Sunday, August 28, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Listen to these stories. Behind them lies an extraordinary insight into the nature of Jewish ethics:
Story 1. Rabbi Abba used to bind money in his scarf, sling it on his back, and place it at the disposal of the poor. [Ketubot 67b]
Story 2. Mar Ukba had a poor man in his neighbourhood into whose door socket he used to throw four coins every day. Once the poor man thought, "I will go and see who does me this kindness." That day Mar Ukba stayed late at the house of study and his wife was coming home with him. As soon as the poor man saw them moving the door [to leave the coins] he ran out after them, but they fled from him and hid. Why did they do this? Because it was taught: One should throw himself into a fiery furnace rather than publicly put his neighbour to shame. [Ketubot 67b]
Story 3. When Rabbi Jonah saw a man of good family who had lost his money and was ashamed to accept charity, he would go and say to him, "I have heard that an inheritance has come your way in a city across the sea. So here is an article of some value. Sell it and use the proceeds. When you are more affluent, you will repay me." As soon as the man took it, Rabbi Jonah would say, "It's yours is a gift." [Vayikra Rabbah 34:1]
These stories all have to do with the mitzvah of tzedakah whose source is in this week's parsha:
If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need . . . Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land. [Deut. 15: 7-8, 10-11]
What we have here is a unique and still remarkable programme for the elimination of poverty.
Spiritual brothers Shlomo Katz and Rabbi Lazer Brody sing about how good it is to thank Hashem, the opening words of Psalm 92, in an evening of song and inspiration in Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
........... http://rebshlomocarlebach.blogspot.com/ ..... Reb Shlomo Carlebach the Alphabet & the letters story
Thursday, August 18, 2011
What is the real challenge of maintaining a free society? In parshat Ekev, Moses springs his great surprise. Here are his words:
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Since the vastness of the desert teaches us our insignificance, it is consequently conducive to humility. But, even something so simple and humble as a Bedouin flute - a reed with six holes - can play sweet music when used properly.
In the video, Rabbi Lazer is wearing a Bedouin "kaffiyeh" - this is not making any political statement - it's just good protection from the blazing sun and searing winds of the desert.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Why does the book of Devarim have the structure it does: a mix of history, law, recollection and anticipation?
The sages knew that Devarim had a clear structure. Elsewhere in the Torah some rabbis used the principle of semikhut haparshiyot -- that we can learn something from the fact that passage Y occurs immediately after passage X. Others however did not, because there is a rule, ein mukdam umu'achar baTorah, meaning, the Torah does not always follow a strict chronological sequence. So we cannot always attach significance to the fact that the passages are in the order they are. However, everyone agrees that there is precise order and structure in the book of Devarim (Berakhot 21b). But what is the order?
Second: the sages originally called Devarim Mishneh Torah, a "second law". Hence the Latin name Deuteronomy, which means, the second law. But in what sense is Devarim a second law? Some of the laws Moses states in the book have appeared before, others have not. Is it a repetition of the laws Moses received at Sinai and the Tent of Meeting? Is it something new? What exactly is the meaning of Mishneh Torah?
Third: what is the book doing here? It represents the speeches Moses delivered in the last month of his life to the generation who would cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land. Why is it included in the Torah at all? If the Torah is a history book, then we should proceed directly from the end of Bamidbar, the arrival of the Israelites at the banks of the river Jordan, to the book of Joshua, when they crossed the river and began their conquest of the land. If the Torah is a book of law, then Devarim should just be a collection of laws without all the historical reminiscence and prophecy it contains.
What kind of book is Devarim and what is its significance to the Torah as a whole.