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Parsha
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Posted on: January 24th, 2013

JudaismParsha

Reb Dovid Blinder was a noted scholar and pedagogue in Russia in the late 1800s. He was called ‘Blinder’ (blind man) because he never lifted his head to look outside his immediate area. Among his other achievements, he had the distinction of teaching Rav Chaim Brisker in his youth.

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Posted on: January 16th, 2013

JudaismParsha

There is a contradiction in the pesukim as to when makkas bechoros occurred. The pasuk in this week’s parshah says, “vayehi bachatzos halailah, v’Hashem hikah kol bechor b’eretz Mitzrayim… – and at chatzos of the night, Hashem hit every firstborn in the land of Mitzrayim…” (Shemos 12:29). This pasuk states that makkas bechoros occurred by night. The implication from the pasuk in Bamidbar 8:17 is that makkas bechoros occurred by day, for the pasuk says: “b’yom hakosi kol bechor… -- on the day that I hit all of the firstborn…”

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Posted on: January 15th, 2013

JudaismParsha

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rebbetzin Shira Smiles.

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Posted on: January 10th, 2013

JudaismParsha

After each of the makkos, Moshe Rabbeinu had to daven to Hashem to stop the makkah. After the makkah of frogs, the pasuk says “…vayitzak Moshe el Hashem al devar hatzefardi’im asher sam l’pharoh – and Moshe cried out to Hashem regarding the frogs that he inflicted on Pharaoh” (Shemos 8:8). This is the only makkah in which we find that the Torah uses the word “vayitzak [cried out]” in reference to how Moshe davened to Hashem. By the other makkos, the Torah uses the word “vayetar.” The Sifsei Chachamim asks the question that he says was bothering many people. He asks why the Torah changes its wording by the makkah of the frogs to the word “vayitzak.”

The-Shmuz
 

Posted on: January 10th, 2013

JudaismParsha

After months of rebellion, Pharaoh finally admitted he was wrong. The Dos Zakainim explains that the plague of barad moved Pharaoh more than any other. And it was because of one factor.

General George Marshall
 

Posted on: January 4th, 2013

JudaismParsha

General George Marshall became the U.S. Army’s Chief of Staff in 1939. With a keen understanding that the United States would eventually be drawn into the war that had just erupted in Europe, he set out to rebuild and modernize the army. This was no easy task. Besides the normal difficulties inherent in such an undertaking, Marshall had to do it against the wishes of many influential isolationists. Even President Roosevelt was reluctant to upset the country’s isolationists for fear that battling them would undermine his New Deal.

The-Shmuz
 

Posted on: January 4th, 2013

JudaismParsha

Yosef, his brothers, and their entire generation had passed on. A new era was beginning in Mitzrayim, and with it came a new attitude. When the Jews had first entered the land they were received as celebrated guests. After all, they were brothers of the great Yosef who had saved the nation. That sense of appreciation was now gone. No longer were the Jews respected and revered, no longer were they welcome. They had become a thorn in the side of the Mitzrim.

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Posted on: January 3rd, 2013

JudaismParsha

The Gemara in Kiddushin 71a says that when Hashem told Moshe Rabbeinu (in this week’s parshah), “zeh shemi l’olam, v’zeh zichri l’dor dor – this is my name forever, and this is my name for every generation” (Shemos 3:15), he was teaching Moshe two separate names of Hashem. Rashi explains there that this is derived from the fact that the pasuk does not say “zeh shemi v’zichri.” The Gemara says that Hashem told Moshe that He has both a name that is written and a name that is pronounced. Hashem’s written name is spelled “yud, kei, vav, kei” and His pronounced name is spelled alef, daled, vav, nun. (We will refer to this name as Adnus.)

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Posted on: December 27th, 2012

JudaismParsha

During my formative years, one of my rabbeim once told our class that he wished to tell us something very profound, something we may have a hard time believing: “I want you all to know that every student in this room has the capability to become one of the gedolei hador.” I recall that at first that comment encouraged and inspired me. But within a short time, I began to feel very dejected. In fact, I have thought of that comment many times since then and it took me a long time to understand what bothered me about it.

