Friday, February 16, 2018

No New Dvar Torah this Week

Due to circumstances beyond our control, there is no new Dvar Torah this week for Parshas Terumah. Please click here for last year's Dvar Torah. We will return, b'ezrat Hashem, next week with a brand new Dvar Torah.

Shabbat Shalom!

There is no Podcast this week. Please click here to visit our full library of podcasts and find us on iTunes as well.



For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email us at AIMeMTorah@gmail.com.

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Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

Don't forget to check out the Dvar Torah on parshasheets.com!

Check out our other AIMeMTorah project, Nation's Wisdom!



AIMeM

Friday, February 9, 2018

Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Mishpatim

       Parshas Mishpatim is known for its discussion of some of the most technical, albeit vital, aspects of Jewish law. However, as we approach the end of the parsha, some different themes emerge, particularly in the relationship between Hashem and the Bnei Yisrael. In the sixth Aliya, Hashem tells the nation how He will be leading them through the desert to Eretz Yisrael. Any barrier or threat that comes upon them will be immediately and completely destroyed. The Aliya ends with an uplifting pasuk, but which contains some confusing language as well.
       “וַֽעֲבַדְתֶּ֗ם אֵ֚ת יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֔ם וּבֵרַ֥ךְ אֶת־לַחְמְךָ֖ וְאֶת־מֵימֶ֑יךָ וַֽהֲסִֽרֹתִ֥י מַֽחֲלָ֖ה מִקִּרְבֶּֽךָ“You shall worship Hashem, your God, and He shall bless your bread and your water, and I will remove illness from your midst” (Shemos 23:25). Though it can’t be seen in the translation, in the original Hebrew, the pasuk begins by addressing a group of people, “וַֽעֲבַדְתֶּ֗ם”, and ends by addressing individuals. Why is this? The blessings mentioned in the pasuk seem to be applicable to everyone; why would the Torah switch from speaking to the public to individuals?
       The Kli Yakar explains that each half of the pasuk differs in its direct effect on the People. All Jews are responsible for the spiritual (and physical) welfare of each other. Therefore, when discussing the service of Hashem, the pasuk speaks to the general populace. However, not everyone ate together, so their bread would be blessed on an individual level, leading the Torah to give that bracha to the individual. However, that bracha would not be given until the overall avodas Hashem of the nation was on the proper level.
       While it may be difficult for us to understand the brilliance of the language found in the various laws in this week’s parsha, this is simple enough for us to understand. And how great is it that even in the midst of the technicalities of law that are found in Mishpatim, we still find this nugget which shows us the careful care of Hashem in dealing with every single individual according to what makes sense.


Shabbat Shalom! 





Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts) 

For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email us at AIMeMTorah@gmail.com.

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Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

