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Showing posts from December, 2017

When Good is Done to You, Acknowledge It! - Shabbat Chanukah-Parashat Miketz 5778

Our chachamim, in masechet Kiddushin, teach a general halachic principle: mitzvot aseh she'haz'man gerama nashim peturot – women are exempt from positive, time-dependent commandments. Generally, women may perform, but are not obligated to perform, those commandments that become obligatory only at a defined time. For example, the holiday of Sukkot occurs on the fifteenth day of the month of Tishre. The mitzvah of lulav is obligatory only during Sukkot. Since this mitzvah is time-dependent – it can only be performed during a specific window of time, women are exempt. Of course, should a woman choose to perform the mitzvah of lulav she may do so and it rewarded for doing so.

This Shabbat we celebrate the fourth day of Chanukah – chag ha’oorim. As is well-known, on each night of Chanukah we light a set number of candles corresponding to the number of nights of Chanukah that have elapsed. On the fourth night of Chanukah, we light four candles. Clearly, the mitzvah of Chanukah candle…

Acting with Integrity - Parashat Vayeshev - December 8, 2017

This week’s parasha, VaYeshev, opens with a description of Yosef’s relationship with his brothers – one fraught with contention. The Torah attributes this broken relationship most directly to the close bond that Yaakov had with Yosef – a closer bond than he shared with his other sons. The Torah tells us, “And (Yosef’s) brothers saw that their father loved (Yosef) most of all his brothers and they hated him; and they could not speak to him peaceably.”

The Targum Onkelos – an Aramaic translation of the Torah written by the great sage, Onkelos the Convert – gives a unique translation for the phrase “they could not speak to him”. Rabbi Dr. Rafael Posen a"h, in his incredible work, Parshegen, explains that Onkelos normally translates the phrase “could not” in one of two ways – physically/emotionally unable or legally unable. However, on the verse above, Onkelos provides a translation for the phrase “they could not” in a manner unique to our parasha. In no other place in the Chumash doe…

Chanukah is Upon Us - Parashat Vayishlach - December 1, 2017

Chanukah commemorates the miracles that Hashem did for the Jewish People in saving them from the hand of Antiochus and the Syrian Greeks. This miracle created the opportunity for our people to subsequently rededicate the Second Beit HaMikdash. The rabbis of that generation created the holiday of Chanukah to serve as a time dedicated to reflecting on those miracles and praising and thanking Hashem for His miracles.

HaRambam, Maimonides, teaches, “the commandment of Chanukah candles is a very beloved and precious mitzvah. A person must be careful to publicize the miracle and add praise and thanks to Hashem for the miracles that He did for us. Even if the subsistence of a person comes from charity, he or she must borrow money or sell his or her clothes to buy oil and candles in order to light Chanukah candles.”

The last portion of HaRambam’s law is surprising. On what basis does the halacha demand that a person borrow money or sell his clothing to fulfill this mitzvah? This law is partic…