Vayikra / Zachor 5779


Developing love for Hashem[1]

דבר אל-בני ישראל ואמרת אלהם אדם כי-יקריב מכם קרבן ליקוק וגו’‏
Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: “A person, when they [want to] bring an offering to Hashem…”[2]

We find many mitzvos that aren’t outright obligations. Instead, the Torah left it up to the volunteering of the individual. For example, with the donations to the Mishkan, the Torah specified[3] for each person to give as much as they wanted. We also see this by voluntary offerings, such as with the Olah (elevation), Shelamim (peace), or Menachos (flour) offerings. There’s no absolute obligation to bring these offerings, but they’re available for those who want to take advantage. How much terumah a person wants to give to the Kohen is essentially their choice. These types of mitzvos require clarification. If they are part of our Divine service, why weren’t their performance made obligatory, and their quality and quantity well-defined? If they are not part of our Divine service, why are they even taught in the Torah?

Continue reading “Vayikra / Zachor 5779”

Va’eira 5779


The vicious cycle of anger[1]

ויט אהרן את-ידו על מימי מצרים ותעל הצפרדע ותכס את-ארץ מצרים
Aharon held out his arm over the water of Egypt, and the frog came up and covered the land of Egypt[2]

The second of the ten plagues was the plague of frogs. The frogs were everywhere. They were in the Egyptians’ households, including their kitchens and bedrooms[3]. Miraculously, they even entered the Egyptians; bodies and croaked in their digestive tracks[4]. The verse that introduces the plague has a grammatical oddity. It says that the frog came up and covered the land of Egypt. Why is this word in the singular? The simple explanation[5] is that sometimes things that are great in number are described in the singular. This is because when they are on-mass, they appear to be one giant force to be reckoned with. This is what happened in Egypt.

Continue reading “Va’eira 5779”

Lech Lecha 5779

The unknown destination[1]

ואמר יקוק אל-אברם לך-לך מארצך וממולדתך ומבית אביך אל-הארץ אשר אראך
Hashem said to Avram: “Go for yourself from your land, from your birthplace, from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you”[2]

This week’s parsha contains the first record of Hashem interacting with Avraham, our forefather[3]. It was a command for him to leave everything behind, and to travel to the (future) land of Israel. This land was for his future descendants to inherit as their own. This was considered one of Avraham’s ten tests[4], which he passed successfully. He had to abandon his entire family, save for his wife Sarah and nephew Lot[5]. Avraham, who was the pillar of chessed, lovingkindness, could be accused of neglecting to take care of his aging father[6]. Nevertheless, he followed the word of Hashem.

Continue reading “Lech Lecha 5779”