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August 26, 2016 / 22 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘parsha’

The Parsha Experiement – Va’etchanan: Building an Intimate Relationship with God

Thursday, August 18th, 2016
In this week’s parsha, Moses speaks, a lot – but it all seems so boring, and disconnected. The Torah is a book – and every sentence of that book fits together, like pieces in a puzzle. But how does that work, in this parsha? What is this parsha actually about?

Video:

This video is from Immanuel Shalev.
Link to last week:
https://www.alephbeta.org/course/lecture/devarim-2016-5776/autoplay

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For more on Va’etchanan, see Va’etchanan 5775 (https://goo.gl/usCgfn) and Va’etchanan 5774 (https://goo.gl/vtluad)

Immanuel Shalev

The Parsha Experiment – Devarim: Finding Inspiration From Our Past

Thursday, August 11th, 2016
In Devarim, Moses gives a grand speech that at first glance seems like a boring history lesson with the least inspiring stories! But underneath Moses’ words is an unbelievable message that the nation of Israel needed to hear right before they entered the land. What we come to find is that the messages of Moses speech are still applicable and inspiring to us, today. Join us as we try to tackle the mystery of Moses’ speech.

Video:

This video is from Immanuel Shalev
Link to last week:

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Help us grow and support what we do: https://goo.gl/NRLN3d Follow us on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/Aleph.Beta.Academy Follow us on twitterhttps://twitter.com/Alephbeta123

For more on Devarim, see Devarim 5775 (https://goo.gl/HVpwFr) and Devarim 5774 (https://goo.gl/SSneGQ)

Immanuel Shalev

The Parsha Experiment – Matot-Masei: Israel’s Psychological Journey

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

Parshat Masei begins with a recap of everywhere Israel has been so far on their journey throughout the desert. And you have to ask: who cares? Why is this here? As we’ve discussed many times, the Torah is not just a list of laws and stories. Each piece is meant to teach us some sort of timeless lesson. How does this travel log do that?

{This video is from Rabbi David Block and Immanuel Shalev}

Link to last week:
https://www.alephbeta.org/course/lecture/pinchas-2016-5776/autoplay

 

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Join our growing community: https://goo.gl/xv0UbG

Help us grow and support what we do: https://goo.gl/NRLN3d Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Aleph.Beta.Academy Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Alephbeta123

Dig Deeper:

Click here to review Israel’s journey from the beginning: (http://bit.ly/2aEl37e)

Click here for the Beshalach story: (http://bit.ly/1PnmYNT)

Click here for the Chukat story: (http://bit.ly/2aAJOCK)

Immanuel Shalev

The Parsha Experiment – Chukat: A Turning Point In Israel’s Relationship With God

Friday, July 15th, 2016

This week, we get even more complaining from Israel – this time, about the lack of water. How can they continue to complain after everything God had done for them? Join us as we explore the baffling story of Israel’s complaints.

 

Video:

This video is from Rabbi David Block and Immanuel Shalev.

Immanuel Shalev

Redeeming Relevance: Parsha Bemidbar: Follow Which Leader?

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Anyone who has spent time on committees in the business world or in communal life can tell you that the person initially designated as the leader of a particular team is not always the one who exercises the most influence on the group. Sometimes, a leader emerges from the group and gains the confidence of its members. He or she may not assume the formal role of leader of the team but that is of secondary importance; the person’s capability to steer the group’s work to a productive end is the best hallmark of true leadership.

The Torah recognizes this phenomenon and brings it to our attention in a subtle fashion in the Book of Bemidbar, through the way it lists the names of the different tribes.

In this week’s parsha, Moshe is instructed to enlist the head of each tribe and then to conduct a census of the men of each tribe who were old enough for military service. The first head of tribe listed is Elitzur ben Shedeiur of the tribe of Reuven and the first tribe counted is Reuven, the first born of the tribes (Bemidbar 1:1). The formally designated tribe is again listed first much later in the census in Parshat Pinchas (Bemidbar 26:5).

Contrast this with the accounting of the placement of the tribes in the camp of Israel, further in Parsha Bemidbar, in which the tribe of Yehudah is listed first. This change is echoed in the last tribal listing in the Book of Bemidbar, of the princes of the different tribes who are designated to take possession of the land of Israel; here too, Yehudah takes precedence with its prince, Calev, listed first (Bemidbar 34:19).

As students of the Torah, we are aware of the broader context of these shifts in prominence of the two tribes – how it was sons of the tribe of Reuven who helped lead Korach’s rebellion against Moshe (Bemidbar 17:1) while it was Calev who, alone with Yehoshua, stood up against the evil report of the ten spies (Bemidbar 13:30, 14:6), and how the tribe of Reuven eventually decided, with the tribe of Gad, to seek to take its portion of land outside the formal boundaries of the land of Israel (Bemidbar 32).

The Torah text reveals to us the shift in spiritual influence of the two tribes, through the different accounts in the Book of Bemidbar. And it uses the ordering the tribes, in different places, to underscore this shift and make a point that first and foremost, it is the actions of the person or persons that make them true leaders and not their titles.

Rabbi Francis Nataf

Parsha Lesson: Battling Kidnappers and Amalek, Then and Now

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

You learn interesting new things when you visit different towns and Minyanim. Today I learned of a Ramban on Parsha Chukat (the weekly Torah portion that is read in on Shabbat) that I hadn’t seen before, courtesy of Ari Fuld, who gave the Rabbi’s drasha in his neighborhood’s shul.

In Bamidbar 21:1-3 it says,

1:. The Canaanite, King of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that Israel had come by way of Attarim, and he waged war against Israel and took from them a captive.

