Path Lighting to Piety

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Aharei Mot: Path Lighting to Piety Three Suggestions About the Impact of the Death of the Righteous The beginning of our parsha lays out the Yom Kippur service. The introductory verse of the passage (16;1) makes a point of Gd having told Moshe these laws after the deaths of Nadav and Avihu. Yerushalmi Yoma says the verse linked them ...

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Helping the Metzora Overcome Poor Choices

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Metzora: Helping the Metzora Overcome Poor Choices Avoiding Tzara’at Is In Our Hands Parshat Metzora starts with the ceremony to mark the departure of a lesion from a person, allowing that person to return to full social and sanctity involvement. The Torah, 14;4, lists items the kohen will order to be taken on behalf of the mitaher, the one becoming tahor. R. Aha inMidrash Rabbah16;8 ...

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The Separation and Inclusion of the Metzora

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Tazria: The Separation and Inclusion of the Metzora Parashiyyot Tazria and Metzora deal with issues we do not have at all today, as are the Biblical mitzvot in them. [If we continue this series beyond this year—and feel free to weigh in on whether you want to see it continue], I can look to find more “relevant” ones.] For this year, ...

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Some Dangers of Thinking Wrongly

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Tzav: Some Dangers of Thinking Wrongly The Looming Threat of Heresy Chapter six of Va-Yikra speaks of olot, burnt offerings, menahot, flour offerings, and later in the chapter gets to hatat, the sin offering. Only some of the flour of menahot goes on the altar, 6;9 says Aharon and his sons will eat the rest. For the hatat, verse nineteen, the Torah instead says ...

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The Prohibition Against Eating Helev

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Tzav: The Prohibition Against Eating Helev Not Eating Helev, The Basic Prohibition Three consecutive verses discuss the prohibition of helev, certain fats. 7;23 articulates the prohibition of eating such fats from oxen, sheep, or goats. (Both Minhat Hinuch and Aruch Ha-Shulhan note this really means all kosher behemot, because there are no other types.) Verse 24 tells us we may use but not eat the helev of any of ...

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The Mitzvah to Testify

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Va-Yikra: The Mitzvah to Testify The 613 mitzvot are more symbolic than practical, as the count depends on technical rules Rambam lays out, with many Biblical obligations not meeting the criteria despite being fully Biblical. Still, there are only 613 of those; even add the ones other authors added (such as Ramban or Semag), we don’t hit ...

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Responding to Times of Trouble as a Biblical Commandment

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Pekudei: Responding to Times of Trouble as a Biblical Commandment Sefer Ha-Hinuch has no mitzvot for Parshat Pekudei, so we rely on R. Ahai Gaon’s She’iltot, because he has at least one per parsha. She’ilta 66 says the Jewish people are obligated to hold a fast day and be me’aneh their souls in times of trouble (the phrase comes from the Torah’s rules for Yom Kippur—we ...

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Not Putting Criminals to Death on Shabbat

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Va-Yakhel: Not Putting Criminals to Death on Shabbat Sefer Ha-Hinuch has only one mitzvah for Parshat Va-Yakhel, a prohibition against a court carrying out the death penalty on Shabbat. The Torah’s “wasting” one of the 613 on such a specific detail suggests this prohibition has an important message, although I avoid delving into such theological issues in this venue [in brief, I think whatever ...

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Meat and Milk, Cooking and Benefitting

by R. Gidon Rothstein Ki Tissa: Meat and Milk, Cooking and Benefitting The Torah’s prohibition of meat and milk shapes our experience of kashrut—it led to Jews’ two sets of dishes (and, recently, dishwashers, and even ovens or microwaves), separate restaurants for dairy or meat, and the concern (a near-phobia in my family) with “being fleishig,” getting oneself into a state of ...

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