Akedat Yitzchak

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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Slips and Successes in Avraham’s Path

by R. Gidon Rothstein ‘Akedat Yitzchak, Finishing the Sixteenth Sha’ar Appreciating How Far Avraham Got R. Arama has been showing us Avraham’s lifelong path to better understanding of Hashem (including the remarkable idea he did not know of Hashem’s ability/willingness to change Nature until he was 86!). As far as he went, he did not ever learn ideas Ya’akov would ...

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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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The Rainbow and the Flood

by R. Gidon Rothstein R. Arama starts the fourteenth sha’ar with several statements from Chaza”l about how Jews should react upon seeing a rainbow, such as the blessing Berachot 59a prescribes to recite. As is his way, he will move off to other topics and work his way back here, but I wanted us to remember where he’s headed. The Impossibility of Divine Injustice From there, ...

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The Educating Plagues

by R. Gidon Rothstein After his long introduction, R. Arama addresses the verses in order, to show how his reading fits the way the Torah tells the story. I will try to avoid repetition, share only the points which strike me as new. It does mean I will jump around, skipping repeat or more minor points. Discontinuity is my fault, ...

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