The pernicious difficulty of keeping self-love in check and not having it warp the way in which we see others is brought to our attention in the story of R. Elazar
Wishing all a Happy New Year-but when?
When it came to the “Jewish question,” Achashverosh seemed to be completely neutral. So how could he be as bad as the man who destroyed the Temple?
The goal is not to have God do what we want, but rather to do what He wants and thereby sanctify Him in the world. Often, that is accomplished by praying, but sometimes it is better accomplished by not praying – we are to look to halacha to tell us which situation is which
The alchemy of teshuva: Turning lead into GOLD.
While there is plenty of room for cooperation and interaction with other larger cultures, it is important for the Jewish people to remember that a key role God wants it to play is to often stand on the other side and follow our own path.
Almost always, the reason we are not willing to forgive offenses against us has almost nothing to do with the offense, and everything to do with it being done to us. Once we can internalize this, we can move to a God’s-eye perspective and forgive others more easily.
And so Moshe’s ultimate message here, according to Netziv, may be that even if the curses are fulfilled, that is no reason to abandon God.
One might think that there's nothing we understand better in the world than ourselves--after all, we spend every waking minute with ourselves. But is this self-understanding really the case?
In other words, it is not our strength at all that gives us the victory, but the workings of God.
As if Our Life Depended on it
There is an important teaching here for those who seek to have legitimate grievances addressed.
Precisely because the work that the second-generation did take place was less dramatic and required human participation that it created its own more organic resilience, making it a better model
Why twelve? If what is really important is the number ten, God could have theoretically created anywhere from eleven to nineteen tribes, and we would still have had decision-making with a majority of ten...
I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to suggest that the whole reason God created man, male and female, was for us to better understand our relationship with Him.
Since the commandments are all meant to engender some positive effect; when a commandment is not practiced, that effect will not be attained either.
Living at the height of European Romanticism and on the cusp of Nietzsche’s writings – which both contributed to a new much more pronounced interest in the individual – Netziv surely intuited the need to address the legitimate aspects of trends making inroads upon his students.
--and Why We Avoid it Nonetheless
Although there is a strong basis for our propensity to be more stringent on Pesach than we are during the rest of the year, we should not turn that into a blanket attitude in which stringency is always followed, regardless of the other values at stake
The easiest way out of my problem would be to say that the Mishkan was designed based on people’s need to be impressed
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.