Sightseeing in the Parsha - Cholot Chalutza

The last Haftara of the “seven Haftoros of comfort” deals with the prophecy of Yeshayahu about the redemption that is destined to come in the end of days. One of the motifs that the prophet mentions as a sign of redemption is “No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate”. It is true as the prophets said right after the start of the exile, the land of Israel is left deserted and desolate for thousands of years and despite repeated attempts of many nations to settle the holy land the land remained desolate. With the beginning of the ingathering of exiles and building up the land the settlers refounded many ancient settlements that were left in ruins when the Jews were exi

Rosh Hashana

וּבַחֹ֨דֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֜י בְּאֶחָ֣ד לַחֹ֗דֶשׁ מִֽקְרָא־קֹ֙דֶשׁ֙ יִהְיֶ֣ה לָכֶ֔ם כָּל־מְלֶ֥אכֶת עֲבֹדָ֖ה לֹ֣א תַעֲשׂ֑וּ י֥וֹם תְּרוּעָ֖ה יִהְיֶ֥ה לָכֶֽם.. When we read the psukim about Rosh Hashana we can immediately notice that the information given to us is very minimalistic. Unlike other holidays, the Torah doesn’t really tell us what are we supposed to do. While speaking of Sukkot, for example, the Torah tells us, in detail, all that we need to know about the Arba’at Ha’minim, but here the Torah doesn’t say much. Hardly anything, in fact. The fact is that the only evidence the gemara ( ראש השנה) finds that we are supposed to blow the shofar on Rosh Hashana is from מצוות היובל. The immedia

Chavruta of the Week: Marcus Rehany and Mordechai Hadad

Marcus and I take advantage of the time we put away our Tefilin to learn every morning after Shacharit. We learn the Halachot most relevant to the time. For example, we are now learning about Rosh Hashana Davening. We also try not to get in the way of Jojo and Rani who are busy preparing the tables and chairs for Rav Singer’s class. Dvar Torah In the beginning of this parsha we have the mitzvah of bikkurim. This mitzvah teaches us the importance of recognizing actions done for us. This is true more so in bikkurim than other mitzvot of the land. When somebody brings bikkurim he must tell Hashem that he brought his first fruits as he was commanded. Rashi explains the purpose of this announcem

Sightseeing in the Parsha - Har Nevo

Towards the end of the Parsha, following the Blessings and curses that Moshe addressed to Am Israel, begins a brief historical description of leaving Egypt and everything that happened in the desert. The description ends with the journey of occupation that Moshe led on the eastern side of the Jordan river - the kingdoms of Sichon and Og. those areas turned into the settlements of Reuven Gad and half of Menashe. Although Am Yisrael continued to look into Eretz Yisrael, but the shevatim that inherited the eastern side of the Jordan river weren’t allowed to settle in their new home, rather they continued fighting with the rest of Israel to capture the rest of the promised land. Only when they w

Expanding Circles - Ki Tavo

“And now I brought the first fruits of the land which you Hashem gave me.” In the Parsha we see one of the summits of happiness and prosperity, to which a Jew can reach. The Torah describes to us the remarkable event of bringing bikurim and the special requirement of reading Parshat Habikurim. The requirement of Bikurim, to specifically bring the first fruits of your toil, teaches a special affinity between the private field and the Beit Hamikdash. The expectation of us to attach, even to physically bring, our unique and special fruits to that chosen and sanctified place teaches us that there is an essential connection which seems to expand and to improve the circles of man’s life. In the t

Chavruta of the Week: Yehuda Bessner and Yitzhak Weiss

Yehuda Bessner Since the school year has started I've been learning about various concepts on tefillah. This includes the importance of having cavanah during davening vs saying the words without any meaning. The book I’ve been learning emphasizes the importance of praying with Kavanah especially in times of need in order to become closer to hashem and create an everlasting relationship with him. It is great to learn about this since I feel a personal connection to a lot of these lessons and it is helping me improve in my own davening significantly Yitzhak Weiss When I got to Montreal, on the first day of school Yehuda Bessner came to me and asked me to learn with him for several minutes dur

Sightseeing in the Parsha - Yavne

In this weeks Parsha there is an interesting combination between a sectorial interpersonal rule system and the commandments between Man and god. Together they illustrate for us the Jewish judicial and ethical system. Following these Parshiot, generations of judges sat in the bureau of the Sanhedrin in Yerushalayim, where they judged the nation honestly. Thus functioned the Jewish high court until they were forced to leave Yerushalayim following the destruction of the second Beit Mikdash. The Sanhedrin began to wander around. Finally after a few decades of wandering the Sanhedrin and the traditional judicial system ceased to function. The first city that the Sanhedrin wandered to was Yavne,

Respecting our Words - Ki Teitze

'מוצא שפתיך תשמור ועשית כאשר נדרת לה In the middle of our parasha we are, once again, told about the importance and even the danger of fulfilling our oaths. The Torah warns us that if we have sworn or accepted an obligation we should, with all means possible, implement it. In the Gemara, Chazal even say that it is better not to commit by swearing than never swearing- even if you did manage to fulfil your oath every single time. This policy can be understood as precocious advice the Torah is giving us. Don’t risk yourself by trying or seeking after new adventures and new ways of spiritual life. But this policy can be also devastating. Instead of encouraging people to try to achieve new goal

Sightseeing in the Parsha - Mitzpeh

For many years the world has been occupied with discovering the best form of of government. In this week's Parsha there is a dialogue about Crowning a king amongst the Jews, as an ideal or as a default. Hundreds of years later, when Bnei Yisroel are living in the various territories of Israel we see the need arises from the wise of the nation, to have a king who will rule continually after a period of many changing leaders (the Shoftim). The first to be appointed to this position is Saul Hamelech. After a thorough inquiry into the need and Gods commandment to appoint Saul king, Saul pubicly crowns himself in a main city of Binyamins territory called “Mitzpeh”. There are different opinions a

Striving For Justice - Shoftim

Immediately after stating the importance of a vital and dynamic legal system the Torah states the following: צדק צדק תרדוף למען תחיה וירשת את הארץ. Meaning that in order to inherit the promised land, one should seek justice. חז"ל were fascinated with the duplication of the word צדק therefore we can find numerous drashot on this phrase. In general חז"ל understood that this duplication is pointing to a constant search for an underlying truth. רש"י ,for example, explains the duplication as a demand to make a bigger effort to seek justice, such as seeking a better בית דין to go to. הספורנו , on the other hand, focuses on the type of men appointed as judges, that they must be the best peop

Parshat Re'eh

פרשת ראה starts with a great similarity to פרשת עקב. Moshe lays down the simple contract between עם-ישראל and הקב"ה, but this parsha provides us with two very different strategies to accomplish the great mission, of living as Hashem’s nation. The parsha starts with a strategy of differing and dividing. Negative phenomenon are dealt with in powerful ways, with the intention of making sure that the problem ends quickly, without getting out of hand. For example, the phenomenon of עיר הנדחת in which a holy city fell off-track, is dealt with harshly, with a very rare punishment. We are told to abolish this city, so even the trees and assets cannot be left. 'ואת כל שללה תקבוץ'. We could have su

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