Rav Gidon

Peace, Perishut, and Peshat

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Naso Kli Yakar’s comment to Bamidbar 7;12 looks back to the end of chapter six, where the Torah taught the kohanim the blessing to administer daily on Hashem’s behalf. Those end with the promise of God giving us peace, a value Kli Yakar extolls and wishes to show is expressed in the gifts the nesi’im, the heads of the tribes, brought to ...

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The Kohanim’s Blessing

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Naso We pretty much all know the basic routine for the priestly blessing (which we often call duchanen, I think because it usually involved kohanim ascending to a platform in front of the congregation; it is also called nesi’at kappayim, lifting of the hands, because they raise their hands over their heads when saying it), and it all seems to be de-oraita. ...

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Leadership of the People Earned and Lost

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Bamidbar In chapter three of our new sefer, Hashem has Moshe designate the Levi’im to serve in the Mishkan, under Aharon’s direction. In verses twelve to thirteen, Hashem clarifies they are being taken in place of the first-born, who “belonged” to Hashem since they were spared in Egypt, in the plague of the first-born. Still later, ...

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Carrying the Aron on Our Shoulders

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Bamidbar Rambam and Ramban debate the nature of our mitzvah, forcing Sefer HaChinukh to take sides (Ramban was his direct teacher, while he built his whole book on Rambam’s count, as we have seen). Rambam’s Mitzvah—Kohanim Carry the Ark Rambam says Obligation 34 requires kohanim to carry the Aron, the Ark of the Covenant, on their shoulders, whenever there is need to ...

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Ways Out of and Into Security, Financial and Military

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Behar Consequences of Shemitta Starting at VaYikra 25;25, the Torah has rules for events we might see as unrelated, a Jew who sells ancestral lands, takes a loan at interest, sells himself into servitude to a Jew or a non-Jew. Kli Yakar points us to Sukka 40b, where Chazal connected this section to an earlier one about shemitta and yovel. They said the Torah was warning against buying and ...

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To Count Seven Shabbatot of Years

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Behar Parshat Behar opens with the obligation of shemitta, seven of which produce a yovel, a jubilee year. Rambam includes in the six hundred thirteen mitzvot one to count the years of each shemitta and of the seven shemitot to reach the yovel, much as we are currently counting the days and weeks from the Omer up until Shavuot. The Great Sanhedrin are the ones obligated, he ...

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What’s Inside Will Come Out

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Emor The end of the parsha, 24;10, tells the tragic story of a man, the product of a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father, who gets into a fight and “blesses” God. Character Will Out: Prone to Fighting Kli Yakar claims the verse withholds the names of either party to the fight because both were too quick ...

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A Kohen May Not Marry a Divorcee

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Emor When I lived on the West Side of Manhattan, one of the rabbis remarked on the attraction divorcees had for kohanim, how often he was confronted with a couple where the woman had been divorced and the man was a kohen. A pairing the Torah prohibits in this week’s parsha. This is one of those mitzvot we certainly don’t understand ...

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To Cover the Blood of Birds and Chayyot

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Acharei Mot As we race through VaYikra with double parashiyyot (three in four weeks!), I am trying to cover mitzvot well and yet briefly enough to read two on those weeks. For Acharei Mot, let’s look at the obligation to cover the blood of birds and chayyot (kosher non-domesticated animals, like deer). Rambam’s Obligation 147 makes it fairly simple, VaYikra 17;13 says we must cover the ...

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