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Showing posts from September, 2017

The Destiny of the Jewish People is Guided by Hashem's Providence - Parashat Nitzavim-VaYelech - September 15, 2017

We read a double parasha this week – Nitzavim-VaYelech. Parashat VaYelech records some of the final words that Moshe conveyed to The Jewish People prior to his demise. At the end of these comments, Hashem shares a prophecy with Moshe in the presence of his successor, Yehoshua.

Hashem said, “Behold, you will lie with your fathers, and this nation will rise up and stray after the gods of the foreigners of the Land, in the midst of which the nation is entering. And the nation will leave Me and annul My covenant that I have sealed with it. My anger will flare against the nation on that day and I will leave them; and I will conceal My face from them and they will become prey and many evils and distresses will encounter it. (The nation) will say on that day, ‘It is not because my G-d is not in my midst that these evils have come upon me?’ But I will surely have concealed My face on that day because of all the evil that it did, for it had turned to gods of others.”

Rabbi Ovadiah Seforno discus…

Happiness from Kindness - Parashat Ki Tavo - September 8, 2017

The beginning of this week’s parasha, Parashat Ki Tavo, describes the mitzva of bikkurim – the obligation to bring the first of one’s fruit to Yerushalayim to be given as a gift to the kohen. The Torah enumerates an additional aspect of this commandment – an obligation to be performed immediately after this gift is given – to recite four specific verses that describe the sojourn of our forefather, Jacob, in Egypt and Hashem’s subsequent salvation of the Jewish People. Incidentally, these four verses – and their explication – also serve as the backbone of the maggid section of the Passover seder.

In his explanation of this mitzva, the author of the Sefer HaChinuch writes that by making this declaration about Hashem’s kindness to the Jewish People at this time – when he has reaped the produce of his land and Hashem has blessed him with the means to give this gift to the kohen – the farmer reinforces the idea in his own mind that his blessing is the result of Hashem’s handiwork and kindn…

Teaching Empathy - Parashat Ki Tetze - September 1, 2017

This week’s parasha, Ki Tetze, presents a summary of many of the mitzvot.

In the last section of the parasha, the Torah recounts two sets of commandments.

The first set discusses the just treatment of the downtrodden. The Torah writes, “You shall not pervert the judgment of a convert or orphan and you shall not take the garment of a widow as a pledge. You will remember that you were a slave in Egypt and Hashem, your G-d, redeemed you from there; therefore, I command you to do this thing.”

The second set discusses the obligations of a harvester to the downtrodden. The Torah writes, “When you reap your harvest in your field, and you forget a bundle in the field, you shall not turn back to take it; it will be for the convert, the orphan and the widow, so that Hashem, your G-d, will bless you in all that you do. When you beat the olive tree, do not remove all the splendor behind you; it will be for the convert, the orphan and the widow. When you harvest your vineyard, you will not glean behi…

The Importance of Practice - Parashat Shoftim - August 25, 2017

This week’s parasha, Parashat Shoftim, opens with the mitzvah to appoint judges and officers upon the entry of the Jewish People into the Land of Israel. The Torah instructs us to institute courts of varying sizes in different locales. In Yerushalayim, we are to appoint a Sanhedrin – a court of seventy judges and a head of the court – the av beit din. In big cities, we are to appoint courts of twenty-three judges, and in smaller cities, courts of three.

The Sefer HaChinuch discusses the root or benefit of this commandment. He explains that these courts, and the officers who support the courts, help acclimate the people to follow the law by instilling a fear of punishment or consequences. Building on this foundation of being accustomed to do that which is good, the people will “teach their natures to do justice and righteousness out of love and out of recognition of the true path”. In other words, promoting society to keep the law is a two-step process: first, the people must adhere to …