Saturday, 18 March 2017

Pekudei: The Cloud

Originally published 2/28/09, 5:50 PM, Eastern Daylight Time.
From the archives of Nishma's Online Library, we have chosen an article that relates to the week's parsha, both to direct you to this dvar Torah but also for the purposes of initiating some discussion.

This week's parsha is Pekudei and our topic is the cloud over the Ohel Mo'ed. It is really not so simple to assume that it symbolizes God's Presence.

We invite you to further look at this issue at
http://www.nishma.org/articles/insight/insight5769-22.htm

Vayakhel: The Motivation for Giving

Originally published 2/28/09, 5:50 PM, Eastern Daylight Time.

From the archives of Nishma's Online Library, we have chosen an article that relates to the week's parsha, both to direct you to this dvar Torah but also for the purposes of initiating some discussion.

This week's parsha is Vayakhel. The topic is tzedakah, specifically how we decide to distribute our funds for worthwhile causes. There are always more needs than available funds, so how do we determine priorities? Where would you put the call to give toward the Mishkan in a world of competing needs?

We invite you to look at an article on this genaral topic at
http://www.nishma.org/articles/insight/insight5757-10.html

Monday, 13 March 2017

Parsha: Ki Tisa, "Aaron's Honour"


We need not be overly judgmental re: Aharon's role in the Eigel Masecha when we read the following:
What's with the sarcasm against Aharon? Yes, the making of the gold into the form of a calf was, as per Rashi to 32:4, not Aharon's doing (it was done by Egyptian magicians or by Micha, as the case may be). So according to this, he could indeed correctly say: "All I did was throw the gold into the fire, and as far as I was concerned it would have just melted there into a big blob; others are to blame for the actual making of the calf.
Same thing with "hisparaku." True that Aharon tells the people "paraku," but in a transitive rather than a reflexive sense: "take off the golden rings from your wives', sons', and daughters' ears..." - but not from your own. Whereas the next verse continues that they instead brought him their own jewelry: "vayisparaku" - a reflexive form - "all of the people took off the gold rings in their ears..." (Rashi makes this point explicitly in his commentary to 32:2.) So Aharon's description in 32:24 is indeed in keeping with this. "I asked only 'lemi zahav' - go see who in your families has gold available; but 'hisparaku,' they took off their own earrings, which I had not expected."
In short, then, Aharon is giving a quite accurate summary of what happened, distinguishing between what he did (asking for people to bring their families' gold, throwing it in the fire) and what he did not do (having them bring their own gold, making the calf). He's not trying to mislead Moshe. If anything, he leaves out other considerations in his own favor, such as his fear for his life after seeing Chur murdered for opposing them (Rashi to 32:5).

Kol tuv,
- Alex Heppenheimer
- aheppenh@yahoo.com
-Mahpach list
- Reproduced with the permission of Alex Heppenheimer

When in doubt - give our "icons" a break.

Shalom, RRW

P. Ki Tissa - Rashi on Ki Shicheit Amcha

A liberal friend of mine would like to advance a correspondingly liberal conversion policy that is contrary to GPS and other more restrictive policies.

What does Rashi say about such kind-heartedness?

Ki Tisa 22:7 D"H "Ki. Shicheit Amcha"

Hashem talking to Moshe -
"You went ahead and converted them w/o consulting ME and said 'good that the converts should embrace the Sh'china' those are the ones who caused this corruption"

I'm sure that nevertheless Hashem does embrace Geirim. However, the context here is that Moshe accepted a mass of Geirim who were motivated by the Wonders of the Exodus and not by a solid yearning to embrace Hashem and the Jewish People - in stark contrast to Ruth! This "Erev Rav" was composed of "front-runners", not sincere proselytes

The Road to 'H..L' is paved with Good Intentions. Moshe's Chessed lacked the necessary restriction, and his liberalism introduced a corrupting influence, that would eventually serve as an internal fifth column

The history of the events here is not essential. What is essential is Hazal's attitude of warning us of the danger of being inclusive w/o weighing the potential negative consequences

Of course HOW restrictive we should be is a matter for discussion. It is only natural to react to a failed policy in either direction, namely either too exclusive or too inclusive


Shalom
RRW

H. Ki Tissa - Eliyahu's Ultimatum

Note: Since Haftarat Pinchas discusses Eliyahu, I took the liberty to refer to another Haftarah starring Eliyahu Hanavi.

Eliyahu:
If Hashem is your G-d then worship HIM
If Bal is your god worship IT

RRW's corollary:
If Torah is your Guide then follow THAT
If the New York Times* is your guide then follow THAT.
---
* or Political Correctness

--------------------
BE"H I will try to show how modernity may fit in

Shalom,
RRW

Parsha Ki Tissa: Moses’ Horns is Not a Mistranslation

«Most commentators have simply said that Jerome mistranslated "keren" as "horned" rather than  "radiant."  But Bena Elisha Medjuck, a McGill University Department of Jewish Studies graduate student, offered a more complex explanation in his 1988 thesis "Exodus 34:29-35: Moses' 'Horns' in Early Bible Translation and Interpretation."[1]  Medjuck explains that Jerome was well-acquainted both with the variant meanings of "keren" and with the prevailing translation of his contemporary Jewish scholars – with whom he consulted!   Jerome chose the "horned" translation as metaphor faithful to the text: a depiction of Moses' strength and authority, and a glorification of the Lord!  Jerome even explained this in his accompanying commentary!  

