Vayechi 5773

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

We learn from Yaakov's death that one's legacy can live on after death. The Gemara (Taanis 5b) says that Yaakov did not die. How is this so? Doesn't the posuk says that they eulogized him, buried him and embalmed him? Rather, this means to say that Yaakov did in fact die, but he stays alive through his descendants. Just as his descendants are alive, so too Yaakov is alive. One could this to mean that if we continue in the ways of Yaakov (his middos and virtues) we keep Yaakov "alive" in all of us.

Vayigash 5773

Thursday, December 20, 2012

When the Torah goes through the 70 descendants of Yaakov who went to Mitzrayim they are called souls(nefashos); however, the pesukim always use the singular tense (nefesh). The Kli Yakar explains that this is to show us that Yosef and his brothers are united now and have become one big soul again. Both Yosef and his brothers removed any bad feelings between them. The pesukim are telling us of their righteousness in that regard. We should learn from their wonderful example. Our unity will lead to great things.

Mikeitz 5773

Thursday, December 13, 2012

When the famine hits Eretz Canaan, Yaakov sends his sons down to Mitzrayim for food. This is when he "sees" that there is food ("shever" in Hebrew) there. However, he later says he "hears" that there's food. Rashi (42:1) explains that Yaakov saw through a "holy lense" that there still is hope ("sever") in Mitzrayim. Rashi is telling us that even when things don't look so great Hashem gives us a spark of hope in some form. We should always try to stay positive and look for the good in every situation.

Vayeishev 5773

Thursday, December 6, 2012

We all know the story of how Yosef was sold as a slave by his brothers. However, this famous view of Rashi's is not universally accepted. The Rashbam says the brothers in fact did NOT sell Yosef; rather, it was the Midianites who were passing through (37:28). One question that arises is when Yosef later reveals himself to his brothers in Mitzrayim, he claims that they sold him and not the Midianites. Rashbam answers this by explaining that Yosef meant that their actions (throwing him into a pit) led to his begin sold as a slave by the Midianites.

Vayishlach 5773

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Kli Yakar explains that the Yetzer Hara is like a fly that can't damage one's skin, but looks for an opening. This is how the angel was able to attack Yaakov, he found a small deficiency in Yaakov's middos. Yaakov had gotten very rich by Hashem and this caused him to not be satisfied with what he had (but very slightly). This is why he crossed over the river to retrieve his small items. The angel noticed this "opening" and attacked Yaakov.

Toldot 5773

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Kli Yakar explains the love Yitzchak had for Esav and bases his pshat off of a mishnah in pirkei avos (5:16): Love that is dependent on certain outside factors doesn't last; once the factors disappear, so too does the love. Yitzchak only loved Esav at the very moment Esav fed him. Once he finished eating, his love for Esav disappeared. This is unlike Rivkah's love for Yaakov which had no outside reason attached to it, and "a love like this doesn't disappear."

Chayei Sarah 5773

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Avraham remarries at the end of the parsha to Keturah. Rashi says this was Hagar and was called Keturah because her actions were nice as ketores (the incense). But didn't Rashi say last week she went back to doing avodah zarah (idolatry) after leaving Avraham? The Kli Yakar explains that Hagar had done teshuvah and the actions of a ba'al teshuvah become good and are like a nice smell (kivyachol) for Hashem, just like the ketores is. Avraham had named her Keturah to tell people she had done teshuvah.

Vayeira 5773

Thursday, November 1, 2012

During the akeidah, Avraham wakes up early and saddles his own donkey. Why does he so, doesn't he have servants who can saddle the donkey for him? The Midrash Tanchuma answers that both actions are showing the eagerness of Avraham to carry out Hashem's will and the idea of zerizim makdimim lemitzvos. May we follow in Avraham's footsteps and perform mitzvos in the same manner.

Rosh Hashana 5773

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Where do we know that we need to use a shofar for the tekios on Rosh Hashana? The Gemara (R"H 33b-34a) cites a baraisa explaining that we learn it out from the Yovel (Jubilee) year. The shofar's "teruah" is sounded on Yom Kippur of that year. The posuk also points out that this takes place "in the 7th month" (Vayikra 25:9). In regards to Rosh Hashana, the posuk says it is a day of "teruah" in the "7th month" (Bamidbar 29:1). Since both instances use the phrase "7th month", we learn to blow teruahs with a shofar on Rosh Hashana from Yovel.
Why do we have to learn it all from Yovel? Couldn't the Torah have stated to use a shofar by the pesukim of Rosh Hashana?
I would like to suggest that we re-examine the concept and wording of Yovel. At the end of a 50 year cycle, any land sold goes back to the original owner. The posuk says that each person should "return to his family and inheritance" (Vayikra 25:10).
The Hebrew word for "return" is "lashuv". The Hebrew word for repentance is "teshuvah". They contain the same root. When you do teshuvah, you are returning to Hashem from your bad ways.
What the Torah is saying is to take a step back and remember where you came from. You are a Jew and Eved Hashem just as your family members before you were. That is the purpose of ancestral lands returning to their original owners.
The shofar is sounded on that Yom Kippur to emphasize this message to us. The Rambam says the shofar is to wake us up to do Teshuvah.
This is why we blow the shofar on Rosh Hashana, to wave a flag at us to look at ourselves and our past and how we can improve and grow in the future.

