To Redeem a First Born

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Bamidbar has no mitzvot in Sefer Ha-Hinuch, so She’iltot will open the door for us. Probably because this parsha has the replacement of the first-born by the Levi’im, he records the mitzvah of pidyon ha-ben, redeeming human first-born. It fits nicely with last time, when we looked at ma’aser behemah, some of whose rules were derived from verses about bechor behemah, first-born animals. Aruch Ha-Shulhan Yoreh De’ah 305;1 gives ...

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Ma’aser Behemah Draws Us To Jerusalem’s Torah, If We Want It To

by R. Gidon Rothstein A Mitzvah Suspended Only oxen, goats, and sheep may be offered as sacrifices, Sefer Ha-Hinuch 309 points out. For the purposes of the mitzvah of tithing newborn animals, goats and sheep are interchangeable (they can be tithed together), since the Torah refers to either as tzon (a word translated as “sheep,” not to be confused with sheep sheep). The end ...

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The Prohibition of Sefihin During a Shemittah Year

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Behar: The Prohibition of Sefihin During a Shemittah Year The Land of Israel observes shemittah this year, bringing another round of all the unfortunate battles of how best to handle its laws when Jewish agriculture has, thank God, returned to Israel. Here, I will take up just one element of shemittah, where its Torah law status is debated (there are three other mitzvot regarding shemittah in this ...

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Kohanim Becoming Tamei for Deceased Relatives

by R. Gidon Rothstein The beginning of Parshat Emor prohibits kohanim from becoming tamei, ritually impure, by contact with those who have passed away. In the next verses, the Torah carves out an important exception, obligates every kohen to become tamei should any of his close relatives pass away, “close” defined as parents, spouse(s), siblings, or children. (Minhat Hinuch wonders whether the idea applies to others who are prohibited from ...

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Prohibited Sexual Relationships

by R. Gidon Rothstein (Editor’s note: Due to my confusion around the holiday and the disconnect between Israeli and Diaspora Torah readings, this should have been posted during Chol HaMo’ed. I am posting it now to catch up. Going forward, R. Rothstein’s articles will follow the Israeli Torah reading while my Divrei Torah and R. Safran’s articles will follow the ...

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Fearing Our Parents

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Kedoshim: Fearing Our Parents Parenting styles change, and nothing I write here means to imply the Torah thought parent/child relationships should lack warmth or love. At the same time, the Torah assumes an element of the relationship many today do not recognize (or might even reject, Gd forbid). Fear or Awe? The word yir’ah usually means fear; ...

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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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