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Masei: On the Move in One Place
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Parshat Maasei, which is always read during the three weeks, follows a pattern of galus-Eretz Yisrael-galus-Eretz Yisrael. Why does Rashi need to tell us the reason for giving the boundaries of the Land of Israel, all countries need boundaries?
Matos: Coping with Exceptions
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Matot is always read during the three weeks, what is the connection between nedarim and the churban? The Maharal explains why Chazal tell us both that making nedarim is a good thing and a bad thing. What is the purpose of a neder?
A Land that Grows Immorality
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“Yisrael settled in Shittim and the people began to act promiscuously with the daughters of Moav.” — Bamidbar 25:1 Balak, the king of Moav, saw the supernatural success the Jews experienced when they left Mitzrayim, and he feared that his people would be destroyed. He hired the gentile prophet, Bila’am, to curse the Jews. HASHEM […]
Matot-Masei 5778
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Emet L’Yaakov: If Moshe’s usage of “זה הדבר” shows his elevated level of prophecy, why doesn’t the Torah use this phrase until now? Download the mekorot here Delivered at the OU Israel Center, 29 Tammuz 5778 (July 12th, 2018)
Matos Maasei 5778
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Netziv on the difference between “זה הדבר” and “כה אמר” הגיונה של תורה: The תנאי made by Bnei Gad and Reuven seems unfair – either way they get land! If the conquest was miraculous why did they need to come? What do we learn from the names of the מסעות When someone goes into exile […]
Miles to Go Before I Sleep
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Etre ailleurs, “To be elsewhere – the great vice of this race, its great and secret virtue, the great vocation of this people.” So wrote the French poet and essayist Charles Peguy (1873-1914), a philosemite in an age of Anti-Semitism. He continued: “Any crossing for them means the crossing of the desert. The most comfortable […]
Matos-Masei 5778
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Rashi on why parshat nedarim was addressed to the Nesi’im. What qualifies someone as an expert (יחיד מומחה) vis-a-vis annulling vows – genuine semicha (Ramban) or expertise (Rambam)? The dispute between the Rambam and the Ramban vis-a-vis the mechanics of hatarat nedarim – is it adjudication or is it a new construct? Bnei Gad & […]
Cities of Refuge
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One of the topics discussed toward the end of Parshas Masei is that of arei miklat – the cities of refuge, to which an accidental killer must flee. In his classic and unique manner, the Meshech Chochmah has an illuminating way of looking at the relevant pesukim. A Long-Term Anointment וְיָשַׁב בָּהּ עַד מוֹת הַכֹּהֵן […]
Tevilat Keilim: An Ethic of Independence
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Why, after the battle of Midian are the Jews told about the laws of kashering vessels? They surely acquired vessels in previous wars as well! Why do glass and metal have to be immersed whereas other utensils don’t require immersion? Download the mekorot here Delivered at the OU Israel Center, July 10th, 2018 (27 Tammuz 5778)