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Meaning In Mitzvot

Rabbi Asher Meir is the author of the book Meaning in Mitzvot, distributed by Feldheim. The book provides insights into the inner meaning of our daily practices, following the order of the 221 chapters of the Kitzur Shulchan Arukh.

Nitzavim-Vayeilech: Symbolism of the Shofar Blasts

September 22, 2011, by

The Torah tells us that Rosh HaShana is a “Yom Teruah”, meaning a “day of sounding the shofar” (Bamidbar 29:1). However, the sages of the Talmud inferred from the nuances of the verses that actually we sound a fanfare of three different blasts: a “tekiah”, which is a simple blast; a “tru’ah”, which is a

Shoftim: Shabbat Chatan a.k.a. Aufruf

August 31, 2011, 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

Re’eh: Teshuvah

August 25, 2011, by

The day specifically mentioned in the Torah as the day of atonement is the tenth of Tishrei, Yom Kippur, but the entire ten days from Rosh HaShana until Yom Kippur are also called the “Ten days of repentance”. And to a lesser extent the entire month of Elul is devoted to repentance as well. For

Eikev: Order of Blessings

August 18, 2011, by

Our parsha contains the Torah mitzva of birkat hamazon, the grace after meals.This is the only blessing on food which is mandated by the Torah, but serves as one source for the Rabbinical commandment to make a berakha before any food (Berakhot 48b). When faced with a variety of foods, we give precedence to certain

Va’etchanan: Blessing on the Birth of a Baby

August 11, 2011, 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

Devarim: The Blessing “HaGomel”

August 4, 2011, by

Someone who has been safely delivered from a dangerous situation makes a special blessing in public, thanking G-d “Who bestows good on the culpable, Who has bestowed all goodness on me”. The mishna and thus the Shulchan Arukh give four examples: (1) one who returns safely from a perilous trip by sea; (2) or through

Masei: Delaying Marriage

July 28, 2011, by

The Mishna tells us “Eighteen years of age for the CHUPA” (Avot 5:21). But this is not like “Thirteen years of age for mitzvot”, whereby a Bar Mitzva is automatically celebrated for any 13-year old boy. A person doesn’t routinely get married right after his 18th birthday, rather this is singled out as an age

Matot: Choosing a Spouse

July 20, 2011, by

Last week we discussed the first chapter in Even Haezer, the section of the Tur and Shulchan Arukh dealing with the laws of marriage. That chapter dealt with the obligation to marry and have children. This week we discuss the second chapter, which discusses the ideal spouse whom we should marry. Seemingly, the main consideration

Pinchas: Intermarriage

July 14, 2011, by

In our parsha, Pinchas receives a special eternal blessing for his zeal in preventing intermarriage between the Jewish men and the Midianite women. Intermarriage is considered one of the most severe breaches in Jewish tradition, and the desire to prevent it is the main reason for the prohibition on many kinds of foods prepared by

Balak: Consideration Towards Widows

July 7, 2011, by

In many places, the Torah commands us to show special consideration towards widows. For example: In a number of places the Torah admonishes us to include them among the needy whom we are obliged to help with charity, tithes etc. Devarim 14:29, 16:11, 16:14, 24:19-21; 26:12-13. There is a special prohibition against causing them anguish