Wills & Halacha – No Need to Compromise on Either!

Wills & Halacha – No Need to Compromise on Either! Simon M. Jackson – Legal Advisor to Torah MiTzion www.jacksonadvocates.net   The Basic Halacha on Succession (Yerusha) According to Jewish Law, only male offspring are capable of inheriting their father’s estate. The Torah awards women no rights of inheritance as long as there are male heirs in the same class. So, daughters will not inherit if there are sons, and sisters will not inherit if there are brothers. (In tandem, … Continued

We’re All Individuals

Knowing as we do how careful and sparing the Torah is in its use of words, it is particularly surprising to read, in the second half of this week’s long parsha, how the Torah records each leader’s identical celebratory offering in honor of the Tabernacle. The uniformity of the twelve sets of gifts is absolute, each price seemingly being totally conformist to his predecessor.   The great Spanish commentator, Ramban, cites the Midrash, which explains, inter alia, that the idea … Continued

The Clothes We Wear: Dignity or Deceit?

The Clothes We Wear: Dignity or Deceit? הבגדים שאנו לובשים: לכבוד או לבגידה?   In Parshat Tetzave, Moshe is instructed to “make sacred clothes for your brother Aaron, for dignity and beauty… They will be used to consecrate him and make him a priest to Me.” (Shemot 28:2-3). As my Rav, Rabbi Meir Wise, notes in his impressive translation and adaptation of Rav Kook’s words in Ein Eyah (http://pathsofthewise.wordpress.com/):   “Clothing has a dual purpose. Its first function is utilitarian, … Continued

Do Angels Work?!

In our parsha, Balak, king of Mo’av, sends messengers (malachim) to Bil’am the son of B’or, to commission his services to curse Israel (Bamidbar 22:5-6). Bil’am reluctantly agrees. He goes with the princes of Mo’av. “But God’s anger flared up because he went, and the angel (malach) of God stationed himself on the path to bar his way…” (22:22).   What is an angel? Normally, we conjure up in our minds an angel as an ethereal heavenly figure, cloaked in white … Continued

D’var Torah – Thought on Tzara’at (Spiritual Leprosy)

One of my favorite Divrei Torah on this week’s double-Torah reading comes from my Yeshiva days in Yeshivat Har Etzion.   “If a person has on the skin of his flesh a rising or a scab or a bright spot… a plague on the head or upon the beard… and when the plague of leprosy is in a garment… and I put a plague of leprosy upon a house in the land of your possession…” (Vayikra 13:2, 13:29, 13:47, 14: … Continued

Quantity or Quality – Chaim Arukim or Aruchim?!

In the blessing for the new month, the Birkat HaChodesh prayer, we ask God to grant us “חיים ארוכים, lives of peace, of goodness, of blessing, of prosperity…”   What does חיים ארוכים mean?   Most translated siddurim, including the US Artscroll, the UK Singers/Authorised Daily Prayer Book and the Israeli Rinat Yisrael Siddur, read this phrase as Chaim AruKim, meaning “long life.”   Grammatically, it has been argued that even though the word appears to be vocalized as Aruchim, … Continued

Between “Vayikra” and Bamidbar”

The book of “Vayikra” is characterized by permanence, holiness (the Temple, the Cohanim, the People, the Land), of static encampment around the Temple, and the world it represents of eternal and timeless values, ideals and goals.   By contrast, the book of “Bamidbar” is permeated by dynamism, change and fluctuation (both of the camp and of the People in their moods), the present and being constantly “on the move,” roving through the barren wilderness.   In the Ramban’s words on … Continued

Berlin is Jerusalem

There is a very famous “Meshech Chochma” on this week’s second parsha, Bechukotai. On the Tochecha in Vayikra (26:44), R. Meir Simcha of Dvinsk 1843-1926) adds the following philosophical gloss: “If the Jew thinks that Berlin is Jerusalem … then a raging storm wind will uproot him by his trunk and subject him before a faraway gentile nation… a tempest will arise and spread its roaring waves, and swallow, and destroy, and flood forth without pity. Therefore, you will not … Continued

Me’ein or Ma’on HaBerachot?!

I liked the following insight that appeared in the Hebrew “Shabbat BeShabbato” pages this week (Parshat Naso, No. 1526), written by Ya’akov Etzion.   Ya’akov gives an innovative explanation for a phrase in Friday night davening that I have always found difficult. In the Magen Avot prayer after the Amidah, the following words appear: “we will give thanks to His name every day continuously, me’ein ha-berachot“.  What do these two last words actually mean? The Gemara (Berachot 40a) explains the … Continued

Why Are Most Jewish Objects Covered?! Recommended D’var Torah for Parshat Pekudei, by Rabbi S. Weiss

Question: WHY ARE MOST JEWISH OBJECTS COVERED? Answer: The Gemara (Ta’anit 8b) says, “blessing only rests on that which is hidden from the eye. Once it has been counted, its potential for blessing is lost.” And so, many of our ritual objects are covered: The Torah has a mantle over it & is kept in an Aron; the Aron itself has a Parochet/curtain; a Mezuza has a housing/bayit, as do Tefilin; a Megila is kept in a case; Matza on … Continued