Torah Study at Night

July 7, 2014, by

Sunday night is the 15th of Av, a festive day on which we don’t say Tachanun. The mishna at the end of Taanit mentions the various joyful customs and historical events which took place on this day in past generations. Among these is that from this day on they would stop cutting wood for the […]

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Mezuza

July 7, 2014, by

Our parsha includes the mitzva of mezuza, as part of the familiar portion of the Shema: “And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house, and upon your gates”. (Devarim 6:9.) The mitzva is to write the two parshiot which mention this mitzva, here and in Ekev (Devarim 11:20) on an appropriately prepared […]

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Hatov Vehametiv in Birkat Hamazon

July 7, 2014, by

This Shabbat is Tu beAv, a happy day when Tachanun is normally omitted because of the many joyful historical events which occurred on this date. One such event is that on this day the Romans permitted burial for the victims of the terrible massacre of Beitar, which we mourned on Tisha BeAv. The gemara relates […]

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Blessing on the Birth of a Baby

July 7, 2014, by

The Shulchan Arukh rules that on the birth of a baby boy, the parents bless “Hatov vehametiv”, thanking HaShem who is good and does good (SA OC 223:1). This is the blessing said on a blessed event which is common to several individuals (SA OC 222:1). The Mishna Berura explains that the boy is a […]

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Shabbat Chatan a.k.a. Aufruf

July 7, 2014, by

It is an ancient custom that a groom be called up to the Torah on the Shabbat before the wedding, or in most Sefaradi communities the Shabbat after. In Yiddish this is called “Aufruf” which literally means “calling up” to the Torah. The origin of this custom is given in the Midrash Pirkei d’Rebbe Eliezer […]

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Order of Putting on Tefillin

July 7, 2014, by

Past columns have discussed various aspects of the mitzva of tefillin. In this column we will put together some of these insights to see how the entire order of putting on tefillin carries a powerful message of proper priorities in spiritual growth. TIME OF TEFILLIN The first stage in the mitzva of tefillin is for […]

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Judging in a Torah Court

July 7, 2014, by

Our parsha begins with the commandment to appoint judges. Of course even without an explicit mitzva the Jewish people would have had to establish some system of justice, just to ensure an orderly society. The fact that this arrangement is a Torah commandment seems to show some kind of religious significance to the area of […]

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Confusing the Accuser – Part 1

July 7, 2014, by

A theme which we encounter repeatedly in the mitzva of Shofar is “confusing the accuser” (Satan). For instance: 1. The gemara tells us that we blow the shofar on Rosh HaShana both sitting and standing “in order to confuse the accuser” (Rosh HaShana 16b). 2. In the siddur of Rav Amram Gaon and in Machzor […]

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Tzaar Baalei Chayim

July 7, 2014, by

The Torah mandates two seemingly parallel commandments to help one who is having trouble with his pack animal. Of course both commandments tell us to show kindness to our fellow man, but the two mandates have different and complementary messages regarding our relation to animals. In Shemot, we are told to help him unload: “If […]

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Shalom Zakhar

July 7, 2014, by

The Rema writes that the custom is to make a meal or gathering on Shabbat night after a son is born, and adds that this is considered a seudat mitzva (SA YD 265:12). The Drisha states that the basis for this custom is that the infant is in mourning for the Torah that he forgot. […]

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