Vort from the Rav

Vort from the Rav: Shlach

Bamidbar 14:17 וְעַתָּה יִגְדַּל נָא כֹּחַ אֲדֹנָי Now, please, let the strength of the Lord be increased. What precisely does this phrase mean? How can the Omnipotent’s strength be magnified? When Israel sins, God is in a sense “helpless,” as Rashi said: “His strength is weakened as a woman (Rashi on Numbers 11:15). Similarly, on the phrase “the Rock of ...

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Vort from the Rav: Beha’alosekha

Bamidbar 10:35 וַיְהִי בִּנְסֹעַ הָאָרֹן – So it was, when the ark set out. We are suddenly confronted with the parashah bracketed by the inverted nuns. The letters are inverted because what follows is a story which inverted our historical process. Alas, the parashah is really one sad tale which changes Jewish history completely. The parashah of וַיְהִי בִנְסֹעַ הָאָרֹן ...

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Vort from the Rav: Naso

Numbers 7:86 מְלֵאֹת קְטֹרֶת  – filled with incense. The first passage in Parashas Behaalosecha discusses Aaron’s role in lighting the Menorah.  Rashi on Num. 8:2 asks why the section regarding the lighting of the Menorah follows the detail regarding the dedication gifts of the nesi’im. He answers that Aaron felt badly that neither he nor any of the Kohanim played ...

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Vort from the Rav: Bamidbar

וְלֹא יָבֹאוּ לִרְאוֹת כְּבַלַּע אֶת הַקֹּדֶשׁ – They shall not come in to see when the holy [vessels] are being wrapped up. Bamidbar 4:19 When the ark was removed, the Levites and the Israelites were not to be present, or they would die. When the ark was recovered from the Philistines (1 Sam 6:19), the people of Beis Shemesh died ...

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Vort from the Rav: Bechukosai

Vayikra 26:32 וַֽהֲשִׁמֹּתִי אֲנִי אֶת־הָאָרֶץ – And I will bring the land into desolation. Rashi, basing himself on the Sifra, comments on this verse: This is a good dispensation for the Israelites, for the enemies will not find any gratification in their land, since it will be desolate of its inhabitants. he Land of Israel cannot be built by just ...

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Vort from the Rav: Behar

Vayikra 25:36-37 אַל תִּקַּח מֵאִתּוֹ נֶשֶׁךְ וְתַרְבִּית … אֶת כַּסְפְּךָ לֹא תִתֵּן לוֹ בְּנֶשֶׁךְ  – You shall not take from him interest or increase…You shall not give him your money with interest. The Torah absolutely forbids charging any type or amount of interest payments on loans. This prohibition is so severe that the Torah devotes five separate injunctions against it: ...

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Vort from the Rav: Emor

Vayikra 24:20 עַיִן תַּחַת עַיִן – eye for eye. Although the Written Law contains the prescription of an eye for an eye, the Oral Law interprets this statement to signify monetary compensation only. Why is the wording in the Written Law so misleading? Man’s organs do not merely perform organic functions; they drive fundamentally human responses. For example, when a ...

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Vort From the Rav: Kedoshim

Vayikra 19:14 וְלִפְנֵי עִוֵּר לֹא תִתֵּן מִכְשׁל – You shall not place a stumbling block before a blind person. Chazal have interpreted this verse in many ways. It cautions us against any careless word or act that in any manner could endanger the material or moral welfare of another. The term blind person refers not to one who is physically ...

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Vort from the Rav: Acharei Mos

Vayikra 18:4 אֶת מִשְׁפָּטַי תַּעֲשׂוּ וְאֶת חֻקֹּתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּּ – You shall fulfill My ordinances and observe My statutes. Generally, chukim seem to be irrational: if not for the divine imperative, we would never observe them. We assume a divine purpose and value, but we cannot fathom them. Mishpatim, on the other hand, reflect cultural and humanistic considerations. Yet the force ...

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Vort from the Rav: Metzora

Vayikra 16:16 וְאִישׁ כִּי תֵצֵא מִמֶּנּוּ שִׁכְבַת זָרַע וְרָחַץ בַּמַּיִם אֶת כָּל בְּשָׂרוֹ וְטָמֵא עַד הָעָרֶב A man from whom there is a discharge of semen, shall immerse all his flesh in water, and he shall remain unclean until evening. One who experiences a seminal discharge is known in Talmudic literature as a ba’al keri. Such a person is tamei, and ...

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