Horns were almost universally viewed by ancient civilizations as symbols of power, not as the negative or demonic symbols they became for Christians thousands of years later.  For example, both Alexander the Great and Attila the Hun were described as wearing horns.  Mellinkoff reminds us that horned helmets were often worn by priests and kings, with the horns connoting that divine power and authority had been bestowed upon them.  


Moreover, in his book Did Moses Really Have Horns? (URJ Press, 2009) Rabbi Dr. Rifat Sonsino reminds us that the Hebrew Bible contains many other references to "horns" as symbols of power and authority....»


Ki Tissa: Moses' Horns: Not a Mistranslation > Rabbi Dr. Art Levine
http://rabbiartlevine.com/Home/tabid/2652/ID/840/Ki-Tissa-Moses-Horns-Not-a-Mistranslation.aspx


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Parsha: Ki Tisa, "Life is Complex"


It's in the Nishma tagline: Life is complex, Torah is complex etc.
Rabbi Hecht and I share a synchronicity on complexity. 

 People are seeking the old black-and-white solutions that made magic popular 1,000 years ago and dictators popular about 70 years ago. We seem to be drifting towards a new Dark Ages. Perhaps this is why Roshei Yeshiva are now being invested with "rebbe"-like infallibility -an absolute anathema to misnagidic thinking!

Anyhow - in the parsha -  we see that all 600,000+ adult Israelites were labelled with the guilt for the "Molten Calf" except for the Levi'im, Yehoshua,  women and children. Yet the Levite-produced carnage amounted to a mere 3,000 souls. This was less than 1/60 the of the total. Therefore, rabbinic thinking should deem it a nullified trivial measure!

Hazal have explained that there was not just one level of guilt, but at least 3 levels:
  1. Those who sinned with witnesses and warning
  2. Those who sinned with witnesses and NO warning
  3. Those who sinned without witnesses
There is also another hierarchy:
The Eirev Rav instigated the sin and were the ones who first started sinning. Some Israelites joined along, while some just watched without any Pinchas-like protest. Therefore, while only 3,000 Israelites were guilty of the actual sin of serving idols, the collective guilt of acquiescence or of condoning was nationwide.

This leads us to consider that not every guilt or culpability is morally equivalent. To say that since Andy Pettite was not 100% forthcoming at first makes him as big a liar as the Rocket or as McNamee is mis-leading and ingenuous. There are degrees of guilt. Fault is not a black and white continuum. There are also levels of honesty. While few humans bat 1.000 in the honesty department, not all are compulsive liars either!

That said: culpability is a funny thing! Many "public Jews" have railed that the world was silent about the Holocaust whilst it transpired, yet many - myself included - are silent as a slaughter occurs in Darfur.

A Hong Kong native who owns a Chinese restaurant lamented to me: Jews had a Holocaust . What about the Chinese!? Indeed, he is correct. In the aftermath of the Jimmy Doolittle raid "40 seconds over Tokyo" Japanese soldiers exacted revenge on 250,000 Chinese over the next few weeks. Nanking was raped!

Who in the West cares to comment!? In fact, most North Americans buy the Euro-Centric version of WWII. They begin at Hitler's invasion of Poland, almost completely ignoring Japan's occupation of China, not to mention Manchuria, etc.

Even in Europe, the Italian invasion of Abyssinia and the Spanish Civil War were surely part of the WWII cluster of the battles of the dictators! The point is, while standing silently by is not the same level of culpability as committing the dirty deed, nevertheless culpability there is indeed! Woe to all of us for not doing our best to protest

Shalom,
RRW

The "Oat Brit" Linguisitic Pattern

The "Oat Brit" [Os Bris] Pattern

First - please see these sections

P B'reishis     R'vii 4:15
P. Noach     Hamishi 9:5-17
P. Lech Lecha     Shishi-Sh'vii 17:2-21
P. Ki Tissa     End of Rishon 31:13-17
In the last 3 Oat and Brit [Os and Bris] appear in tandem, often repeatedly. Re: Kayin, only "Oat"

Q:
Have any "Parshanim" connected all of these dots together?
EG the number of times Oat and Brit are used? The sequencing?

For a limited example -
See Torah Temimah on Lech Lecha 17:11 quoting a Meimra from Rav Nachman bar Yitzchok in TB: Shabbat 132a, concerning "Meelah docheh Shabbos" which addresses a small subset of this pattern.


Kol Tuv,
RRW