Four Commentators

Keranot, Parochet, and Aron

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Terumah I find I’ve studied HaKtav VeHaKabbalah at greater length than our other commentators in previous weeks. Terumah gives me a chance to recalibrate a bit. Horns and Extensions The Torah calls the corners of the altar keranot, 27;2, a word that really means horns. HaKetav VeHaKabbalah says the word was expanded from its original ...

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The Physical and the Spiritual, for God and for Us

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Mishpatim Going Up to “See” God The end of Parshat Mishpatim has another version of the story of the Giving of the Torah, well worth comparing to the one we read last week. For our purposes here, three verses of the story can be taken on their own terms, Shemot 24;9-11. To a plain reading, ...

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Aseret Ha-Dibberot in the Hands of Four Commentators

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Yitro Although much of interest happens in Yitro, it also includes the Aseret Ha-Dibberot, the ten ideas Hashem chose to teach the Jewish people in the Revelation at Sinai. I thought we would benefit from focusing on those dibberot this year. Love of God Squeezes Out Worldly Desires The Torah’s prohibition to covet what belongs ...

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Complaining to Moshe and God

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Beshalach Protests Proper and Im The comment of HaKetav VeHaKabbalah we are about to study does not convince me. Rather, I think it worth considering it to see how assumptions can affect even our greatest Torah scholars, to heighten our alertness to our own propensity to see the world the way we want rather than ...

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The Road to Nationhood Runs Through the Oral Law

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Bo Chazal Vs. the Text Menachot 37 defines the proper place for head tefillin to be the top of the head (the soft spot on a baby’s skull), despite Shemot 13;15 having said “between your eyes.”  More, Megillah 24 had particularly harsh words for someone who wore their tefillin on their forehead, called it the ways of the Karaites, who mock/denigrate ...

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A Week of Corrections

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat VaEra Hey at the Beginning of a Word Par’oh’s reaction to the plague of hail gives HaKetav VeHaKabbalah, by R. Ya’akov Tzvi Mecklenburg, opportunities to adjust a reading of a word in consecutive verses. In 9;27, Par’oh summons Moshe and Aharon and concedes, chatati ha-pa’am, usually taken to mean ha-pa’am, this time, I have sinned. HaKetav VeHaKabbalah seems first bothered ...

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The World Is Not What We Think It Is

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Shemot: Four Commentators A New Meaning for Lamah When Moshe and Aharon first come to Par’oh with the request/demand to let the people serve Hashem in the desert, Par’oh questions lamah they seek to interrupt the people’s labors, 5;4. HaKetav VeHaKabbalah quotes Shemot Rabbah (I only found it in Tanchuma VaEra 6), where the Midrash asks what lamah is, and answers “you lamah, and your words lamah.” ...

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Paths to Success, Psychological and Cultural

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat VaYechi: Four Commentators Crying, the External Expression of Strong Emotion In verses three and eleven of chapter fifty, HaKetav VeHaKabbalah cites an interpretation of R. Solomon Pappenheim not in line with our usual one, with interesting results. Verse three uses the verb of bechi, crying, to describe the Egyptians’ reaction to Ya’akov’s death. R. Pappenheim relates the word ...

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Good, Bad, and How We Experience Them

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat VaYigash: Four Commentators The words and overall pessimism of Ya’akov’s response to Par’oh’s query about his age (more literally, how many are the years of his life), 47;9, troubles HaKetav VeHaKabbalah. First, the words. Ya’akov seems to say he has lived 130 years, calling them days of the years of megurai, usually translated as my wanderings. He ...

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Some Identity Issues

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Miketz The brothers protest their innocence when Yosef’s household supervisor accuses them of stealing his goblet, as we would expect. In response, 43;10, he uses a phrase challenging to translate: gam atah kedivreichem ken hu, something along the lines of “also now as your words, so it is.” Gam often means also, but also “although,” the way the JPS ...

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