salixj said: I agree. I called someone out on their comparing Lapid to a Nazi. I was very upset by the whole discussion. The person also compared me to a Nazi, but later claimed s/he didn’t.
It’s horrible and people still keep doing it! Do I have to spell out word for word why it’s wrong for people to call other people Nazis? And Kal Vachomer why it’s wrong for Jews to call other Jews Nazis?
sarah-bracha said: I’m sorry about your previous experience but if you had been there yesterday you would know it was not a demonstration. It was literally davening and saying tehillim. There were no speeches or yelling or rioting, just Jews praying.
That’s really positive that yesterdays demonstration didn’t sink to what I saw. I have friends who went and they told me all about it. They told me it was hectic, they got trampled and probably stepped on a bunch of a children accidentally.
jewishatheist said: nice piece. and awesome that you got it published! (do you normally write for them?) cheers
Thank you so much! I write for them as a blogger occasionally. I try not to make it like a job where I feel like I have to churn out pieces. I write when I feel passionate about something.
The major Haredi demonstration yesterday, protesting the end to draft exemptions reminded me of what scares me most about……
Something small I’ve written about what scares me most about Jewish debate. Looks like we haven’t learnt our lesson after 2000 years of Galut.
Start off by learning parshat hashavua. Usually, one thing will really stand out to me and I’ll research that as much as I can. I skim all the mefarshim in the mikraot hagdolot on that particular phrase and see if anything connects to me.
Once you find out what you want to write about, try and find references to that topic in other places. Look at all the sources the mefarshim mention and go back to the original source: Gemara, Midrash etc.
Once you’ve written out your Dvar Torah have a friend read it. I know when my chavruta reads my DT she often pushes me to research further and make more connections between ideas. This always results in a more nuanced and layered DT which is awesome :)
Final step - publish it and know that you’ve done your job in making Torah more accessible to people in the word.
Of course it’s nerve wracking to publish your work in an environment where the whole world can see it but what have you got to lose? In my experience everyone’s been really supportive :)
I don’t know if you’ve been able to tell but I’ve been doing a lot less reblogging lately. I’ve decided I want my blog to become a record of my own writings and essays, rather than unoriginal content.
I have no interest in getting involved in Jumblr’s messy politics and opinions, so I won’t be getting involved in reblog wars. Rather, when someone posts something that I disagree with, I’ll write an essay about it. I think it will make my blog look neater and easier to read.
The only problem with this approach is that it may limit my interactions with the Jewish and Zionist communities on Tumblr. To combat this I invite you all to my ask box where you can ask about my opinion on any topic under the sun.
Blessing you all with a pleasant and prosperous 2014.
Sorry this is last week’s Dvar Torah. My internet wasn’t working last week so I couldn’t put it up then and I didn’t have the time to work on one this week. I’m sorry.
After years of hiding from the wrath of his twin brother, Jacob finally feels safe to begin his journey home. Interestingly enough, this idea is juxtaposed with the birth of his first son from his favourite wife Rachel, Joseph.
ויהי כאשר ילדה רחל את יוסף ויאמר יעקב אל לבן שלחני ואלכה אל מקומי ולארצי
After Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Give me leave to go back to my own homeland”
Rashi comments on this verse and explains
משנולד שטנו של עשו שנאמר והיה בית יעקב אש ובית יוסף להבה ובית עשו לקש אש בלא להבה אינו שולט למרחוק משנולד יוסף בטח יעקב בהקב’ה ורצה לשוב
Quoting the Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah 73:7) Rashi explains that Joseph is the inherent rival of Esau and it was only after his birth, that Jacob felt secure enough to return to his homeland. Furthermore, the House of Jacob is compared to a fire, the House of Joseph to a flame and the House of Esau to straw.
והיה בית יעקב אש ובית יוסף להבה ובית עשו לקש ודלקו בהם ואכלום ולא יהיה שריד לבית עשו כי ה’ דבר
The House of Jacob shall be fire, and the House of Joseph flame, and the House of Esau shall be straw; they shall burn it and devour it and so survivor shall be left of the House of Esau – for the Lord has spoken
Malbim discusses the difference between a flame and a fire.
ואז יהיה בית יעקב לאש הבוער מקרוב ובית יוסף יהיה כלהבה הבוער מרחוק יותר מן האש
The House of Jacob will be like a fire that burns close and the House of Joseph will be like a flame that burns from afar even more than fire
(Malbim on Obadiah 1:18)
Fire without a flame has no effect when it’s far away; implying fire needs a flame in order to destroy. The flame is the concentrated essence of the fire. The flame can focus on specific targets while the fire cannot. Radak expands on this idea and contends the House of Jacob is dependent on the House of Joseph to destroy the House of Esau.
ורז’ל דרשו כל זכר יוסף לפי שאין זרעו של עשו נופל אלא ביד יוסף או ביד זרעו של יוסף
The Rabbis (OB’M) teach that Joseph is mentioned because Esau will only fall through Joseph or through Joseph’s descendants
(Radak on Obadiah 1:18)
The Da’at Mikra on Obadiah defines the House of Jacob as Judah and the House of Joseph as Joseph. Judah and Joseph are emblematic of two opposing worldviews; Judah represents a path of insulation and isolation in order to protect his own way of life, while Joseph symbolizes integration into surrounding society in order to influence society for the better.
Judah’s isolation is illustrated in the aftermath of Joseph’s Sale, when he removes himself from his brothers’ community and decides to live by himself.