2:. Israel made a vow to the Lord, and said, “If You deliver this people into my hand, I shall consecrate their cities.”

3: The Lord heard Israel’s voice and delivered the Canaanite. He destroyed them and [consecrated] their cities, and he called the place Hormah.

Seemingly the Canaanites attacked Israel, and to Israel’s surprise managed to take a hostage.

Israel then realized something was off, because they shouldn’t have suffered any losses.

So they then pray to God that they should be victorious over this unspecified, enemy nation.

They then destroy the “Canaanites”.

 

The Targum Yonatan Ben Uziel explicitly translates Canaanite in this first sentence as Amalek, in the third sentence he reverts back and calls them Canaanites.

Why is that?

Rashi points out that just a few chapters earlier in Bamidbar 13:29 it say:

29: The Amalekites dwell in the Negev land, while the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountainous region. The Canaanites dwell on the coast and alongside the Jordan.”

This king of Arad should have been Amalek, not a Canaanite.

So what’s going on here?

The explanation given is that Amalek believed that Israel could defeat them in battle.

They hoped to confuse Israel and God by changing their clothing and language, pretending to be local Canaanites. Their plan was that Israel would pray to defeat the Canaanites and not Amalek, and thus, by praying for the wrong thing, Israel would lose, and they, Amalek, would end up victorious.

But Israel, after a hostage was taken, quickly realizes that something is off, and that they obviously weren’t fighting the Canaanites like they thought.

So they modified their prayer to be generic towards whichever nation it is they were fighting. And of course, as we know, they won.

As an aside,  the hostage that was taken is believed to have been a foreign maidservant – not even an Israelite. But Israel decided to fight full-force to save one of their own, even a foreign maidservant (an important and relevant lesson for today).

Anyway, after modifying their prayers appropriately, Israel is victorious, as if Amalek were the Canaanites they thought they were originally fighting.

Now here’s the most interesting part:

The Ramban (Nachmanidies) say here about the Canaanite/Amalek:

“They [Amalek] came from a far away land, (specifically) to fight with Israel.”

Doesn’t that sound exactly like another group of people pretending to be indigenous, whose sole goal often appears to be nothing more than to kill or kidnap Jews, and destroy the Jewish state? (The answer is yes).

By the way, the Ramban mentions the maidservant was saved – may we also be zocheh that Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel be safely saved and returned home.

 

JoeSettler

Leprosy: Stringency and Leniency

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

The Torah introduces the code of law that the Priest was to use in order to determine the ritual status of objects stricken with Leprosy, “to pronounce it pure, or to pronounce it impure” (Lev. 13:59).

Invariably, cases would have arisen where the straight-forward reading of the Code of Law would have left doubt whether “to pronounce it pure, or to pronounce it impure.” How was the Priest to deal with cases of uncertainty? How did God expect us to deal with uncertainty in the laws of the Torah itself?

This central and critical question, as one can imagine was already a matter of dispute among the Sages. The [Jerusalem] Talmud of Eretz Yisrael teaches:

“Rabbi Eliezer said: Just as it is prohibited to pronounce pure that which is impure so too it is prohibited to pronounce impure that which is pure.” (Terumoth 5:3, 30b)

The Law is not merely a societal fail-safe, but a sacred and Divine prescription. Permitting the prohibited as well as prohibiting the permissible carries with it an inherent violation. According to Rabbi Eliezer, when one is in doubt about the law one must always weigh the risk of permitting the prohibited and prohibiting the permissible.

Other Sages took a different stance. The [Jerusalem] Talmud of Eretz Yisrael teaches us further:

“Rabbi Aba the son of Yaakov in the name of R. Yochanan said: If a law about [the purity/impurity of Terumah] comes before you and you do not know whether to suspend (i.e. weight until it is definitely impure) or to burn [Terumah] always pursue burning over suspending for there is nothing (i.e. offering) in the Torah more beloved [to God] than ‘bulls that are burned’ and ‘he-goats that are burned.’ And they in fact are burned!”

The “bulls and he-goats that are burned” refer to the exceptional offerings whose blood was sprinkled inside of the Temple as opposed to other sacrifices whose blood was sprinkled in the courtyard outside of the Temple. The meat of these special offerings as beloved and desirable to God as it may have been, was nevertheless burned, and by God’s own order!

According to Rabbi Yaakov bar Aha, the Torah itself reveals its mind on how cases of uncertainty should be handled. The example of bulls and goats shows us that destroying that which is sacred may not only permissible, but even desirable to God. Accordingly, Terumah whose purity/impurity is undetermined should be burned dispite the risk of burning pure Terumah rather than first waiting until it becomes definitely impure and permissible to burn.

By analogy, in cases of doubt, “destroying” or violating a sacred law by not weighing the risk of prohibitting the permissible should be normative procedure.

Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Aba the son of Yaakov’ point of dissent is whether in cases of doubt, one must consider the risk of prohibiting the permissible or may automatically rule stringently.

In its closing passage, the Talmud of Eretz Yisrael teaches:

Rabbi Yose asked: Can we derive something whose performance is not in this manner (by burning) from something whose performance is in this manner?

Burning the flesh of the offerings is part of their ritual prescription as opposed to burning Terumah which is done only when it is impure. Rabbi Yossi argues against Rabbi Aba the son of Yaakov and in favor of Rabbi Eliezer that one may not make any deductions from sacrifices.

The Talmud of Eretz Yisrael, which closes with this argument and does not come to the defense of Rabbi Aba the son of Yaakov would seem to be making its ruling.

Michael Linetsky

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/leprosy-stringency-and-leniency/2014/03/25/

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