Bamidbar / Shavuos 5780


Revealing the facets of the King[1]

איש על-דגלו באתת לבית אבתם יחנו בני ישראל מנגד סביב לאהל-מועד יחנו
The Children of Israel shall encamp, each person according to his flag, with signs according to their father’s house. They shall encamp opposite and surrounding the Tent of Meeting[2]

A significant amount of this week’s parsha describes the encampment of the Jewish people in the wilderness. In the center was the Mishkan, surrounded by the camp of the Leviim. Surrounding them were the rest of the nation, divided by their tribes. Each tribe had a specific cardinal location, with respect to the center point of the Mishkan. Each tribe is also described as having their own flag. These flags served as unique markers to distinguish each tribe from the other. They had different colors and patterns than each other[3]. However, Chazal teach us[4] that there was a greater significance to these flags than the Torah describes.

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Behar-Bechukosai 5780


The septennial Shabbos[1]

דבר אל-בני ישראל ואמרת אלהם כי תבאו אל-הארץ אשר אני נתן לכם ושבתה הארץ שבת ליקוק
Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: “When you come to the land that I am giving you, the land will rest a Shabbos for Hashem”[2]

This parsha begins by introducing the mitzvah of the Shemittah year. The land of Israel is to lie fallow for an entire year, with no agricultural work done to it. The year is described as a Shabbos for Hashem. What does that mean? Rashi suggests[3] that it means לשם השם, for the sake of Hashem. Regarding the Shabbos of the seventh day of the week, we also find[4] the expression “Shabbos for Hashem”. There it clearly means for the sake of Hashem[5], so that’s what it should mean here. The Ramban[6] has a problem with this, since we know the Festivals are also for the sake of Hashem. Yet, we don’t find the phrase “Shabbos for Hashem” associated with any of them. Is there any other way to understand this phrase[7]?

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Emor 5780


The desecration of ingratitude[1]

וכי-תזבחו זבח-תודה ליקוק לרצנכם תזבחו: ביום ההוא יאכל לא-תותירו ממנו עד-בקר אני יקוק: ושמרתם מצותי ועשיתם אותם אני יקוק: ולא תחללו את-שם קדשי ונקדשתי בתוך בני ישראל אני יקוק מקדשכם
When you offer a Todah offering for Hashem, it shall be offered in a way that is acceptable. It shall be eaten on that day; don’t leave any of it over until morning. I am Hashem. Safeguard my mitzvos, and perform them; I am Hashem. Don’t profane my Holy Name, and I shall be sanctified amongst the Children of Israel; I am Hashem, who sanctifies you.[2]

One type of offering that is brought in the Temple is known as a Todah offering. It consists of an animal that is offered, as well as many loaves of bread. All of these need to be consumed on the day that they are brought. After this offering is mentioned in the Torah, the prohibition against a chillul Hashem, profaning Hashem’s name, is commanded. What is the significance of this juxtaposition? What do these two mitzvos have to do with each other?

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