Meshech Chochmah

Bringing Jews to Believe

by R. Gidon Rothstein Installing Permanent Faith in Moshe The Torah links the Jews’ leaving Refidim to their arrival at Sinai. Rashi says it was to contrast their leaving, when they were a disunified crowd, signaled with the plural va-yis’u, they traveled, and arrived at Sinai as a nation, with the singular va-yihan, and he [meaning, the nation, but as a unified group] ...

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Where People Are Supposed to Take Control

by R. Gidon Rothstein Gd Will Always Help, Sometimes We Have to Start In two consecutive verses, Meshech Hochmah seems to take opposing stances on how actively humans should try to shape their future. When the people complain out of fear of the approaching Egyptians, 14;14, Moshe tells them Gd will fight for them, and they should be quiet. Meshech Hochmah says Moshe meant ...

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Jews Who Leave, and the Way Back

by R. Gidon Rothstein Calendar, Eyewitnesses or Fixed The first mitzvah given the Jewish people comes in 12;1, Gd tells Moshe this month shall be the first month of the year. Rambam thought the obligation included fixing the calendar according to eyewitness testimony. If no one saw the new moon on the night of the thirtieth (or those who did, ...

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The Exceptional and the Ordinary

by R. Gidon Rothstein Maybe the Few Outstanding Are Worth It All Some educational institutions focus on the excellent students, put most of their energies into those expected to go on to great things, giving desultory attention to the more average or ordinary students. While I think most of us find the extreme version of such a view upsettingly intolerable, Meshech ...

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Who Counts as Family?

by R. Gidon Rothstein Many Ways to Read the Torah There is an extended text known as the Baraita of the 32 middot of R. Eliezer the son of R. Yose Ha-Gelili, with ways to derive ideas from the Torah separate from those in the thirteen of R. Yishma’el we know from morning prayers. [Interesting trivia: I knew I had seen this Baraita somewhere, could not ...

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Getting Ya’akov to Egypt, Possibly for Jewish Slavery

by R. Gidon Rothstein Divine Spirit in Egypt In the middle of his speech to his brothers about bringing Ya’akov to Egypt, 45;12, Yosef stresses that they see, and Binyamin his brother sees, ki fi ha-medaber aleichem, it is my mouth speaking to you. Meshech Hochmah offers three readings of why Yosef found it worth emphasizing. First, he suggests Yosef was worried Ya’akov ...

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Truths We Come To Only Eventually

by R. Gidon Rothstein The Uncomfortable Truth of Gd’s Having Sent a Punishment To introduce his knowledge of Yosef and his skill at dream interpretation, the sar ha-mashkim, Paroh’s wine overseer who had been in prison, notes he is recalling his sins, 41;9. Meshech Hochmah suggests the recall put those sins in a new light for the sar ha-mashkim himself. Up to that point, he could ...

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Meeting Life as It Comes

by R. Gidon Rothstein When the Lessons We Need to Learn Taste Bad Before Yosef has his dreams, his brothers already hate him. When Yosef asks them to listen to his first dream, 37;6, I think most of us assume he wasn’t alert to how they felt about him. Meshech Hochmah instead says he was telling it to them as a tochahah, a ...

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Jews Are Not the Same

by R. Gidon Rothstein The comments this week came at me; I actually rejected the first one or two, looking for some other theme, but they kept coming, so I yielded. I resisted them because I am not sure I agree with Meshech Hochmah’s assumptions about the nature of Jews and non-Jews. As we look at them, we will learn one ...

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