In Israel, a new five month scholarship program being offered to young aspiring athletes – one of them could be you.
And this is Micah: “Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6:7).
It is what Mesha, King of Moab, does to get the gods to grant him victory over the Israelites: “When the king of Moab saw that the battle had gone against him, he took with him seven hundred swordsmen to break through to the king of Edom – but they failed. Then he took his firstborn son, who was to succeed him as king, and offered him as a sacrifice on the city wall. The fury against Israel was great; they withdrew and returned to their own land” (II Kings 3:26-27).
How can the Torah regard as Abraham’s supreme achievement that he was willing to do what the worst of idolaters do? The fact that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son would seem to make him – in terms of Tanach, considered as a whole – no better than Baal or Molech worshippers or the pagan king of Moab. This cannot be the only possible interpretation.
* * * There is an alternative way of looking at the trial. To do so we must consider an overriding theme of the Torah as a whole. Let us assemble the evidence.
First principle: G-d owns the land of Israel. That is why He can command the return of property to its original owners in the Jubilee year: “The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants” (Leviticus 25:23).
Second principle: G-d owns the children of Israel, since He redeemed them from slavery. That is what the Israelites mean when they sing, at the Red Sea: “Until your people pass by, O Lord, until the people you acquired [am zu kanita] pass by.” Therefore they cannot be turned into permanent slaves: “Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves” (Leviticus 25:42).
Third principle: G-d is the ultimate owner of all that exists. That is why we must make a blessing over anything we enjoy:
Rav Judah said in the name of Samuel: To enjoy anything of this world without first reciting a blessing is like making personal use of things consecrated to heaven, since it says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” R. Levi contrasted two texts. It is written, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,” and it is also written, “The heavens are the heavens of the Lord, but the earth hath He given to the children of men!” There is no contradiction: in the one case it is before a blessing has been said, in the other, after a blessing has been said (Berachot 35a).
All things belong to G-d, and we must acknowledge this before we make use of anything. That is what a blessing is: acknowledging that all we enjoy is from G-d.
This is the jurisprudential basis of the whole of Jewish law. G-d rules by right, not by might. G-d created the universe. Therefore G-d is the ultimate owner of the universe. The legal term for this is “eminent domain.” Therefore G-d has the right to prescribe the conditions under which we may benefit from the universe. It is to establish this legal fact – not to tell us about the physics and cosmology of the Big Bang – that the Torah begins with the story of Creation.
This carries a special depth and resonance for the Jewish people, since in their case G-d is not just – as He is for all humankind – Creator and sustainer of the universe. He is also, for Jews, the G-d of history, who redeemed them from slavery and gave them a land that originally belonged to someone else: the “seven nations.” G-d is sovereign of the universe, but in a special sense He is Israel’s only ultimate king, and the sole source of their laws. That is the significance of the book of Exodus.
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I watch my children use blocks to build a large structure, observing the trepidation with which they add each block. As the structure becomes larger there is a greater risk of it collapsing, thus bringing an end to an hour of playful labor. I anticipate what will happen when one child adds a block to the top floor, compromising the integrity of the building and resulting in the collapse of the entire structure. The argument that ensues is predictable, as each child blames the other for “ruining” the fun. As an adult, I wonder about the need to attribute blame. Will assigning blame be instrumental in rebuilding the structure?
In this week’s parshah the Torah discusses the halachos of when one steals from another and when confronted in beis din, the thief swears falsely with his denial that he stole. This parshah was already taught in parshas Vayikra; however, there are two halachos that the Torah adds in this parshah to this topic.
In order to carry from one’s home into the street (even when the area is enclosed by a properly constructed eruv), the eruvin ceremony must be performed. This ceremony involves the placing of food in one designated home on behalf of all Sabbath observers in the enclosed area. In order for the eruvin ceremony to be valid, however, it must be performed on behalf of all owners of streets and homes in the enclosed area.
Question: On Friday night the chazzan in many shuls ascends the bimah for Kabbalat Shabbos but goes to the amud starting for Barchu. Why?