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AIMeM

Friday, February 2, 2018

Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Yisro

       While the most significant event in Parshas Yisro is the giving of the Torah, the parsha begins with a less dramatic, but also significant story. Yisro, Moshe’s father-in-law, joins the Bnei Yisrael in the desert and notices his son-in-law as the lone judge for the Nation judging their disputes. The commentaries differ as to whether Yisro felt it wasn’t respectful to the Bnei Yisrael to have them wait all day to speak to Moshe, or that he felt Moshe was putting an unhealthy burden on himself by having to judge every single case brought before him alone; but either way, Yisro proceeded to develop the first court system in Jewish history.
       Yisro began to advise Moshe on the need for additional judges and designed a new chain of command with Moshe at the top. Additionally, he instructed Moshe on the proper way to pick new judges. “אַתָּ֣ה תֶֽחֱזֶ֣ה מִכָּל־הָ֠עָ֠ם אַנְשֵׁי־חַ֜יִל יִרְאֵ֧י אֱלֹהִ֛ים אַנְשֵׁ֥י אֱמֶ֖ת שׂ֣נְאֵי בָ֑צַע“And you shall see from among the entire people, men of means, God-fearing people, men of truth, people who despise money…” (Shemos 18:21). Yisro felt four qualities were important in judges, Chazal in Nedarim (38a) agree, and explain these four middos as: strong, wise, wealthy, and humble. In fact, all four of these attributes were present in Moshe, making him the best example of a judge in the entire nation. Throughout the Torah, we see many examples that demonstrate the greatness of Moshe Rabbeinu, and this is just another opportunity to explore his greatness.
       The Kli Yakar explains why these four attributes were the most important in picking judges. Physical strength is important as they must not be able to be easily intimidated by unruly litigants or defendants. Humility is important as well. This middah is referred to as “God-fearing” in the pasuk since humility leads to true fear of Hashem. Someone who is not properly humble, who does not recognize the great responsibility placed upon him as a judge, is not fit to do so. After all, we believe the only true judge in this world is Hashem, for someone to step into that space and not be in awe of his power is someone who does not fear Hashem!
       “Men of truth” is how the pasuk refers to men of wisdom. As a judge, you must be able to discern truth from lies in order to properly decide judgement. Not only must you be wise in order to properly see the truth, you must be able to maintain the truth regardless of the situation placed before you. Finally, it is important for a judge to be wealthy. Whether this refers to someone with actual wealth or to someone who is completely satisfied with what they have (Avos 4:1), the explanation is the same. They must “despise money”; someone who has everything he needs, and understands he has everything he needs, will not be tempted by a bribe. Since he has all that he needs, there is no temptation to take anything extra.
       These were the men that needed to be selected as judges for the Jewish people. Nothing less than these four attributes would do. How great was this nation to have such great people among them, and how fortunate they were to be led by such a man.

Shabbat Shalom!




Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts) 

For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email us at AIMeMTorah@gmail.com.

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Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

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AIMeM

Thursday, January 25, 2018

No New Dvar Torah This Week

Due to unforeseen circumstances, there is no new Dvar Torah or Podcast this week. Please click here for last year's Dvar Torah for Parshas Beshalach. We will return, b'ezrat Hashem, next week with a brand new Dvar Torah.

There is no Podcast this week. Please click here to visit our full library of podcasts and find us on iTunes as well.

For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email us at AIMeMTorah@gmail.com.

Please Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: @aimemtorah

Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

Don't forget to check out the Dvar Torah on parshasheets.com!

Check out our other AIMeMTorah project, Nation's Wisdom!



AIMeM

Friday, January 19, 2018

Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Bo

       In this week’s parsha, Parshas Bo, we see the first great moment in the history of the Jewish nation as the Bnei Yisrael finally leave Mitzrayim. A phrasing appears in the pesukim that is found rarely throughout the Torah to describe how the Nation left exactly. The pasuk says, “וַיְהִ֕י בְּעֶ֖צֶם הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה הוֹצִ֨יא יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶת־בְּנֵ֧י יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרַ֖יִם עַל־צִבְאֹתָֽםIt happened on that very day: Hashem took the Children of Yisrael out of the land of Egypt, in their legions.” (Shemos 12:51). Interestingly, this same exact phrasing appears only ten pesukim earlier! “…וַיְהִ֗י בְּעֶ֨צֶם֙ הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה יָֽצְא֛וּ כָּל־צִבְא֥וֹת יְהֹוָ֖ה מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם“…and it was on this very day that all the legions of Hashem left the land of Egypt.” (ibid: 41). Pasuk 41 is clearly referring to the actual exit from Egypt; in that case, what is Pasuk 51 referring to?
       The Ramban gives an explanation which I believe is based on the larger meaning of the phrase, “בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה”. Rashi on Devarim 32:48 explains that the Torah uses the phrase “בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה” in situations where a group of people were attempting to resist the will of Hashem. The three examples he brings are: when the people said they would stop Noach from entering the Ark by the Flood, by the death of Moshe, and by Yetzias Mitzrayim. The Egyptians said they would do everything in their power to prevent the Bnei Yisrael from leaving, so Hashem said not only would the Bnei Yisrael leave, but they would leave right in the middle of the day with everyone watching, and remain powerless to stop them.
       Returning to the explanation of the Ramban; immediately following the Bnei Yisrael’s exodus in Pasuk 41, Pasuk 42 says, “לֵ֣יל שִׁמֻּרִ֥ים הוּא֙ לַֽיהֹוָ֔ה לְהֽוֹצִיאָ֖ם מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם“It is a night of keepings for Hashem to take them out of the land of Egypt.” Based on this pasuk, we might assume that the previous pasuk’s description of the Nation having left in the middle of the day means something different than the simple translation. The proper explanation is while Pasuk 41 teaches us Rashi’s explanation, Pasuk 51 teaches us they didn’t slink out of Mitzrayim while their Egyptian masters were sleeping. Rather, while they received permission to leave already the night before, they waited until the morning so the full affect of the entire nation leaving would be felt.


