Derashos HaRan

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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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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How to Have Good Children

One of the recurring foci of Ran’s Derashot is the relationship between the natural and supernatural worlds. In this second part of the fifth Drasha, he points to the heart as the crucial center of the body. It links our intellects and more physical sides, playing a role in our natural and supernatural involvements. As such, what we do with ...

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Why Is Humanity Here? How Do We Know?

One of the central questions we’ve been working to answer is Ran’s overall goal in these Drashot. This Drasha gives us a big clue, because Ran repeats discussions he’s already shared. I suggest he was trying to draw his listeners/readers in a surprising, perhaps challenging direction. By giving us what we are already used to, he can slip in another ...

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When May We Tamper with the World?

Dichotomies are tidy and self-contained, but the world isn’t. Ran has been showing us some differences between when Hashem intervenes in the world and when Hashem leaves it to the stars or its natural forces. As the Derasha continues, he’s going to point to other elements that complicate the picture. An Angel Somewhere Between Nature and Hashem The original time ...

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Divine and Natural, Their Differing Roles

Living in Hashem’s Presence is dangerous but beneficial, which is why He gave us a powerful tool for survival. Last time, Ran reminded us that Hashem’s direct guidance could lead to our being wiped out. At the same time, only Hashem can decide to forgive our transgressions and refrain from administering punishment. That would mean that if Moshe could guarantee ...

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Hashem’s Direct and Indirect Influence

Derashot haRan, I’ve been suggesting in these columns, is Ran’s sustained attempt to analyze the balance between the world following its course and Hashem actively intervening. This fourth Derasha is going to grapple with those issues even more explicitly than the previous ones. In this series * 1: Drasha 1: Communities, Combination and Creation * 2: Drasha 1: What Science ...

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Embracing the Metaphysics in the First Mitzvot of the Torah

Seeing is believing but the most powerful forces are often unseen, hidden. The metaphysical, Ran teaches, is more powerful than the physical. In the last piece of the third Drasha , Ran discusses the mitzvot Moshe and Aharon were taught in Parashat haChodesh (Shemot 12). In line with themes we’ve seen before and will again, Ran portrays these as emblematic ...

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