Question: As Shavuot is fast approaching – a holiday on which we dwell on the story of Ruth and the origins of the royal house of David – I was wondering if you could help me resolve something. Some people say that Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi, the redactor of the six orders of the Mishnah and a scion of King David, purposely kept any mention of Chanukah and the Hasmonean kings out of the Mishnah because the Hasmoneans improperly crowned themselves and ignored the rule that all Jewish kings are supposed to come from the tribe of Yehudah. Is this true?
The Rema writes (Ohr Hachaim, 494:4), “It is customary to spread branches of trees in our synagogues and homes [on Shavuos] in order to commemorate that which the sages say [Rosh Hashanah 16a] that on Shavuos the world is judged concerning [how many] fruits the trees will produce [that year].”
‘A Separate Contribution From Each’
If a man suspects his wife of infidelity, he is to bring witnesses and warn her not to go into private quarters with the man in question. If she violates that warning, he is to bring her to the kohen, who will give her the “bitter waters” to drink. If she was falsely accused and was innocent, she will be blessed with children. If she was guilty, she will die a gruesome death.
A flash of red caught my eye, and I looked up and saw a cardinal perched on the picnic table on my deck. What a miracle, I marveled. You’re beautiful. Thanks, Hashem. And then my mind’s wheels began to roll, and it struck me that several miracle stories had come my way this week. The stories prodded me to think of and feel Hashem’s presence as a more tangible and vivid reality.
Over the years I’ve received letters from all over the world in which people share feelings and thoughts they’ve experienced upon becoming became Torah observant. Usually these letters arrive not long after the writers had heard one of my speeches. No matter where a particular speech took place, and no matter whether I spoke the language or had to use a translator, the magic always works. In reality, it’s not magic at all but a little voice in the soul – the “Pintele Yid,” that spark of G-d’s Word engraved on all our neshamahs. Here is one recent letter.
By the time these words are printed, there will be only a few more days left before Shavuos. We hope that up until that point, we will still have been counting the days of Sefiras Ha’Omer with a bracha, but we also know that too often, despite our best efforts, we drop out of counting with a bracha some time before the count is complete.
In this week’s parshah the Torah tells us that the bechorim were replaced by the levi’im to serve in the Mikdash. The Torah says that there were 273 more bechorim than levi’im. Those bechorim could not simply be replaced, and had to be redeemed. Hashem told Moshe that each bechor should give five shekalim to Moshe, who, in turn, should give them to Aharon and his sons. With that, they would be redeemed.
Question: Is there anything special that one should do on Yom Yerushalayim?
Question: As the shamash in a small community shul with an aging population, I am faced with numerous challenges. The following is only one of them. During sefirah, different people daven for the amud for Ma’ariv. Once, a bar mitzvah was one of them. On another occasion, a very recent ger lead the service. Were these individuals allowed to lead the congregation in counting sefirah? I also wonder, in general, if everyone should be trusted to lead the counting. What if someone forgot to count on one of the previous nights but does not inform anyone of this?
The heinous crime that put “Prisoner X” Ben Zygier in an Israel jail where he killed himself was not known until today: He butchered a secret Mossad operation to bring home the remains of 3 soldiers.
Last week, police executed a search warrant in the couple’s former home in Dewitt.
“They located the barbecue in a grassy area, ignoring safety guidelines.”
The organizers of a Thursday parade in Rome marking the World War II liberation of Italy prevented a representative from the Jewish Brigade group from speaking at the commemorative ceremony. A group of Jews and others marched under the Israeli flag and a banner of the Jewish Brigade that fought the Nazis in Italy. The [...]
Rabbi Avraham Sherman could be charged with fraud, breach of trust, obstruction of justice, and abuse of office.
Second suspect sought after Watertown explosions, gunfire.
Peter Vallone Jr., the frontrunner in the Queens Borough President’s race this fall, met last week with the editorial board of The Jewish Press at the newspaper’s Boro Park office. Vallone, a city councilman representing Astoria, Queens, touted his strong backgrounds in both public safety and running a small business, as well as his being a longtime supporter of Israel and of more funding and benefits for private schools.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/torah/the-art-of-gratitude/2011/11/12/
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