Posts

Parshat Va-Yetzei: Carving Out a Life, In Gd’s Closer or Farther Presence

by R. Gidon Rothstein What Makes Life Worth Living Three times in Va-Yetzei, Rashi refers to a baraita from Nedarim 64b about four people whose are as if they were dead. Gd goes against the general prohibition on linking the divine to a living person in 28;13, identifying Himself, as it were, as the Gd of Yitzhak. Rashi explains Yitzhak’s blindness restricted him to his house, ...

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A Kohen Serving Others

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I am a kohen who likes to fit in with others. When I lend a helping hand, occasionally someone tells me that I need not or should not because I am a kohen. Should I listen to them?   Answer: The Torah (Vayikra 21:8) writes about a kohen “v’kidashto” (you shall sanctify him), from which Chazal ...

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Audio Roundup 2020:45

by Joel Rich I listened to a podcast from earlier this year interviewing Brian Greene a well-known physicist. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/108-brian-greene-until-end-time-mind-matter-our-search/id1352860989?i=1000468647766 If anyone has a chance to listen to it I’d be interested in hearing their thoughts, my understanding (or lack) follows. One topic was free well. Brian is a physicalist but tries to explain how we might have free well or ...

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What Matters More Than We Notice

New Series: End of the Third Sha’ar of Sha’arei Teshuvah by R. Gidon Rothstein I was seventeen, scanning the shelves of the Beit Midrash of Yeshivat Har Etzion for what to study during their mussar seder, and stumbled on Rabbenu Yonah’s Sha’arei Teshuvah, Gates of Repentance. [Brief reminder: Rabbenu Yonah was a relative and younger contemporary of Ramban’s, living 1200-1263 CE.] I come back to it ...

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Pollard’s Blessing After Parole

by R. Gil Student Jonathan Pollard is now a completely free man, having finished last Friday his five years of parole following 30 years in jail after pleading guilty to spying on the United States. There are two possible responses to release after such a long captivity. One is to become bitter over the time lost, the life that could ...

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Before Reb Zusia

by R. Gil Student I. Being Measured Against Others Over a decade ago, I challenged the eighteenth century Chasidic scholar Reb Zusia of Hanipol‘s famous last words. On his deathbed, he said that he wasn’t worried that the heavenly court would ask why he wasn’t like Moshe, because he could answer that he lacked Moshe’s abilities. But he was worried that ...

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Toldos: Second Aliyah

by R. Daniel Z. Feldman Commentary and insights into the second portion of Parashas Toldos (Gen. 26:6-12) If you cannot see anything below, click on this link. See here for past weeks: here

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Onkelos, Rashi, and Ramban to Toledot: Evil and Good We Do and Do Not Recognize

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Toledot opens with Yitzhak’s prayer on behalf of Rivkah, Rivkah’s difficult pregnancy, and then the challenges of having two sons take contrasting paths one good and one not. Comments of Onkelos, Rashi, and Ramban draw our attention to the delicate choices to be made in building lives, and how those choices determine whom we become. Rivkah’s ...

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Tefillin Prepared by Children under Bar Mitzva

by R. Daniel Mann Question: Several years ago, when I was 11, my (Orthodox) shul brought in a person who makes tefillin batim (boxes) and guided several friends and me to more or less make our own tefillin. Someone questioned me as to whether the tefillin are kosher because I was not yet bar mitzva. I would rather not ask my rabbi, who ...

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