Shabbat Shalom!


Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts) 

For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email us at AIMeMTorah@gmail.com.

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AIMeM

Friday, January 12, 2018

Dvar Torah for Parshas Vaeira & Podcast

       Parshas Vaeira begins with the Bnei Yisrael at their lowest point. They’ve been enslaved by Egypt for generations, and just when Moshe comes to ‘rescue’ them, all that changes is Paroh makes their burden even harsher. Last week’s parsha ended with Moshe asking Hashem what will happen next; what is he supposed to do at this point! All seems lost.
       The parsha begins with Hashem’s response to Moshe. “וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶל־משֶׁ֑ה וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֵלָ֖יו אֲנִ֥י יְהֹוָֽה“And Elokim spoke to Moshe, and He said to him, ‘I am Hashem” (Shemos 6:2). Rav Hirsch explains that through the mention of His name, Hashem is signifying to Moshe a fundamental change in how He will act towards the Bnei Yisrael. The name ‘Elokim’ is used when Hashem allows Nature to operate on its own. Until now, Hashem has allowed the Bnei Yisrael to be enslaved, abused, and tormented by the Egyptians. But from now on, He will be operating under the name of ‘Hashem’, indicating that the World will be proceeding directly according to what Hashem desires, regardless of any previous actions or conditions. With this decree, explains Rav Hirsch, a new world order emerged, one not dependent on any of the previous events going back to the time of Creation.
       In order to better understand this concept, we must first ask a couple of questions. First, we see in Pasuk 3, “וָֽאֵרָ֗א אֶל־אַבְרָהָ֛ם אֶל־יִצְחָ֥ק וְאֶל־יַֽעֲקֹ֖ב בְּאֵ֣ל שַׁדָּ֑י וּשְׁמִ֣י יְהֹוָ֔ה לֹ֥א נוֹדַ֖עְתִּי לָהֶֽם“And I (God) appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchak and to Yaakov with Almighty God, but with My name Hashem, I did not become known to them.” What exactly is meant by this statement, the name ‘Hashem’ is written many times throughout Sefer Bereishis? Secondly, why was it necessary for Hashem to wait until the Bnei Yisrael were thoroughly demeaned before taking over like this? There must be more to this than what the pesukim are telling us.
       If you look at the lives of the Avos, they were not at all easy. Avraham waited until 100 years old to have Yitzchak, Yitzchak had to choose between Yaakov and Esav, Yaakov had to work for Lavan for both of his wives; these are just a few examples of the hardships our forefathers faced. Why is it that specifically the men who were most representing Hashem in this world were faced with such hardships? Hashem could have just as easily let Avraham have a full and happy family by the time he was 70, have him be successful and never have to leave Eretz Yisrael, and let his descendants expand and fill the land, all while continuing to serve Hashem at the highest level! But then, he would have been just like everyone else.
       The purpose of Hashem establishing a nation to represent Him in this world was not just about them learning Torah and performing mitzvos, it’s also about us allowing Hashem to represent Himself in this world. We had to show the world the power of ‘Hashem’; we were the example to the rest of the world that all power in the world ultimately rests with Hashem. A 100 year old man shouldn’t have children, and a nation that has been enslaved for 210 years shouldn’t be able to develop into a functioning nation and just walk out of the most powerful country in the world. According to nature, the Bnei Yisrael should have at the very least assimilated into Egyptian culture, if not be totally eradicated under the harsh pressure of slavery. Any normal person observing this and other nation in this same situation would have long given up hope by this point. And that’s when Hashem steps in with the Name ‘Hashem’ and shows the rest of the world what He and his nation are all about.  
       The truth is, the Name ‘Hashem’ was always used by Hashem, it’s written any times in the Torah before this point, but He never showed its’ meaning to the Avos or anyone else. When the name ‘Hashem’ is used by the Avos, while they might have spoken to Hashem with that name, they didn’t understand the full impact of that Name, that every event throughout history and the future will be through His will and by His plan. How could they! Its full impact won’t be understood until the end of time and all of history is complete. But the first understanding of Hashem’s ultimate plan, of the plan for His nation that would accept the Torah, happened here in Parshas Vaeira.


