It has been one year and one month since the exodus from Egypt. The Jewish people, divided by tribe into clusters around a central point, have just completed erecting the Tabernacle as the nucleus of the encampment. Each tribe is now assigned a flag that highlights that tribe’s unique abilities and strengths.
The timing of the designation of the flags begs a question. Why did God wait until now to instruct the various tribes to carry flags? The Jews had been separated and organized by tribe as soon as they left Egypt, over a year ago. It would seem fitting for them to display their tribal flags from the very start! Continue reading Parshat Bamidbar | Shavuot – Unity Despite Individuality→
Only five days after the Jewish people were dramatically emancipated from the cruel Egyptian slavery, Pharaoh had a sudden change of heart and regretted sending the Jews away. Intending to force them to return and to subjugate them to slavery once more, he gathered his men and chased after the nascent nation. Having tasted a mere five days of freedom, the Jewish people found an Egyptian army bearing down upon them and almost overtaking them.
The Torah, in describing how the unified, single-minded, and focused army was bearing down upon and overtaking the Jews, seems to use erroneous grammar. It states that “Egypt nasayah (journeyed, singular form) after them,” as opposed to, “the Egyptians nasa’u (journeyed, plural form) after them.” Why this apparently mistaken verbiage? Continue reading Parshat Beshalach – Unity Regardless of Commonality→
Shabbos is a time of achdus, unity, in a number of different relationships. The first and foremost of these is our relationship with Hashem. Halachah dictates that on Shabbos one is not supposed to pray for personal requests. Rabbi Shimshon Pincus (1944 – 2001, Ofakim, Israel) explains this law with an analogy to a fundraiser. At times, the fundraiser will ask a potential donor for money, but on other occasions, he will simply spend time building his relationship with the potential donor. This relationship building will ensure that the next time the fundraiser will ask for a donation, the check will be much larger. Any good fundraiser will readily admit that the key to successful fundraising really lies in this relationship building. On Shabbos, Rabbi Pincus explains, our goal is simply to build our Continue reading The Communal Phoenix Siyum on Meseches Shabbos: A Celebration of Unity→
As I am writing this, I am on a red-eye flight on my way to Baltimore. The reason for this trip is to visit my dear grandfather or rather Zaidy, as we call him, Rabbi Hirsch Diskind. He lives in Israel, but has not been well recently. He has terrible pains regularly throughout most of his body. The doctors in Israel discovered what appeared to be a broken vertebrae but weren’t sure. His children for a number of reasons decided to bring him to The United States for medical treatment. The doctors here took some more tests that were also inconclusive. They have been hoping, however, that it may simply be an infection in the spine. Regardless of what it is, it seems that this is the source of the pain. This past Monday they took a biopsy and we should hopefully have a diagnosis soon.
I enjoy taking red-eye flights when traveling alone since I generally have no problem sleeping on the plane. By taking the red-eye I waste no time during the day flying. This time, however, I have been finding it difficult to fall asleep. Thoughts of my grandfather and Continue reading G-d, Zaidy, and Sentimentality→
There are many laws detailing what is kosher and what is not. In general, Jews are barred from eating non-kosher items, but benefitting from them in any other way is totally permissible. For example, there’s no problem with buying bacon bits and serving them to one’s pet. The main exception to this is mixing meat and dairy. Not only does Jewish law forbid the consumption of a meat and dairy mixture, but it is forbidden to receive benefit in any way from such a mixture. As a matter of fact, even the mixing of the two is forbidden. Why is this so? What is so problematic with this mixture that we are forbidden to even join the two together?
Before we attempt to find an answer, we must understand that the sole reason we keep kosher and all the laws of the Torah is because G-d commanded us to do so. This is the only binding factor. Whether or not we understand the reason is irrelevant. To put it in the terms of the well-known adage, if G-d says “Jump,” our response must be “How high?” Not why, or for what purpose. Even if it seems totally ludicrous to us, we must follow the Continue reading Milk and Meat: A lesson in using our ability to reason appropriately→