Yet, if Mordechai teaches us that doubt is no reason for inaction, it is Esther that teaches us that it is actually a reason for even more effort
But the Torah was given to real people, for whom love of the outsider would not always be so obvious.
This story is actually a brilliant depiction of the interplay between divine providence and free will. Without taking away our ability to “surprise Him,” God – when needed – doesn’t hesitate to steer us in the direction He wants.
So while a proper reading of the Book of Bereshit introduces us to moral complexity, its end pushes us even further. It prepares us for the fact that there is even a level of moral complexity, which we should realize exists even if we may never understand it
How Yehudah Turned Bnai Ya’akov into Bnai Yisrael
Rav Hirsch famously criticizes Yitzchak and Rivkah for not educating Esav according to his innate personality, and instead trying to force him to be like Ya’akov. His insight is meant to teach that while it was Esav that made the choice to go ‘off the derekh,’ there is always much that parents can try to do before that happens.
Being bound on Mount Moriah gave Yitzchak a connection with God that would be disturbed by living outside the Land of Israel.
In fact – at its core – there is no better argument than Avraham’s. For his petition is asking for nothing else than what is good for God. For when God executes strict justice, He often “sacrifices” His own reputation for the sake of the truth.
If so, why was Noah commanded not to murder (and, likely, other old commandments) as well? Apparently, there was something not yet completely intuitive, and that was the sanctity of life.
Yet in spite of Moshe’s best intentions, it is obvious that his blessings – as we have portrayed them – had little effect on the Jews once they reached the Land of Israel.
When we cannot fully understand God’s decision that accepting it shows our true allegiance to Him
Can God justifiably blame us for something we don’t know?
There is nothing wrong – and actually everything right – about loving God’s world. But to be significant, it must be a love grounded in enhanced awareness and appreciation of God.
Whether in its variation or in its norms, the world around us provides countless ways to see God. But that will only happen to someone who is looking for them. In other words if we really want to see God, we must also seek God.
Most of Devarim is Moshe’s series of parting lectures to the Jewish people. Two things about them are clearly felt – the first is that they are long, often abstract and sometimes even appear repetitive; and the second is that Moshe accordingly uses diverse tactics to keep the Jews listening.
The notion that all men are created equal is a modern myth. The truth is that all men are created differently
a different leader of the next generation steps up and takes action. That leader was Pinchas...True leaders like Pinchas don’t come out of leadership schools. When the time is ripe, they simply emerge.
Many of the commentators find a disturbingly strong rationale in the Jews’ complaint mentioned above. The complainers were essentially blaming Moshe for setting up a murderous trap for the two hundred and fifty men that contested the choice of Aharon and his sons as priests.
In this week's parsha, there is an unusually insightful process of how a little complaint can undermine a gigantic and noble enterprise:
Why may Kohanim not attend to the dead?
It might seem easier to pray alone to God, rather than with the various distractions of a communal setting. True, Jewish law actually recognizes this and tries to minimize these distractions by recommending a set seat, prohibiting holding objects, etc. Still, the many distractions are impossible to completely eliminate. Yet in spite of its drawbacks, we derive strength from doing things together with a group.
Perhaps in the midst of the great uncertainties created by the Coronavirus pandemic, it is all too easy to remember that we are not God. But the temptation to think otherwise still exists. And once the pandemic will be over and man will continue to build better and better tools to control his fate and his environment, that temptation will regain its strength
So who had it better, Moshe or Aharon?
The traditional understanding – that the Torah is referring to the monetary value of an eye – is not without its difficulties either
To what extent is a prophet of God allowed to improvise?
Though they share parents and ancestors, once the two lines diverge, the Torah tells us exclusively about Aharon’s descendants
Ya’akov’s mistake instructs us to understand that even if something appears to be good, that does not mean there isn’t a different way that might be even better
Is this the only question we should ask?
In one of the most mysterious verses in the Torah (Bereshit 35:8), we read about the death of Devorah the nursemaid, a character so minor that we have never really heard of her before
On the face of it, a conventional exchange between father and son, we see it nowhere else in Tanakh. Moreover both discussions take place at pivotal points in which the respective father-son relationships are tested to their limits.