Shabbat Shalom!


Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts) 

For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email us at AIMeMTorah@gmail.com.

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Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

Don't forget to check out the Dvar Torah, available on parshasheets.com!

Check out our other AIMeMTorah project, Nation's Wisdom!



AIMeM

Friday, January 5, 2018

Dvar Torah for Parshas Shemos & Podcast

       Sefer Shemos begins with the Bnei Yisrael transitioning from an extended family of 70 people into a great and mighty nation, almost taking over Mitzrayim. Fearing this great nation, Paroh tricked the Bnei Yisrael and they became his slaves. The slavery lasted 210 years until they were redeemed.
       It is strange why Paroh enslaved the Bnei Yisrael at all as they had shown no ill will towards the Egyptians. More importantly, the Egyptians had benefited greatly from the Jews being there. Yaakov’s arrival ended the deadly famine, and Yosef in his role as viceroy turned Egypt into the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world! Why would Paroh deceive their descendants in this way?
       The answer is written clearly in the pasuk. “וַיָּ֥קָם מֶֽלֶךְ־חָדָ֖שׁ עַל־מִצְרָ֑יִם אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹֽא־יָדַ֖ע אֶת־יוֹסֵֽף“And a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know about Yosef”. (Shemos 1:8). Since he had no knowledge of all the good Yosef had done for his country, Paroh had no issue seeing the Bnei Yisrael as a threat and acting accordingly. But this doesn’t make sense either; it was only a few years since the last of the Shevatim had died, how could the entire country, new king or not, not have any recollection of the man who had turned them into a world power?
       Rashi explains very simply, Paroh pretended as if he didn’t remember Yosef so he could enslave the Jews. Rav Hirsch builds on this point and explains that whenever the pasuk uses the phrase “קום על”, it refers to a hostile takeover. Sometime after the Shevatim died, Mitzrayim was taken over by a foreign power who, in order to insure his rule was secure, wanted to eradicate all memory of the good Yosef had done for the Egyptian people, further solidifying his position of power. That’s why the pasuk says specifically that the King didn’t know who Yosef was, because the nation certainly did.
       The final explanation is from the Kli Yakar. He explains that this pasuk doesn’t explain how Paroh was able to enslave the Jews, but was instead a warning to him. The Shevatim did all they could to stop Yosef’s dreams of being a ruler from coming true. They threw him in a pit full of dangerous animals. They sold him into slavery in Mitzrayim, where no one had ever been heard from again. And yet, he eventually rose to second in command of the country, and turned it into a world power. No matter what they tried, it was Hashem’s desire that Yosef reach that position and no power anywhere could stop him from getting there.

       Paroh was attempting the same thing. He wanted to push down the Bnei Yisrael, he tried to stop them from having children, he tried to kill their sons, he tried to place them in a servitude from which they would never recover. However, it was the will of Hashem that Bnei Yisrael survive and thrive and become a great nation, one that would eventually receive the Torah and become His nation. There was nothing Paroh could do to stop that, regardless of his will and schemes. The pasuk informs us that Paroh had not learned the lesson of Yosef; he didn’t realize that he couldn’t stop what was meant to be. And he eventually learned this the hard way, as we see in the continuation of the Sefer.
Shabbat Shalom!


Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts) 

For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email us at AIMeMTorah@gmail.com.

Please Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: @aimemtorah

Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

The Dvar Torah is now available on parshasheets.com! Check out the site for links to Divrei Torah in both Hebrew and English, written by people around the world

Check out our other AIMeMTorah project, Nation's Wisdom!



AIMeM