Noach - Rosh Chodesh Heshvan
By Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald, provided by the Orthodox Union, the central coordinating agency for North American Orthodox Congregations for MyJewishLearning.com
Lessons Of The Flood
The story of the Flood provides us with numerous insights into human nature and human relationships.
Secular scholars speak of the story of the flood as if it were a myth, or a fairy tale. Not surprisingly, several ancient documents report striking parallels to the story of the flood.
Perhaps, the most famous document is the Babylonian "Epic of Gilgamish," which tells the story of a man by the name of Utnapishtim. The gods decide to destroy the earth, there is a great flood, and because Utnapishtim is the favorite of one of the gods, Eau, he is saved.
Gilgamesh and Noah
Despite the parallels between the "Epic of Gilgamish" and the Torah's story of Noah, they are strikingly different. In the Babylonian story, the gods arbitrarily decide to destroy the earth as if it were a plaything. Furthermore, the gods choose to save Utnapishtim only because he is a "favorite" of theirs, not because he is worthy of being saved.
Dr. Rabbi Zev Farber for thetorah.com
If the Sun Is Created on Day 4,What Is the Light on Day 1?
Commentators have struggled with this question for centuries, but ancient cosmology offers a compelling solution.
The Double Creation of Light
The first act of creation, on the very first day, is God’s creation of light:
א:ג וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי אוֹר וַיְהִי אוֹר. א:ד וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת הָאוֹר כִּי טוֹב וַיַּבְדֵּל אֱלֹהִים בֵּין הָאוֹר וּבֵין הַחֹשֶׁךְ. א:ה וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לָאוֹר יוֹם וְלַחֹשֶׁךְ קָרָא לָיְלָה…
1:3 God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 1:4 God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. 1:5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night…
The light that God creates at the very beginning divides the time in the world between day and night; this is used to define each of the following days of creation.
However, on day four, God seems to do the same thing again.
Shabbat Chol Hamo'ed Sukkot
Exodus 33:12–34:26;Maftir: Numbers 29:17-22
The morning Torah reading of Shabbat Chol Ha-moed consists of selected portions from Parshat Ki Tisa. The conclusion of the reading summarily addresses the Shalosh Regalim, and this would seem to be the relevance of the reading to the day. However, the first six aliyot have nothing to do with Yom Tov; rather, they deal with Moshe’s supplication to Hashem to forgive the Jews for the Chet Ha-egel and the grand rapprochement between God and His people. Is there thus any other connection between the Torah reading and the Moed?
Shabbat Chol Ha-moed (as well as Shabbat which coincides with Yom Tov) is unique, for the character of the day is not just that of Shabbat as its own day alongside that of Moed, in which the two days and their respective themes exist on their own. On the contrary, when Shabbat and Moed are joined, they fuse to create a new, unparalleled kedusha and status. Please allow me to explain.
Torah Readings on Yom Kippur
Leviticus 16:1-34; 18:1-30
The Torah reading for Yom Kippur morning describes the service performed on this day by the Kohen Gadol (high priest) in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
A special feature of the Yom Kippur service was the casting of lots over two he-goats -- equal in age, size and appearance -- to determine which shall be offered to G‑d in the Holy Temple, and which shall be dispatched to carry off the sins of Israel to the wilderness.
The climax of the service was when the Kohen Gadol entered the innermost chamber in the Temple, the "Holy of Holies." Wearing special garments of pure white linen, the Kohen Gadol would enter the sacred place with a pan of burning coals in his right hand, and a ladle containing an exact handful of ketoret in his left. Inside the Holy of Holies, he would place the ketoret over the coals, wait for the room to fill with its aromatic smoke, and hastily retreat from the holy place.
Shabbat Shuva - Ha’azinu
Avraham Fischer is a rabbi at Darche Noam Institutions.
Remember Your Rock, Your Creator
Moshe poetically reminds the Children of Israel of the importance of remembering God who created them.
The panoramic poetry of Ha’azinu embraces all of the Jewish past, present and future. Israel is warned that sin will be punished through the scourge of the other nations, but that Hashem will never completely abandon His Chosen People. Rather than referring to specific incidents, the poem’s use of the imperfect tense alludes to repeated events, thus making it supra-historic–beyond the limits of history.
The multiple layers of meaning in Ha’azinu invite a variety of interpretations. The following is one such example (Deuteronomy 32:18):
tzur y’lad’cha teshi, vatishkach e-l m’chol’lecha
Although the second part of the verse is the subject of some discussion by the commentaries, a straightforward translation is possible:
. . . and you forgot G-d Who produced you.