And the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you” Bereishit 12:1
It all seems a little bit redundant, doesn’t it? Why couldn’t Abram have just been told to go forth, or go forth from his land, or go forth from his land and his birthplace, and so on and so on. Wouldn’t a simpler statement, GO, have been simpler, more to the point? Continue reading →
Last Wednesday a man drove a car into a crowd of people waiting at the Ammunition Hill light rail station, killing a three month old baby girl and wounding 8 others. A newspaper reported that evening “Israeli police shoot man in East Jerusalem”. I read that the family was on their way back from the Kotel, after bringing their daughter there for the first time.
One of the people injured in the attack was a 22 year old Ecuadorian woman who had come to Jerusalem to study. She died on Sunday from her injuries.
I live 0.93 miles from the Green Line. For those who don’t know what that means, I live, in a perfectly normal suburban(ish) area that is less than a mile from an area that is called by some “occupied.” An area that looks just like this, and many other cities, and yet if anyone builds there, it causes an outcry. An area sensitive enough that many would die for it.
These are the generations of Noah. Noah was in his generations a man righteous and whole-hearted; Noah walked with God. (Gen. 6:9)
Our parshah opens up with what seems like a very simple verse: Noah was a righteous man, who had a relationship with God. However, nearly all the classic commentators ask one very important question: if the verse wanted to convey that Noah was righteous, why not simply write
״נח איש צדיק תמים. את האלהים התהלך נח״
“Noah was a righteous and whole-hearted man; Noah walked with God.”
Why does the verse specifically mention that he was righteous in his generation?
It was a sweet irony that during a break in my Gemara shiur yesterday, I found out that my first teacher of rabbinic texts, Reb Judith, as she was affectionately called, died suddenly of a heart attack the day before. She would have appreciated that, with a patented mischievous laugh and twinkle in her eye, wanting to be with “her guys,” as she referred to the talmudic sages, in the news of her death as much as she had been during her life. I want to dedicate this occasional series of posts reviewing my learning to her memory, that she may have a quick passage to the Beit Midrash On High.
Any great insights herein are my teachers’, and any mistakes are my own.
I’d like you for a minute to imagine the scenario. Hashem sent a message to the whole world that they were not acting right. How did he send the message? He killed all of them except one family and few animals. The heavens opened and it rained for forty days and forty nights. Just imagine the worst rainstorm you’ve ever experienced and then think, what would it have been like if it had lasted forty days? Personally, extreme weathers give me a taste of Hashem’s power. We humans have no ways of stopping extreme weather and to me that puts the world into proportion.
Over sukkot, I found myself in New York, running through Union Square to meet a friend. I was running late, laden down with packages (a necessity of every visit to Manhattan), when I was stopped by a man holding a lulav and etrog and asking every passerby who’d listen if they were Jewish. Some people avoided eye contact with him, awkwardly skirting around the man in a black hat and coat on an unseasonably warm day, standing in front of his sukkah on the busy corner. However, years of growing up in New York and living in Jerusalem have given me familiarity with all of these elements, so I made eye contact, letting him know that I am in fact, a Member of the Tribe. Instantly, he came over to me, holding out his lulav, and immediately asking me to come into the sukkah and fulfill the mitzvot of Sukkot.
“The Lord God made grow out of the ground every tree that is pleasant to look at and good to eat, [including] the Tree of Life in the middle of the garden, and the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil.”
This verse is the cause of probably the most infamous incident in the entire Torah: what is generally called the Sin in the Garden. Some of the biggest questions to be asked about this whole episode is why would God create this situation, and what then was his ultimate plan? These are very big questions, and their answers help us to understand the fundamental nature of Creation.
When I arrived at Pardes in 2012, I had already been out of college for two years. I have to admit, during those two years between college and Pardes I was pretty lazy. I spent a few hours teaching at religious schools, and a few hours applying for jobs while living with my parents. It was relaxed. So, when I came to Pardes, where we spent sometimes up to 12 hours a day studying, it took quite a bit of adjusting. Of course, this is true for almost anyone, being that college is also quite relaxed compared to a schedule devoted to Torah study. I got used to it though, and began to discover just how much I loved it.