Akedat Yitzchak

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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Ya’akov’s Efforts with Esav

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akedat Yitzhak, Finishing Sha’ar Twenty-Six Point of interest to me, I hope to you: Last year, we were finishing the sixth sha’ar of Akedat Yitzhak on 2 Tevet, so we did just about exactly twenty she’arim this year. Given the 104 she’arim in the book, I think with only four more years, we will have studied ...

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Balancing Human Effort and Divine Intervention

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akedat Yitzhak, Sha’ar Twenty-Six R. Arama says the sha’ar will discuss how far we have to go in our personal efforts to secure what we find productive and fend off what is damaging. Lack in such effort (aside from reducing the odds life will go as we want) also leads to less Providence for a person. ...

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Ya’akov Also Works for His Goals

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akedat Yitzhak, Sha’ar 25, Part Three A Digression on Laziness To describe Ya’akov’s leaving where he had the dream, the Torah says va-yisa Ya’akov raglav, Ya’akov picked up his legs. R. Arama relates it to the Midrash’s comment about Shemot 15;22, where Moshe leads the people away from Yam Suf. As Mekhilta said about the Jews ...

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Va-Yishlah: Lessons of NonLiteral Onkelos

by R. Gidon Rothstein Who’s Afraid of Angels? I have commented on Onkelos’ mixed approach to the metaphysical, sometimes seeing the supernatural where the verse did not require it, other times tamping down the metaphysical, finding a way to avoid ascribing some action or incident to Hashem. Our parsha gives a few examples I think add to our understanding. The ...

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