Author: Avi Shafran

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...

Behar – The Torah’s Take on a Stitch in Time

Folk maxims reflect truths, which is why the Talmud often invokes such aphorisms with the introduction“kidi’amri inshi” – “as people are wont to say.” One valuable truth is the subject of two English sayings...

Emor – Living in Our Own Worlds

Any “blemish” on a list of congenital or acquired conditions prevents service in the Mishkan or Beis Hamikdash (Vayikra  21:17-24). And there are dozens of other non-listed disqualifying blemishes (see Rashi, ibid 21, and...

Metzora – Miserly Mindset

We instinctively think of nega’im as born of lashon hora, “evil speech,” and we’re not wrong. But there is another birther of the condition, one that is evident in the very word metzora: tzarus...

Tazria – Speech Pathology

Tum’ah, or “ritual defilement,” is invisible but consequential in many contexts, especially, though not exclusively, with regard to kodoshim, material holding holy status. And, in most cases of tum’ah impartation, the defilement happens as...

Shemini – Beware Phony Frumkeit

When describing the camel and pig, animals that lack either of the two signs required for their species to be considered consumable by Jews, the Torah’s wording is odd. Kosher species require cud-chewing and...

Tzav – The Constancy of His Kindnesses 

Among the various karbanos called shelamim, two are very limited regarding when their meat and accompaniments must be consumed – the day they are offered. Regular shelamim are permitted double that window of time....

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