Tefillin – A Sign and Reminder of Greater Things

וְהָיָה לְךָ לְאוֹת עַל-יָדְךָ, וּלְזִכָּרוֹן בֵּין עֵינֶיךָ, לְמַעַן תִּהְיֶה תּוֹרַת ה’, בְּפִיךָ: כִּי בְּיָד חֲזָקָה, הוֹצִאֲךָ ה’ מִמִּצְרָיִם (שמות יג,ט) “And if shall be for you a sign on your hand and a reminder between your eyes – so that God’s Torah may be in your mouth…” (Shemot 13:9) The classical interpretation of this verse (see Rashi and Ramban) is that the Torah is commanding us to place the Tefillin, containing the four sections from the Torah that speak about … Continued

Did you ever wonder why we don’t mention Chanuka or Purim in Al HaMichya?!

On Chanuka (and Purim), we add the special Al HaNissim prayer in the Amidah and Birkat HaMazon. We don’t, however, make any mention of Chanuka (or Purim) in the bracha of Al HaMichya (etc). Why not? This question bothered me for a long time. In his excellent and highly readable new book, “Hilkhot Mo’adim – Understanding the Laws of the Festivals” (Maggid Books, 2013), R. David Brofsky gives two interesting explanations. The first is suggested by the Levush, R. Mordechai … Continued

D’var Torah for Sukkot – Water and Wine Compared

Wine libations (nisuch ha’yayin) accompanied most individual and public sacrifices, that were offered on a daily basis in the Beit HaMikdash (see Bamidbar 15:3-5). On Sukkot, water libations (nisuch ha’mayim) were also brought. According to the Gemara (Sukkah 34a) and the Rambam (Hilchot Temidin u’Mussafin 10:6), the mitzvah of nisuch ha’mayim is a Halacha Le’Moshe Mi’Sinai, i.e. a law taught orally to Moshe on Har Sinai, which cannot be derived from the Written Torah. However, Rabbi Akiva (Zevachim 110b) disagrees, … Continued