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The Skull on the Water
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He as well saw a skull floating on the surface of the water and he said to it: Because you drowned others they drowned you; and those that drowned you will in the end be drowned. – Avos: 2, 6 Rashi – after commenting on this mishna – says that not all texts include it. […]
Tzarich Iyun: Rashi’s Father
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Misconception:Rebbi Yitzchak, whom Rashi—the commentator par excellence—cites in his commentary on the first verse of the Bible, is Rashi’s father. Fact: Rashi’s father, Yitzchak, and the “Rebbi Yitzchak” whom Rashi cites are different people. Background: The name “Rashi” is an acronym for Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, i.e. Rabbi Shlomo, the son of Reb Yitzchak.[1] But the […]
37. A Science Sidebar
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Incidental to talking about the celestial spheres [III, 14], the Rambam mentions some facts about astronomy as the Sages related them. For example, he mentions that the distance from Saturn to Earth is a journey of approximately 8,700 solar years. The Rambam suggests that a day’s travel is about 40 mil of 2,000 cubits each, […]
Antigonus and Hegel
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Avos 1, 3: Antigonus of Socho received the Torah from Shimon the Righteous. He used to say: Be not like servants who minister unto their master for the sake of receiving a reward, but be like servants who serve their master not upon the condition of receiving a reward; and let the fear of Heaven […]
36. The Influence of the Celestial Spheres
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What about the influence that the celestial spheres are said to exert on the affairs of man? The Rambam addresses this issue with a metaphor. [III, 14] Let’s take the example of a craftsman who makes sewing needles for a living. He might construct a large machine for the job. If he were to build […]
Tzarich Iyun: Giraffe Meat
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Misconception:Although the giraffe is a kosher animal, it is not slaughtered because it is not known where on the neck to perform the shechitah (ritual slaughter). Fact: The makom shechitah (region of the neck in which ritual slaughter is valid) on a giraffe is precisely defined by halachah, just as it is for all animals, […]