Nitzavim 5772

It is very appropriate to have Nitzavim as the last parsha of the Jewish year. The posuk (30:11-14) states "This Mitzvah which i have commanded you today isn't hidden from you, nor far away....it isn't up in heaven or beneath the sea. Rather, it is very close to you, in your mouth and your heart." The Ramban points out this Mitzvah is doing teshuvah. Hashem is telling us that teshuvah isn't unreachable. If we make mistakes and taint ourselves, it's an easy process to repent. This is the Mercy of Hashem: He gives us the gift of opportunity to fix our mistakes.

Ki Teitzei 5772

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Torah forbids a mamzer from converting to Judaism. The posuk (23:3) states that even the 10th generation can't. The Gra shows why the Torah emphasizes the 10th generation. The mamzer's son contains 1/2 of his father's blood. The grandson only contains 1/4 of his grandfather. The 10th generation turns out to be 1/1024 of the original mamzer. Based on a Yerushalmi in Terumos (10:5), 1/960 is enough to allow a forbidden object. In reality, the mamzer's descendant should be allowed to convert due to being more than 1/960. However, the Torah points out that he still cannot.

Pinchas 5772

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The daughters of Tzelafchad approach Moshe to see if they can inherit their father's land. They mention to Moshe that their father had died and specifically say he wasn't part of Korach's rebellion. Why was it necessary to add that in? Why not just say he died of old age? The Ramban answers this is because they were worried Moshe wouldn't show compassion towards them since he hated the sin of Korach more than any other sin.

Balak 5772

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

At the very beginning of the Parsha, Balak the king of Moav goes to Midyan for advice to take on Bnei Yisroel. Rashi raises the question: Weren't Moav and Midyan longtime enemies? He answers since they both were afraid of Bnei Yisroel, they made peace. This Rashi is a living pshat, as this situation still occurs today. No matter how much hatred there is between nations, they'll join up against Israel and the Jews. But as we know the outcome of the story of Balak and Bilam, we have hope that we will come out victorious against our enemies.

Shlach 5772

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Meraglim claimed that Eretz Yisroel is a "land that eats its inhabitants." Rashi explains this is because wherever they went, funerals were taking place. Hashem was doing them a favor and distracted the inhabitants from causing the Meraglim any trouble. As the Midrash Tanchuma says, "Within the miracles Hashem did for them, they spoke bad about." The Meraglim failed to see the good in the matter. We should learn from their mistake and see the positive in even the worst of situations.

Emor 5772

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sefiras Haomer is mentioned in Emor, and the posuk says "You shall count for you 7 weeks." What does it mean "for you"? R' Yisroel Salanter explains that during Sefirah, we prepare ourselves to acquire the Torah FOR OURSELVES. That's why Pirkei Avos tells us 48 ways to acquire Torah; we're supposed to work on one way each day and one day to review it all. May we all be zocheh to acquiring the Torah by the end of Sefirah.

Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 5772

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

In the second Parsha we read, Kedoshim, Hashem tells Moshe to "speak to the whole congregation of Israel" (19:2). The Chizkuni explains that this Parsha was spoken the nation as a group (as opposed to small, seperate groups). The reason for this is because Kedoshim includes many Mitzvos that parallel the 10 Commandments. Why say them here? Because Bnei Yisroel thought in order to stay established in Israel, they only needed to do certain Mitzvos. Hashem was teaching them that it is essential to keep the fundamental and foundational Mitzvos.

Vayikra 5772

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Ramban opens Sefer Vayikra by saying it is a mere continuation of Shemos, which ends with Hashem's Presence resting in the Mishkan. Vayikra is how we can keep His Presence there and how to bring it back if we err. Vayikra is more difficult to relate to than the first two seforim. What the Ramban is trying to say is we must try our best to learn Vayikra with the same fervor as we had with Bereishis and Shmos, to somehow find a connection that can relate to us. And hopefully soon we will be able to apply Vayikra to our everyday lives with the third Beis HaMikdash.

Tetzaveh 5772

Thursday, March 1, 2012

This week is Shabbos Zachor, remembering Amalek. R' Moshe Feinstein explains (based on Megillah 18a) that Hashem wants us to feel in our hearts and remind us that Man can be evil. By doing so, we will be aware and stick to good. R' Soloveitchik explains that Amalek isn't just a certain nation, it includes anyone who follows after the same mindset of evil. A year ago, 2 "Amalekites" killed 5 members of the Fogel family in cold blood. Let us not forget this horrible tragedy in our hearts, and with Hashem's help and the coming of Moshiach, we will rid the world of evil.

Mishpatim 5772

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why does the Torah suddenly go into property and damage laws right after the Ten Commandments? The Ramban answers that whatever comes right after the Ten Commandments (which includes the very end of last week's parsha) is merely a repetition of the Ten Commandments. These civil laws is an expansion of "Lo
tachmod," not being jealous of your friend's possessions. The Ramban continues and explains if one doesn't know property laws, he'll become jealous and start to steal from others. Therefore, these laws will guide him in the right direction. He then quotes a Midrash: "The whole Torah depends upon judgement."

Va'era 5772

Thursday, January 19, 2012

In the first aliyah of Va'era, Moshe tries to talk to Bnei Yisroel, but they don't listen to him because of "anguish of spirit and hard labor" (6:9). When Hashem tells Moshe to speak to Pharaoh, Moshe claims if Bnei Yisroel won't listen to him because he's not a good speaker, then surely Pharaoh won't! Didn't the previous posuk just mention that they didn't listen because of other factors? Rav Avraham Rivlin, the Mashgiach of Kerem B'Yavneh, explains that this is showing the true humility of Moshe. He puts the blame on himself rather than accusing the people.
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