Creation

by R. Gidon Rothstein ‘Akedat Yitzchak , Eighteenth Sha’ar People as the Purpose of Creation R. Arama says this sha’ar will explain the purpose of creation, then adds asher navochu bo rabim, which has confused many. He will also explain how milah, circumcision, completes man’s perfection. In support of the point, he opens with Nedarim 31b-32a, where a string oftannaim speak of the greatness of circumcision. ...

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Avraham Makes Strides to Understanding and Excellence

by R. Gidon Rothstein Seventeenth Sha’ar, Second Part Avraham’s Path Starts with Generosity Avraham starts with generosity, the trait R. Arama identified last time as a building block for many other positive traits. R. Arama notes Avraham’s treatment of Lot and the king of Sodom, without elaborating. I think he means he lets Lot choose whichever part of Israel he ...

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The Traits of Perfection Are Inextricably Intertwined

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akedat Yitzchak, Seventeenth Sha’ar, First Part All or Nothing Perfection R. Arama tells us he plans to make two points in the seventeenth sha’ar. First, admirable qualities are not separate from mitzvot, and, second, Avraham was shown the spiritual rewards for goodness, which became part of his belief in Hashem. The Midrash he cites to start ...

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Avraham’s Long Path to Knowledge of Hashem

by R. Gidon Rothstein Avraham’s Non-Traditional Path Noach was good, Avraham was better [one strand of traditional thought assumes—I personally feel Noach deserves more respect, but we’re here to learn from R. Arama]. Noach followed tradition as given him, without advancing it. Avraham, who had no tradition (his ancestors were idolaters), had to reason his way past the erroneous ideas ...

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Two Kinds of Knowledge of Hashem, Their Advantages and Disadvantages

by R. Gidon Rothstein R. Arama introduces his readings of sections of the Torah with long theoretical discussions. Those have often been rich enough to make his textual readings of the actual parsha almost redundant, and I have often taken only snippets. In this sha’ar, R. Arama offers a rich reading of Avraham’s development in his belief in Gd, leading us to follow ...

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The People Who Make the Miracles

by R. Gidon Rothstein Finishing the Fifteenth Sha’ar Last time, we saw R. Arama argue Hashem created a Nature which can react to more than the purely physical, with people playing a role in which tract Nature follows, the ordinary or the spiritually sensitive. Bereshit Rabbah 8 reads the point into what Hashem tells Noach after the Flood. Hashem’s promise of ...

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Nature Includes Miracles

by R. Gidon Rothstein R. Arama summarizes the fifteenth sha’ar with a proposition whose importance I have found increasingly clear in the past few years, Nature includes miracles [this is the reverse of the rationalist idea everything which looks miraculous to us is actually natural; it means Nature includes much more than the ordinary patterns we see, including things we would dismiss as ...

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Hashem Keeps the World Going and Sets People on Their Path

by R. Gidon Rothstein Hashem’s Reciprocity and the Rainbow Last time, we saw R. Arama argue the Flood had taught humanity a permanent lesson, Hashem has the power to punish severely. In return for people always remembering Hashem’s power to punish, and because humanity has three different offshoots, Hashem promises never to destroy them all at the same time. R. ...

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