Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Divrei Torah

The Observant Jew: The Driving Test

Do you remember when you got your driver’s license? Maybe you knew all the road signs, you’d taken practice written tests, and you were pretty sure you would do well on the written part. What was nerve-wracking was the actual driving part. You’d be driving with someone you probably never met before, had no idea what temperament he might have, or what he would ask


Torah and Derech Eretz: The Frankfort Approach

(This article is reproduced with permission from the author and Tradition…footnotes have been removed and the article has been edited for brevity. We found the translation of Rabbi Shimon Schwab’s letter interesting in light of recent attacks by supposedly centrist rabbis that referred to the teachings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch as heresy.)



Reaching the Summit

The beginning of chapter 24 of the book of Shemot describes Moshe’s ascent up Mount Sinai. “To Moshe, He said, ‘Go up to Hashem, you, Aharon, Nadav, and Avihu, and seventy elders of Israel, and you shall prostrate yourselves from a distance.’” (Exodus 24:1).

They all ascended Mount Sinai, but only Moshe reached the dense layer of fog


Shoveling and Shabbat

“He Who gives snow like fleece, He scatters frost like ashes. He hurls His ice like crumbs. Before his cold who can stand? He issues His command and it melts them...

—Psalm 147: 16 - 18

As reflected in this quotation—recited each morning in the Shacharit service—handling a snowstorm and its icy aftermath is far


Mishpatim: Stopping with Dry Goods on a Snowy Eve

It wasn’t exactly the Storm of the Century, but as snowstorms go, this wasn’t much fun. There was no “easy wind or downy flake” (with apologies to Robert Frost), just nasty precipitation. The weatherperson rarely forecasts a storm like this one correctly, but in this case, he was right on the money: snow, mixing with sleet and freezing rain, with accumulations


Parshas Beshalach: The Journey from Faith to Trust?

It is difficult to believe that if we only follow Hashem’s rules then Hashem will take care of our needs—that we can place our entire survival in Hashem’s hands. Our instinct to survive is so great, the drive to protect our children is so powerful, and the notion that Hashem will focus on such an infinitesimal creature like a


Beshalach: Split the Sea, Win a Prize

Anyone can tell the story of the splitting of the Red Sea. The Israelites were up against the shoreline. The Egyptians were bearing down on them with chariots and spears. It didn’t look good. Suddenly, God intervenes, the waters part, the nation flees to safety, and the pursuing Egyptians wind up in the drink in a big way. It was definitely a huge miracle, one that


Where Were the G’dolim on Da’as Torah?

(This is the second part of a two-part article. Part One appeared in the 711/13 issue of JLBC.)

Da’as Torah! The very words themselves are enough to inflame passions within the Orthodox world, and far beyond.

But what is “Daas Torah?”

Da’as Torah is, at bottom, a modern concept of


Dwarfs on the Shoulders of Giants

Is the study of Torah progressing or regressing? Whatever one’s intuitive response may be to such a question, a definitive answer is surely elusive.  Methodologically, at least it would first be necessary to define what we mean by “study of Torah,” “progression,” and “regression.” It would therefore be necessary to settle on an appropriate


Parshat Va’eyra - The Challenge of Knowledge

When we study a passage in the Bible, it is helpful to identify key words that are repeated throughout that passage—this helps us understand the underlying message of a Torah section. The root “yadoa” (yod/daleth/ayin) or “to know” appears about 20 times in the story of the exodus from Egypt and in each case it is a keyword at a crucial juncture in the


Vayechi: Brevity (Bereishit: 49: 19-21)

They had been waiting outside the classroom for over 20 minutes. They could see the parents that were huddled with Rabbi Jacobs by his desk, deep in conversation. But each parent-teacher conference was only allotted 10 minutes on the clock, and these people—who were they, the Reinholds?—had gone well over their time slot.

“Should I say something?”


The Hebrew Humanitarians

There is no denying the fact that press coverage of Israel by media outlets around the world is often less than flattering. Indeed, Israel is routinely maligned in the media and vilified by those who are theoretically tasked with providing the public with impartial reporting of the news.

As a result of this adverse exposure in the press, Israel’s reputation