ויהי בעת ההיא וירד יהודה מאת אחיו ויט עד איש עדלמי ושמו חירה
About that time Judah left his brothers and camped near a certain Adullamite whose name was Hirah
This is also seen when Judah breaks his promise and refuses to give his youngest son to Tamar as a husband. He follows his worldview of isolation, rather than keeping his word.
ותסר בגדי אלמנותה מעליה ותכס בצעיף ותתעלף ותשב פתח עינים אשר על דרך תמנתה כי ראתה כי גדל שלה והוא לו נתנה לו לאשה
So she took off her widow’s garb, covered her face with a veil, and, wrapping herself up, sat down at the entrance to Einaim which on the road to Timnah for she saw that Shelah was grown up, yet she had not been given to him as wife
In contrast to this Joseph integrates into Egyptian society and even becomes the ruler of the entire country under Pharaoh’s supervision. Despite his success in a foreign society amongst pagan ideals completely opposed to Judaism, Joseph maintains his relationship with God. Joseph’s worldview is demonstrated in a number of sources in Genesis.
ויהי ה’ את יוסף ויהי איש מצליח ויהי בבית אדוניו המצרי
The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he stayed in the house of his Egyptian master
ויאמר פרעה אל יוסף ראה נתתי אתך על כל ארץ מצרים
Pharaoh further said to Joseph, “See, I put you in charge of all the land of Egypt”
It is this difference between Judah and Joseph that explains why only a descendant of Joseph could destroy the House of Esau. In my opinion, when Obadiah refers to completely obliterating the House of Esau it can be understood metaphorically; destroying all ideologies and beliefs that contradict God and His Torah. Judah cannot destroy Esau alone as he does not interact with him at all, he lives in his own isolated Torah bubble. However, Joseph who does not cut himself off completely from Esau’s society can be a ‘light unto the nations’ and destroy Esau’s heretical beliefs by being a positive influence.
The contrast between fire and a flame is also seen in the Book of Isaiah.
והיה אור ישראל לאש וקדושו ללהבה
The Light of Israel will be a fire and its Holy One a flame
Midrashei Chazal explain
דבר אחר והיה אור ישראל לאש זה מרדכי וקדושו ללהבה זו אסתר
Alternatively, the Light of Israel will be a fire refers to Mordechai and its Holy One a flame refers to Esther
(Midrashei Chazal on Isaiah 10:17)
Mordechai and Esther follow the same pattern in the comparison between fire and flame. Morderchai , like the fire and Judah, remained outside the palace for the most of Purim narrative, fasting and focusing on the Jewish community. In contrast to this, Esther was married to Ahasuereus and tried to change the decree against the Jews from the inside. She was part of the upper echelons of Persian society, Morderchai was outside of it.
These sources demonstrate the need for the flame to exist. Without the flame, the fire is useless. Esau will not be defeated by fire alone. Ahasuereus’ and Haman’s decree weren’t nullified by Mordechai, Esther is the heroine of the Purim story. Joseph’s weapon, the flame – God and His Torah will eradicate all theological falsehoods in this world. Joseph, unlike Judah has the ability to spread the word of God, the flame of Torah throughout the world. Joseph will be a light unto the nations and destroy the House of Esau.
We like Joseph and Esther should have the strength to withstand the values that our superficial society bombards us with on a daily basis. We should strive to emulate Joseph and be a light unto the nations, a positive influence, and through the flame of Torah influence society for the better. We should reveal more Godliness into the world, help people discover the Ultimate Truth and hasten the arrival of Mashiach.
Succah seen at the light rail station across the street from the tachana merkazit.
A rough interpretation (ie not exact translation) would be “to passengers on the light rail: Happy holiday and have a safe journey”
Had the honor of eating lunch at the tayelet today in talpiot. From the lookout you can see the old city and most if Jerusalem. Apparently, at this spot, Gd showed Avraham where his descendants would build their holy city.
Seen on a bus in Jerusalem
I miss the way I feel like I belong and do no stick out.
I miss the way you make me feel like I’ve come home.
I miss the way I feel like everyone is family.
I miss the way Jews surround me every place I go.
I miss the extra enthusiasm I have for religion.
I miss passing ancient sites every…
Less than 10 days to go!
Well, now that Yom Ha’atzmaut is truly over here, I suppose it’s time to reflect.
Last night I went to a special tefillah at my shule and then to a concert sponsored by the community. The concert was a fun, self deprecating exhibition of Israeli culture. It included quite a few speeches, short comedy performances, a video message from the Shnat kids in Israel and two songs (accompanied by dances) from each decade of Israel’s existence. The song that the concert ended on was מי שמאמין לא מפחד.
To me, this perfectly summarises what I believe Yom Ha’atzmaut is all about. It’s about recognising the miracles of Israel’s existence and giving thanks to God. It’s about realising that Israel’s independence is not just historically or politically important to the Jewish people and the world, but has a great religious significance.
The creation of the Jewish state is the fulfilment of a 2,000 year old dream and even though we have not reached the Geulah Shleimah, Israel is ראשית צמיחת גאולתנו.
That’s why to me, celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut with a special Tefillah and Hallel is so important. Essentially, it’s a Chag and we should treat it with the respect that it deserves, rather than just eating Felafel and wearing blue and white.
When an official body like the local and federal Zionist council (by no means Orthodox organisations) decide to end the evening’s festivities with a song recognising Hashem, it proves to me that we’re really in אתחלתא דגאולה and will merit to see the גאולה שלמה במהרה בימינו אמן.