Vort from the Rav

Vort from the Rav: Bo

Exodus 12:43 זאת חֻקַּת הַפָּסַח כָּל־בֶּן־נֵכָר לֹא־יאכַל בּֽוֹ This is the statute of the Passover sacrifice: No estranged one may partake of it. The paschal offering is referred to as a chok, involving suspension of one’s reason, similar to the laws of the Parah Adumah, the Red Heifer. Here, at this sacrifice commemorating the birth of the Jewish people, the ...

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Vort from the Rav: Vaera

Exodus 6:2 וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו אֲנִי ה׳ and He said to him, “I am the Lord. Chazal point out that God was very critical of Moses’ argument in v. 5:23 – since I have come to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has harmed this people, and You have not saved Your people. A similar criticism was leveled against Solomon ...

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Vort from the Rav: Shemos

Exodus 3:6 כִּי יָרֵא מֵֽהַבִּיט אֶל הָֽאֱ־לֹהִֽים וַיַּסְתֵּר מֹשֶׁה פָּנָיו And Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look toward God. Chazal differ regarding whether Moses’ refusal to see the Shechinah was praiseworthy or not (Brachos 7a). According to R. Yehoshua ben Korcha, Moses should not have turned away, while R. Yonasan maintains that it was Moses’ fear of ...

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Vort from the Rav: Vayechi

Genesis 50:19 הֲתַחַת אֱ-לֹהִים אַָֽנִי for am I in the place of God? ​The Rav provides two interpretations for Joseph’s use of this phrase in response to his brothers’ fears that he would take revenge upon them: 1) Asking forgiveness of God and forgiveness from man are fundamentally different categories of request, requiring different approaches and different wording. The brother’s ...

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Vort from the Rav: Vayigash

Genesis 46:27 אֲשֶר־שָלַח יוֹסֵף וַיַרְא אֶת־הָעֲגָלוֹת and he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent. Why did Jacob overcome his initial skepticism only after he had seen the wagons? Rashi suggests that as evidence that it was indeed Joseph who sent the message, Joseph instructed the brothers to tell Jacob that at the time he left, they were studying the ...

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Vort from the Rav: Miketz

Genesis 41:1 וְהִנֵה עמֵֹד עַל־הַיְאַֽרֹ and behold, he was standing by the Nile The preposition עַל has the connotation of nearness, proximity. There is another meaning, however. עמֵֹד עַל is a biblical idiom, as in: וְהִנֵה ה’ֹ נִצָב עָלָיו – And behold, the Lord was standing over him (Gen 28:13), that is, paying special attention to him (Rashi). The word ...

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Vort from the Rav: Vayeishev

Bereishis 41:73 וַיִשְלָחֵהו מֵעֵמֶק חֶבְרוֹן So he sent him from the valley of Hebron. Rashi comments on this verse, – But Hebron is on a mountain! The valley of Hebron alludes to the profound counsel, עֵצָה עַמוקָה, of the righteous one [Abraham] who is buried in Hebron to fulfill that which God told Abraham in the Bris Bein Habesarim: You ...

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Vort from the Rav: Vayishlach

וַיַצֶב־שָם מִזְבֵחַ וַיִקְרָא־לוֹ אֵ-ל אֱ-להֵי יִשְרָאֵֽל There he erected an altar, and he named it “God is the God of Israel” (Bereishis 34:20) Rashi cites Megillah 18a, translating this phrase differently: and the God of Israel called him [i.e. Jacob] אֵ-ל. There are halachic implications to the two translations. The scribe (sofer) who writes a sefer Torah must have the ...

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Vort from the Rav: Vayeitzei

ועַתָה לְכָה נִכְְרתָה בְִרית אֲנִי וָאָתָה So now, come, let us form a covenant, you and I. (Bereishis 31:44) There are two types of covenants. In one type, the two parties agree to pursue a common goal and a shared destiny. There will be interaction between their respective cultures and there would therefore be no hesitancy to intermarry with one ...

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Vort from the Rav: Toldos

This is the first in a series of Torah insights from Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (“the Rav”), excerpted from the recently published Chumash Mesoras HaRav. Genesis 27:41 יִקְְרבו יְמֵי אֵבֶל אָבִי ואַהְַרגָה אֶת יַעֲקֹב אָחִי Let the days of mourning for my father draw near, I will then kill my brother Jacob. There are two mitzvos governing the obligations of ...

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