As a Talmudist at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, I have long been accustomed to fantastical tales about the discovery of ancient manuscripts of the Babylonian Talmud. That famous picture of Schechter in the Geniza hangs everywhere in our halls. We are taught from the beginning not only to read Raphael Nathan Rabinovitch’s Dikdukei Soferim, but to imagine him on some Sunday morning in Rome, unlocking the Vatican Apostolic Library with his own set of keys, sitting down to transcribe Vatican 109 by candlelight. We hear of our own Haim Zalman Dimitrovsky, who supervised the doctorates of so many of our own teachers (Shamma Friedman, Mayer Rabinowitz, Joel Roth, and Burton L. Visotzky among countless others), roaming the monasteries of Italy, excato knife in hand, no binding safe from the search for more Seridei Bavli. And yet, we are accustomed to thinking that the time for…
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Rav Shlomo Wolbe zt’l — “The Mashgiach” — was one of the towering Torah personalities of the twentieth century, the quintessential educator who helped take the torch of the pre-war Mussar Movement and reignite it in the modern world. His teachings and his many sefarim, including Alei Shur, are classics of Jewish thought and hashkafah, studied and beloved throughout the Torah world.
For decades, Rav Wolbe gave regular discourses on the Torah, focusing his penetrating insight, broad knowledge, and profound understanding on the weekly parashah. In Rav Wolbe on Chumash Rabbi Yitzchok Caplan, Rav Wolbe’s grandson, has collected Rav Wolbe’s teachings, both from his weekly lectures and from his many sefarim, and melded them into a deep and yet accessible Torah work.
Rav Wolbe on Chumash is a perfect book for the Shabbos table, or for any time we want to follow the wise guidance of this revered master of…
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Synopsis of Lech-Lecha
After humanity’s dispersion from the Tower of Babel, the original traditions of morality and monotheism were only preserved by select individuals. Responding to Abraham’s efforts to restore the world’s monotheism, G-d informs him that he has been selected to found the chosen people and instructs him to settle in the Promised Land.
Reaching the True Self
G-d said to Abraham, “go…”
Although Abraham’s accomplishments in spreading Divine consciousness so far had been impressive, they had been limited by the fact that he was speaking only from his personal convictions and reasoning.
All this changed when G-d spoke to Abraham. His first words to him were literally “Go, to you,” meaning “Go to your true, higher self, the self you could never reach on your own.” Through these words, G-d made Abraham into a person who could progress beyond his own abilities.
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Chapter 5, Mishna 11(c)
By Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld
“Pestilence comes to the world for death penalties mentioned in the Torah which are not in the hands of the courts [to administer] and for [the forbidden use of] Sabbatical year produce. The sword comes to the world for the delay of justice, the perversion of justice, and for those who expound the Torah not in accordance with Jewish law. Wild beasts come to the world for false oaths and the desecration of G-d’s Name. Exile comes to the world for idolatry, adultery, murder, and the working of the earth on the Sabbatical year.”
In the previous two classes, we discussed the concept of pestilence and the justice behind such a punishment — how it can be that G-d sometimes appears to judge in broad strokes, sweeping away the innocent together with the guilty. As several readers pointed out, the…
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Tonight (Thursday night), during Arvit prayers of the Seventh of Marcheshvan, we shall begin to request rain in the Amida prayer (in the Land of Israel; the law for those outside of Israel will be discussed further). Let us therefore review some of these pertinent laws.
The Enactment of the Sages to Request Rain
Our Sages enacted that one must request dew and rain from Hashem during the rainy season in the “Blessing of the Years” found in the Amida prayer (ninth blessing of the Amida). In Israel, we begin requesting rain from the night of the Seventh of Marcheshvan.
“The Blessing of the Years” is a blessing which includes mankind’s collective need to be showered with abundance from Heaven. Included in this blessing is a prayer for one’s livelihood and that blessing rest in all that we do.
In Israel, we must always begin requesting rain on the Seventh…
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In the previous Halachot we have explained that fruits and vegetables that grow in fields owned by Jews in Israel during the Shemitta year retain the sanctity of Shevi’it. We have also explained that one may not cause loss or destruction to the fruits of Shevi’it.
Peeling Shevi’it Produce
One may peel fruits and vegetables which retain Shevi’it sanctity the same way one would on other years and one need not make sure not to peel off small amount of the fruit along with the peel. Nevertheless, one must make sure to peel only fruits which are usually eaten peeled, such as bananas, melons, cucumbers, apples, and the like. However, fruits and vegetables usually eaten with their peel, such as tomatoes, apricots, and the like, may not be peeled.
It is likewise permissible to peel of rotten parts of the fruit with a knife although doing so will inevitably cause…
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