The Puzzle of the Fours

Four questions. Four sons. Four expressions of geulah. Four cups of wine. Dam (=44) was placed, in Mitzrayim, on the doorway (deles, “door,” being the technical spelling of the letter daled, whose value is four). Moving...

Metzora – Not Just the Kitchen Sink

I once witnessed an amusing exchange between a mother and her four- or five-year-old daughter. The former, trying to do some cooking with the child underfoot, told the little person, “You need to leave...

Tazria – The Little Man Who Wasn’t There

“On the eighth day yimol b’sar arlaso – the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised” (Vayikra, 12:3). Rather than directly command circumcision, the Torah here employs the future passive tense – “it shall...

Shemini – Feel the Burn

Fire descending from heaven was something our ancestors in the desert experienced nightly for decades, as the daytime pillar of cloud was replaced by one of flame. It had surely become an expected, regular...

Tzav — Finding Fervor

“And for generations,” the Midrash, quoted by Rashi, adds to its assertion: “The word tzav [‘command’] implies ziruz [‘fervor’ or ‘zeal’] immediately…” The context of the Midrash’s statement are the laws of terumas hadeshen...

If You Want to Help Ukrainian Jews

If you want to help Jews in Ukraine but are (rightfully) wary of some of the “opportunities” to do so, please know that a trustworthy campaign taking no administrative costs has been set up...

Vayikra – Love and Coercion

The Rambam famously explains how, in a case where a Jewish court has determined that a couple must divorce, the court can force the husband to hand the get, or divorce document, to his...

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Putin, Explained

It couldn’t be simpler. Putin is a despotic tyrant without conscience, who seized upon perceived Western weakness to enlarge his empire. All true – but there is much more than that. As the saying...

Parshad Pekudei – Disoriented

The pair of verbs describing Moshe’s placing of the luchos, the second set of tablets he received at Sinai, in the aron, or ark, to be placed in the Mishkan, is unusual: Vayikach. Vayiten,...

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