Akedat Yitzchak

Knowledge, Human, Angelic, and Divine

by R. Gidon Rothstein R. Arama’s opening source for the tenth sha’ar, Bamidbar Rabbah 19, shows Adam to have had a type of knowledge angels do not. The Midrash says the angels resisted the suggestion of creating human beings, seeing nothing they would add to the universe. Hashem rebuffs their concerns by showing Adam has a greater wisdom, since he was able to ...

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The Serpent, Without, Within, and Sin

by R. Gidon Rothstein This morning I attended the funeral of my father’s cousin’s husband, who was much more of an uncle to me than a cousin. Fred Gross, a distinguished mathematician at University of Maryland Baltimore County and Naval Research Labs (before his retirement), passed away on Shabbat. He and his wife, tibadel le-chayyim tovim, Miriam, were warm and ...

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Marriage, Where Like Meets Like

by R. Gidon Rothstein Last time, R. Arama argued the Gemara treated the pairing of body and spirit as a first “marriage.” What we commonly call marriage he thought the Gemara referred to as a zivug sheini, a second pairing, which is arranged according to people’s merits and is therefore as hard as splitting the Sea. In this part of the sha’ar, ...

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The First Marriage, and Marriage Generally

by R. Gidon Rothstein R. Arama opens the eighth sha’ar with a Talmudic passage I often see and hear misquoted (although his reading will justify the use of it I am about to share). Sotah 2a contrasts a statement of Rabbah bar bar Chanah in the name of R. Yochanan, who said matching husbands and wives was as difficult for Hashem as splitting the ...

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How the Tree of Knowledge Brings Death

by R. Gidon Rothstein Finishing the Seventh Sha’ar of ‘Akedat Yitzchak: How the Tree of Knowledge Brings Death Last time, we saw the beginnings of R. Arama’s view of the Tree of Knowledge, what it provided and its proper role. Before he returns to the Tree and its dangers, he finishes his view of the elements of the Garden. The Four Rivers Bereshit 2;10 ...

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History Which Educates

by R. Gidon Rothstein The Plain Meaning Also Counts R. Arama tells us he will dedicate the seventh sha’ar to how the stories of the Garden of Eden and its tree and rivers teach about human beings, our essence, powers, abilities, and various actions. Before he takes up the issue, he pauses to awaken us to a truth he says our sleeping ...

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From Freewill to Prophecy to Eternal Life

by R. Gidon Rothstein ‘Akedat Yitzchak, Finishing the Sixth Sha’ar We interrupted our usual studies to look at Chanukkah in ‘Akedat Yitzchak last week. We were in the middle of sixth sha’ar. R. Arama was looking into the nature of the human soul, which sets people apart from the animals. The better we understand the human soul, the more we will know ...

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Chanukah in Akedat Yitzchak

by R. Gidon Rothstein ‘Akedat Yitzchak intends to be a commentary on the Torah. Since I here focus on his ideas, I often leave out the interpretational element, especially since it would take much longer to explain—we would have to read the verses carefully together, to see how R. Arama fit his ideas and philosophy into the words of the Torah’s ...

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Taking on the Human Soul

by R. Gidon Rothstein Ends and Effort R. Arama intends the sixth sha’ar to discuss the nature of the human soul. He starts with the connection between understanding the value of an act and the effort we put into it. Anywhere we cannot see the purpose of an act—a failing to which we are all prone, he says, since we are not ...

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