Leff-122812
 

Posted on: December 27th, 2012

JudaismParsha

Parshas VaYechi describes the last days of Yaakov Avinu’s life and it is therefore appropriate that the haftorah is a description of the last days of Dovid HaMelech’s life (the beginning of Sefer Melochim). But is that the only association? The last days of someone’s life? If so, there are other examples of the last days of someone’s life in Navi that could have been chosen. There must be deeper connections between the lives of Yaakov and Dovid.

The-Shmuz
 

Posted on: December 27th, 2012

JudaismParsha

This week’s parshah opens up with the statement “Vayechi Yaakov b’eretz Mitzrayim shevah esreh shanah – “And Yaakov lived in Egypt for seventeen years.” The Bal HaTurim explains that the gematria of vayichi (lived) is seventeen. The Torah is telling us that the life of Yaakov was seventeen years. Up until that point, he had suffered so much that his years couldn’t rightfully be called a life. The sum total of the years that he spent without torment was the seventeen years that he lived in Mitzraim. That was his life.

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Posted on: December 26th, 2012

JudaismParsha

In this week’s parshah Yosef brings his two sons to his father Yaakov to receive blessings before his death. Rashi tells us that when Yaakov was about to bless Yosef’s sons the shechinah left him as a result of some of Yosef’s sons’ evil descendants.

YU-122112
 

Posted on: December 20th, 2012

JudaismParsha

Yosef Hatzaddik is not only the central character at the end of Chumash Bereishis. I believe that Yosef is also the character who best serves as a role model for many in today’s world.

The-Shmuz
 

Posted on: December 19th, 2012

JudaismParsha

For 22 years Yaakov Avinu was in a state of mourning. His beloved son, the one who most closely followed in his ways, the one he envisioned as the leader of the next generation, had been taken from him while still a youth. For all those years Yaakov was inconsolable. Now the brothers came back with the news, “Yosef is still alive!” At first Yaakov could not believe it. The brothers convinced him it was true by showing him the wagons Yosef had sent.

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Posted on: December 19th, 2012

JudaismParsha

In the beginning of this week’s parshah Yehudah tells Yosef that he must allow Binyamin to return to his father because Yehudah had guaranteed Binyamin’s return. As the pasuk says: “ki avdecha arav es hanar… – for your servant has guaranteed the boy…” (Bereishis 44:32; see also 43:9).

The-Shmuz
 

Posted on: December 14th, 2012

JudaismParsha

Pharaoh had a dream. First, seven “good” cows came out of the Nile. Then seven “bad” cows came up and consumed the first cows. When he awoke in the morning, he called for Yosef to interpret the dream. Yosef explained the seven “good cows” represented seven years of plenty that would be followed by seven years of famine.

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Posted on: December 13th, 2012

JudaismHolidays

A congregant once told me that he was spending a large amount of time trying to explain Judaism to a coworker. His colleague thought that all Jewish holidays had the same theme, and he proudly summarized this theme at his family's two-minute Seder: "They tried to kill us, Hashem saved us, we won, now let's eat!!" He proudly bragged that this sentence was the family's personal, abbreviated Haggadah.

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Posted on: December 12th, 2012

JudaismParsha

There are two mitzvos that the rabbanan instituted for Chanukah, lighting candles and saying Hallel. The Gemara in Shabbos 23a says that women are obligated in the mitzvah of lighting candles because af ha’eim hayu b’osah haness – they too were involved in the miracle.

Hertzberg-120712-seal
 

Posted on: December 6th, 2012

JudaismParsha

Most people remember where they were when they heard the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed and justice delivered. Many books have already been written about the ten-year search for him, the decision to launch the mission and the actual attack on his compound in Abbottabad. While every aspect of this story is fascinating, I would like to focus on one specific area: Why were the Navy SEALs chosen to execute the mission? When the mission was being planned it was hardly a done deal that the SEALs would be selected as opposed to the CIA’s own paramilitary unit.[1]

The-Shmuz
 

Posted on: December 6th, 2012

JudaismParsha

At the age of seventeen, Yosef was wise in the ways of the Torah and in the ways of the world. He was called a “ben zikunim” because even at such a young age he showed the brilliance of an elder scholar. He had already absorbed all the Torah Yaakov had learned in the many years he had spent in the yeshiva of Shem.

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