Four Commentators

The Nation Finds Itself, in Fits and Starts

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Chukat The last decade of world history (plus other eras as well) show how hard it can be for a group of disparate people to come together around common goals. Our commentators’ ideas for Parshat Chukat remind us of some of the stumbling blocks along the way to the goal, fighting for what unifies our ...

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Special People and How to Treat Them

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Korach We live in a culture that resists/rejects specialness, where we want everyone to be special in their own way. But, to paraphrase Syndrome, when everyone is special, no one is. Korach, where he and his gang tried to deny the specialness of Aharon, is a parsha where we are reminded some people are different, ...

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The Sin of the Spies Almost Kills Us, Delays Our Observance of Challah

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Shelach What I Should Be Doing, But Won’t I started looking at HaKetav VeHaKabbalah to learn from R. Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenburg’s reconciliations of Chazal’s reading of the text with the peshat, or plainsense, one. By that standard, we should be studying his first comment to Bamidbar 15;18. Chazal read the word be-vo’achem, when you arrive, ...

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Moshe, Success or Failure?

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat BeHa’alotecha Moshe’s Extraordinary Comfort In the course of the rebuke to Miriam and Aharon for their slander of their brother, Hashem declares Moshe to be be-chol beiti ne’eman, the most faithful (or trusted) in all My house, 12;7. R. Yaakov Zvi Mecklenburg accepts the general view, the phrase means Moshe was like a trusted friend, ...

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Ways to Achieve Status of Real Worth

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Bamidbar The Showbread Table The end of Parshat Bamidbar describes the process of readying the Mishkan for travel, whenever the Cloud of Glory would rise to move. Among the steps, the Levi’im are told to spread a begged techelet, a blue cloth, on the Shulchan ha-Panim, 4;7. Whether that phrase should be capitalized (my Autocorrect ...

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How We Decide on Gifts, How We Bring Punishments

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Bechukotai When the Torah refers to ma’aser, a tithe, 27;30, Rashi tells us it means ma’aser sheni, the second tenth of a harvest (after terumah, given to a kohen, and ma’aser, given to a Levi) taken in years one, two, four, and five of the shemittah cycle, to be brought to Jerusalem and eaten there ...

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We Don’t Always Decide Who We Are

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Behar Do Not Free an Eved Kena’ani I chose the comment from HaKetav VeHaKabbalah for this parsha because it dovetails with other learning of mine, although it is not a full idea. Chapter 25, 44-46 introduces eved Kena’ani, a non-Jew in servitude to a Jew. [I avoid “slave” because of its English connotations, given the ...

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Finding Sanctity

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Emor Three of the four comments I found for this time address how we bring kedushah into the world. While we usually translate the word along the lines of “sanctity’” let’s see how well these comments fit the definition. The first, HaKetav VeHaKabbalah’s comment to 24;21, focuses on another topic I have long thought underrecognized, ...

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What Is Kedushah, Anyway?

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Kedoshim Agreement of Tradition and Scripture I really should not be presenting HaKetav VeHaKabbalah’s reading of 20;19, because he focuses on female anatomy and the physical aspects of the act of sexual relations, topics I am not confident I can discuss appropriately for a venue such as this. I can’t fully resist, though, because his ...

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Body, Soul, and How We Put them Together

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Acharei Mot The Torah introduces the list of prohibited liaisons with a general verse, 18;6, banning a man from approaching any she’er besaro, close relative, to uncover nakedness, a way to refer to the essential marital act. HaKetav VeHaKabbalah records Rambam’s reason, from Moreh Nevuchim, for why the Torah prohibited these relationships, even within marriage, ...

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