July 2017

Parashat Devarim - Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22

Moses and the Rabbis

Our parashah begins the final book of the Torah, the book of Deuteronomy. Sometimes the book of Deuteronomy is also known as Mishneh Torah, or the Repetition of Torah, since it contains a recap of many of the major themes included the previous books of the Torah. It also begins by recounting the various events that have taken place among the Children of Israel since the Exodus. A curious statement is made, however, that we must explore:

Render to God (Avot 3:8)

Rabbi Elazar of Bartota said: Render to Him that which is His, for you and all that you have are His, as David said [I Chronicles 29:14]: “For all things come from You, and of Your own have we given you.” (m.Avot 3:8)

In his commentary on this passage, Rabbi Marc Angel associates this mishnah with a passage from a midrashic commentary called Yalkut Shimoni. It says:

The world was created in the merit of three things: in the merit of [the mitzvot of] halla, tithes, and first fruits (Yalkut Shimoni, Gen. 1:2).

Parashat Mattot-Massei: Numbers 30:2-36:13

Adding To The Scriptures

Many people take objection to the concept of rabbinic authority and the corpus of Jewish law, which includes the Mishnah and Talmud. They see these rabbinic works as “adding” manmade laws to the Scriptures, because indeed they contain countless laws that do not seem to appear in the Scriptures themselves. Therefore, these rabbinic works are seen as violating one of the primary principles of Scripture, to not add to the Scripture. The prooftext for this prohibition is found in Deuteronomy:

Parashat Pinchas - Numbers 25:10-30:1

The Price of Peace

In last week’s portion we learned about the prophet Balaam and how he was not able to curse Israel in a direct manner. Every time he opened his mouth to curse Israel, it would be filled with blessings instead. Nevertheless, at the end of last week’s Torah portion we learned that Moab was somehow able to have a destructive impact on the Children of Israel:

Parashat Balak - Numbers 22:2 - 25:9

What Is Your Super Power?

Parashat Balak introduces us to one of the most enigmatic figures of the entire Bible—the prophet Balaam. What can we learn from him? Let’s revisit his story and then draw some practical application from it.