Across Israel, Meir Panim responds to the growing needs of the country’s 1.75 million impoverished residents through various food and social service programs.
Significantly, both the Bible and rabbinic tradition understood divine parenthood in this way. They contrasted the description of Noah (“Noah walked with G-d”) and that of Abraham (“The G-d before whom I have walked,” 24:40). G-d himself says to Abraham: “Walk ahead of Me and be perfect” (17:1). G-d signals the way, and then challenges His children to walk on ahead.
In one of the most famous of all Talmudic passages, the Babylonian Talmud (Baba Metzia 59b) describes how the sages outvoted Rabbi Eliezer despite the fact that his view was supported by a heavenly voice. It continues by describing an encounter between Rabbi Natan and the prophet Elijah. Rabbi Natan asks the prophet: What was G-d’s reaction to that moment, when the law was decided by majority vote rather than heavenly voice? Elijah replies, “He smiled and said, ‘My children have defeated me! My children have defeated me!’ ”
To be a parent in Judaism is to make space within which a child can grow. Astonishingly, this applies even when the parent is G-d (avinu, “our Father”) himself. In the words of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik: “The Creator of the world diminished the image and stature of creation in order to leave something for man, the work of His hands, to do, in order to adorn man with the crown of creator and maker” (Halakhic Man, page 107).
This idea finds expression in halacha. Despite the emphasis in the Torah on honoring and revering parents, Maimonides rules this way:
“Although children are commanded to go to great lengths [in honoring parents], a father is forbidden to impose too heavy a yoke on them, or to be too exacting with them in matters relating to his honor, lest he cause them to stumble. He should forgive them and close his eyes, for a father has the right to forgo the honor due to him” (Hilchot Mamrim 6:8).
The story of Abraham can be read in two ways, depending on how we reconcile the end of chapter 11 with the beginning of chapter 12. One reading emphasizes discontinuity: Abraham broke with all that went before. The other emphasizes continuity: Terach, his father, had already begun to wrestle with idolatry. He had set out on the long walk to the land that would eventually become holy – but stopped halfway. Abraham completed the journey his father began.
Perhaps childhood itself has the same ambiguity. There are times, especially in adolescence, when we tell ourselves that we are breaking with our parents, charting a path that is completely new. Only in retrospect, many years later, do we realize how much we owe our parents – how, even at those moments when we felt most strongly that we were setting out on a journey uniquely our own, we were, in fact, living out the ideals and aspirations that we learned from them.
And it began with G-d himself, who left, and continues to leave, space for us, His children, to walk on ahead.
Adapted from “Covenant & Conversation,” a collection of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s parshiyot hashavua essays, published by Maggid Books, an imprint of Koren Publishers Jerusalem (www.korenpub.com), in conjunction with the Orthodox Union.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth since 1991, is the author of many books of Jewish thought, most recently “The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning.”
About the Author: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth, is the author of many books of Jewish thought, most recently The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning.
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When Mr. Fine received the translation he was disappointed. The translation was passing, but lacked the power and command of language in other translations he’d seen.
Question: When performing a mitzvah, what is more important: doing it right away – “zerizim” – or doing it with a large crowd – “berov am”?
Lulav, Sukkah, Shofar
‘Beautification is Not an Obstruction’
Tosafot (Sanhedrin 12a) offers a scriptural reason: to ensure that Adar will remain the twelfth month, as it is referred to in Megillat Esther (3:7).
The lulav symbolizes the backbone, the etrog, the heart, the hadas the eyes, and the arava the lips moving in the service of God.
The presence of a sacrifice in these covenantal experiences can be looked upon as a celebration of this glorious moment of meeting between God and his people.
Chazal tell us that Moshe functioned in many different capacities. For example, at various times he was considered a king and the equivalent of the Sanhedrin. He was also a kohen gadol, as evidenced by his role during this seven day period.
Born in 1933, Sheldon Adelson was the son of Ukrainian immigrants. His father drove a taxi and his mother ran a knitting shop. He grew up in one of the poorest sections of Boston. But even as a young boy he showed great ambition, first selling newspapers on the street corner, and then running his first business at the age of twelve. He went on to build over fifty businesses, eventually owning the Venetian Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. He became a very wealthy man.
So this is what she got herself into: serving chicken soup and getting bits of rent on random days. She couldn’t say it wasn’t worth it, as she was earning both a chesed and a little bit of cash.
If a korban chatas cannot be brought as a nedavah, how can one read the parshah of the korban chatas if he is not certain that he is obligated to bring one?
Rabbi Almosnino’s reading of the Biblical text might be compared with the way a prominent lawyer would read the most important contract of his career.
One can sigh with relief when the divorce is finalized but the heart is full and it aches with pain. Yes, there were conflicts. Yes, there was a cold war that made for a frigid atmosphere in the home. But loneliness is a very difficult thing to bear.
Sometimes, like the tamei individual who must stay away from the Mikdash, we have our limits and disabilities, and we must remember not to attempt those goals which are beyond our reach.
Such a misunderstanding would render our words worthless, for we would not be declaring that Hashem is truly the Master of the Universe.
Operating the crane is Joe. Joe is overweight and a chain smoker. Another worker approaches Joe and says, “Joe, look at you! 80 pounds overweight, smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. You must do something about your health. Go the gym, work out, and get in shape.”
Nasi is the generic word for a leader: a ruler, king, judge, elder, or prince. Usually it refers to the holder of political power.
Vayakhel is Moses’ response to the wild abandon of the crowd that gathered around Aaron and made the golden calf.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you fail. Such is life.
In Judaism, monarchy had little or no religious function.
So long as every crisis was dealt with by Moses and miracles, the Israelite default response was complaint.
Two laws have to do with the Israelites’ experience of being an oppressed minority:
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