Balak – Coddling Curses

There’s a question that begs to be asked at the very start of the parsha, about Balak’s determination to curse the Jews: Why? I don’t mean what motivated him. That is clear in the...

Chukas – Choose Your Weapon

Approaching the land of Edom, Moshe Rabbeinu sends messengers to the region’s king, requesting passage through his land. Moshe reminds Esav’s descendant of how his ancestor’s brother’s descendants had sojourned in Mitzrayim for “many...

Korach – Democracy and Its Discontents

Few contrasts in the Torah are as stark as the one between Moshe Rabbeinu and Korach. The latter is propelled by jealousy, a blinding sense of self (and self-entitlement). And, like populists who followed,...

Shelach – The Import of an “It”

The Torah’s narratives are pertinent to every generation. But certain accounts resonate particularly blatantly in certain times. Like the saga of the ma’apilim, the “insisters,” those Jews in the desert who repented of having...

Biha’aloscha – Being Aharon

Something special about Aharon HaCohein is telegraphed in the sentence “And Aharon did so,” after Moshe’s brother receives instructions about lighting the menorah in the Mishkan (Bamidbar 8:3). Rashi, paraphrasing Sifri, comments: “This tells...

Naso – Kosher Favoritism

To some, chumros, or stringencies beyond what halacha requires, are always laudable. But in the Vidui Rabbeinu Nissim, recited on Yom Kippur Katan, we confess, amid actual sins, that “What You declared pure I declared impure… what...

Bamidbar – High Security

The census of the Levi’im differs from that of the other shevatim, in that the latter counted only males 20 years of age or older while the former included even 30-day-old babies. The inclusion...

Bechukosai – Embracing Simplicity

While there are various Midrashic comments on what “chukos” – the embrace of which leads to the overflowing blessings described at the start of the parsha – refers to, the simple meaning of the...

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Response to Rav Feldman

Quite literally, Rav Aharon Feldman, shlit”a, is a gentleman and a scholar. I know the former from personal experience. Despite the fact that ani hakatan have taken issue with things he’s said or written...

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