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The Meaning of Hester Panim
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In Parshat Vayeilech, God tells Moshe that He will hide His presence from the Jewish people when we sin: The LORD said to Moses: You are soon to lie with your fathers. This people will thereupon go astray after the alien gods in their midst, in the land that they are about to enter; they […]
Parshat Nitzavim
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Which is greater, performing a mitzvah without the requisite intention, or having the intention but failing to do the mitzvah?  For example, a fellow really wants to eat matzah on Pesach but is unable to do so due to circumstances beyond his control. Maybe he’s lost at sea, locked away in prison, or his declining […]
Parshat Ki Tavo
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Judaism is far more than a religion. It is undoubtedly also a national identity. Time and time again throughout the Torah Moshe references not the emergence of a creed or doctrine but rather the emergence of a people. In fact the Talmud (Shabbat 88b) notes that the Torah, the creed and doctrine of Judaism, was […]
The Mitzvah of Shiluach Haken
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One of the more esoteric mitzvot in Parshat Ki Teitzeh is the mitzvah of Shiluach Haken, sending away the mother bird before taking the eggs. What makes this mitzvah so puzzling is the great reward the verse bestows on those who fulfill this commandment. If, along the road, you chance upon a bird’s nest, in […]
Rebuke or Inspiration?
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The Book of Devarim is Moshe’s last speech to the Jewish people, 37 days prior to his death. Everyone knows that a good speech needs a hook, something that will captivate the attention of the audience in the first few moments of the speech. What was Moshe’s hook? In the opening verse of the book […]
Why Do They Hate Us?
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In the beginning of Parshat Balak, the nations of Moav and Midyan form an alliance, although they were otherwise bitter enemies, in order to fight against the Jewish people. What motivated them to wage a war against us? The Torah explains their motivation: Moab was alarmed because that people was so numerous. Moab dreaded the […]
What Year Are We In?
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The Bechor Shor presents an understanding of Parshat Chukat that is so innovative and non traditional that it is very hard to accept, though he was not the only one to do so. The vast majority of commentaries completely reject his idea. While the evidence seems to be stacked against him, no study of the […]
250 Chieftains and the Plot of Korach
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In the beginning of Parshat Korah, the Torah tells us that Korach did not act alone in his rebellion against Moshe and Aaron. Now Korah, son of Izhar son of Kohath son of Levi, betook himself, along with Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—descendants of Reuben— to rise up against […]
The Absence of Yehoshua
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In Parshat Shelach we read about the sin of the ten spies who were sent to the Land of Israel and the disastrous effects that it had on the Jewish people. Two spies however did not participate in the sin, Yehoshua and Calev. In fact, they both publicly protested the report of the ten spies: […]
Lessons in Repetition
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There’s a lot of repetition in the fifth, sixth and seventh aliyot of Parshat Naso. On every subsequent day of the inauguration of the Mishkan, each tribal leader offers a set of sacrifices on behalf of his tribe: The one who presented his offering on the first day was Nahshon son of Amminadab of the […]