Meshech Chochmah

Non-Jews and Torah

by R. Gidon Rothstein Meshech Hochmah to Ve-Zot Ha-Beracha Offering the Torah to Non-Jews Devarim 33;2 speaks of God “shining from Se’ir,” a verse Sifrei thought implied the famous story of God offering the Torah to non-Jews. In the Midrash, the people of Esav rejected the Torah when they were told it says not to murder, because murder was too essential to their character. The same ...

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Three Guideposts for Best Lives

by R. Gidon Rothstein Meshech Hochmah has two extended comments in Ha’azinu on 32;3, ki shem Hashem ekra, when I call out in the Name of God, havu godel L-Elokenu, give greatness to our God. The Gemara cites the verse as the source for birkat ha-Torah, making a beracha before Torah study (according to Ramban, it is the legal source for the Biblical obligation) and for zimmun, three Jews ...

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Connecting to Torah Through Leaders and Ceremonies

by R. Gidon Rothstein Yehoshu’a’s Model of Leadership Moshe tells Yehoshu’a he will lead the Jews into Israel, 31;7, using the verb form tavo et, most literally “will come with.” In verse 23, he again charges Yehoshu’a, this time tavi, you will bring. Rashi cited R. Yohanan in Sanhedrin 8a, who inferred a change between the two verses. Moshe had assumed Yehoshu’a would lead ...

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Warnings to Help Us Stay in the Fold of God’s Service

by R. Gidon Rothstein While reminding the Jewish people they are entering a covenant with God, Moshe Rabbenu worries there might be among them some thinking “I will be safe when I follow my willful heart,” 29;18. Admitting he is explaining derech derash, in a more homiletical way [more likely reacting to issues of his time], Meshech Hochmah starts off with Sifrei’s reading of Devarim 11;15. ...

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Money Isn’t the Only Way to Happiness

by R. Gidon Rothstein Meshech Hochmah comments twice on 26;11, with no break to clarify whether he meant to connect them. To explain the Torah’s reference to you and beitecha, your household, rejoicing in all the good Hashem will give, he repeats the Gemara’s assumption the word refers to a man’s wife, the centerpiece of his household and life. He knows a ...

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Removing Evil, Or Not

by R. Gidon Rothstein Only When Hashem Fought For Us I find both parts of Meshech Hochmah’s comment to Devarim 21;10 worth considering, although I am not sure how they go together. The Torah introduces the idea of a yefat to’ar, a woman a Jew takes captive during war, whom he plans to have convert and then marry (against her will, ...

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Labels Sometimes Help

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Shofetim hosts 17;11, lo tasur, the verse Rambam famously held established a Biblical prohibition against any violation of rabbinic law. Ramban demurred, and Meshech Hochmah—like many before him—took a shot at explaining Rambam’s position.   An Adjustable Torah Meshech Hochmah says the Torah wanted a flexibility within its system of fixed rules, a mechanism for new issues or ordinances, to ...

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The Land, Worship, and Charity

by R. Gidon Rothstein Back in Parshat Shelah, we had noticed Meshech Hochmah’s idea that Moshe chose a spy from the half of the tribe of Menasheh who were going to take their share of Israel on the west side of the Jordan, in the hopes it showed a greater love for the Land. A comment in this Parshat Re’eh again gives reason ...

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Overcoming Ourselves, With God’s Help

by R. Gidon Rothstein Torah Awakens Us To Higher Truths Meshech Hochmah points out an oddity in the first verse of the parsha (originally addressed by Akedat Yitzhak, he says). Moshe Rabbenu says Hashem will reward us in return for following the mishpatim, laws we understand, without mention of the hukkim, laws we do not (or not immediately and intuitively). While he applauds (but does not share) Akedat Yitzhak’s ...

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Paths to Focus on God

by R. Gidon Rothstein In verse fifteen of chapter four, Moshe spends a few verses warning the Jewish people against falling into worship of anything other than God, closing in verse twenty with the reminder Hashem had taken them out of Egypt to be His nation. Next verse, Moshe turns the attention on himself, Hashem was angered with him al divreichem, ...

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