Tag Archives: Ramban

Sin as a Cover, Spontaneous Blessing, and More

by R. Gidon Rothstein The Fat That Covers The Torah and halachah refer to two kinds of fat in an animal, cheilev and shuman. Cheilev fats are offered on the altar as part of animal sacrifices, and therefore prohibited to Jews to eat (at a karet level, the person would be cut off from the Jewish people should s/he eat such fats with knowledge and malice aforethought). Shuman is completely permissible, ...

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The Mishkan at Night

by R. Gidon Rothstein The Mishkan at Night, Its Staff, and How the Torah Tells Us About It The Mizbe’ach at Night Parshat Tzav starts with rules for an olah, the offering burnt completely to Hashem. Such an offering, we are told, can be burned on the mizbe’ach, the altar, all night. Ramban quotes Rashi (and will build from there); Rashi noted two teachings of the verse: first, hekter chalavim ...

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Insights Into Sacrifices

by R. Gidon Rothstein Vayikra is called Torat Kohanim (as is its Midrash Halachah), the laws of priests, for a reason. We can exaggerate the extent to which it’s focused on the rules of the Mishkan/Temple and the kohanim who serve there, but the first several sections of the book live up to that reputation. Parshat Vayikra especially. The Cryptic ...

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Varieties of the Supervisory Experience

by R. Gidon Rothstein Ramban to Pekudei: Varieties of the Supervisory Experience Betzalel’s Hands-On Supervision The beginning of Pekudei tells us Betzalel did all that Hashem commanded Moshe. The next verse names others he had with him, but this verse sounds like he did it all. Ramban explains that he was the one who taught the various artisans what they should do. That ...

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The Roles of Fire and Money

by R. Gidon Rothstein Ramban to Vayakhel: The Roles of Fire and Money Rounding Out a Prohibition At the beginning of Vayakhel, Moshe gathers the people to remind them of proper Shabbat observance. In 35;2, he says not to perform melachah, creative labor, on Shabbat, and verse three adds that they may not burn fires. Ramban records two ways Chazal explained why fire was singled out ...

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Coins, Craftsmanship, and Calf

by R. Gidon Rothstein The beginning of Ki Tissa might be more familiar than most sections of the Torah, because it’s also the special reading for Parashat Shekalim (which, this year, was three weeks ago). Hashem tells Moshe to collect a half shekel “of the shekel hakodesh, the sanctified shekel.” Ramban makes two thought-provoking claims. Coinage Marks a Nation First, he says Moshe established this as ...

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In Which We Meet the Kohanim

by R. Gidon Rothstein In Shemot 28;1, Hashem lays out the process for inducting Aharon and his sons to the priesthood. Ramban points out that the sons had to be in this ceremony, that Aharon’s investiture did not turn all his living descendants into priests. A baby born to a kohen father is a kohen (barring certain disqualifications), but having a kohen father does not do it. That distinction mattered only for that ...

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The Beginnings of the Mishkan

by R. Gidon Rothstein The Mishkan Started at Sinai Parshat Terumah opens with Hashem telling Moshe to collect donations for the building of a Mishkan (referred to in 25;8 as a Mikdash, a sanctified place, as the later structure in Yerushalayim would be called). The verse’s reason for building it is so that Hashem will reside in their midst. Ramban to 25;2 expands that basic idea, ...

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Versions of Limited Autonomy

by R. Gidon Rothstein Shemot 21;3 tells us about when a master sends free his eved Ivri, that his wife goes with him. The term “eved Ivri” is commonly translated as a Hebrew “slave,” but this parshain particular reminds us that multiple versions of servitude qualify as “eved”; translating it as slave weights it with the experience of African-Americans in the United States, even ...

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