Tough Staff

Tough Staff

“…And Moshe spoke to the heads of the tribes of Bnei Israel…” – Bamidbar 30:2 וַיְדַבֵּר משֶׁה אֶל רָאשֵׁי הַמַּטּוֹת לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל – במדבר ל, ב The Torah refers to the tribes of Bnei Yisrael here as מטות, matos, each individual tribe called a mateh. Elsewhere, the tribes are called shevatim, each tribe known as a sheivet. Mateh and sheivet are […]

August 4, 2016 at 8:17 AM 0 comments

No Ordinary Matter

No Ordinary Matter

“…If a man makes a vow… he shall not profane his word…” – Bamidbar 30:3 אִישׁ כִּי יִדֹּר נֶדֶר . . לֹא יַחֵל דְּבָרוֹ – במדבר ל, ג The Torah expresses the prohibition of violating your vows with the words, לֹא יַחֵל דְּבָרוֹ. Rashi explains that the Hebrew word יַחֵל is akin to the word יְחַלֵּל, and should be understood […]

August 1, 2016 at 6:38 AM 0 comments

Grassroots Initiative

Grassroots Initiative

 A deathly plague was spreading among Bnei Yisrael, killing thousands of people. Meanwhile, Zimri, the leader of the tribe of Shimon, took a Midianite princess into his tent. Moshe, Elazar and the elders of Bnei Yisrael all witnessed Zimri’s brazen act, but were at a loss of how to respond. Pinchas, who had no previous position of importance, remembered what […]

July 24, 2016 at 2:38 AM 0 comments

Moshiach and You

Moshiach and You

“…I see him but not now, I behold him but not near; a star shoots forth from Yaakov…” – Bamidbar 24:17 אֶרְאֶנּוּ וְלֹא עַתָּה אֲשׁוּרֶנּוּ וְלֹא קָרוֹב דָּרַךְ כּוֹכָב מִיַּעֲקֹב – במדבר כד, יז Many early sources interpret Bilaam’s prophecy, “A star shoots forth from Yaakov,” as a reference to Moshiach, the future redeemer of the Jewish people (see Ramban and others). According […]

July 22, 2016 at 8:01 AM 0 comments

Radical Blessings

Radical Blessings

“…Come, I will advise you… what this people will do to your people at the end of days…” – Bamidbar 24:14 לְכָה אִיעָצְךָ אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה הָעָם הַזֶּה לְעַמְּךָ בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים – במדבר כד, יד Fearing that the Jews would wage war against him and conquer his land, Balak, the king of Moav, summoned the prophet Bilaam and asked him to curse them. […]

July 21, 2016 at 1:15 AM 0 comments

Beauty Lies in the Details

Beauty Lies in the Details

“…How beautiful are your tents, Yaakov!…” – Bamidbar 24:3 מַה טֹּבוּ אֹהָלֶיךָ יַעֲקֹב – במדבר כד, ג What was the beauty that Bilaam saw in Bnei Yisrael’s tents? The Talmud (Bava Basra 60a) explains that Bilaam observed that Bnei Yisrael arranged their tents in such a manner that the tents’ entrances did not exactly face one another. This practice reflected […]

July 20, 2016 at 2:12 AM 0 comments

Live Prey

Live Prey

“…Behold, a people that rises like a lioness, and raises itself like a lion…” – Bamidbar 23:24 הֶן עָם כְּלָבִיא יָקוּם וְכַאֲרִי יִתְנַשָּׂא – במדבר כג, כד Bilaam compared the Jewish people to lions. As interpreted by the Midrash Tanchuma, this comparison hints to the vigor with which the Jewish people recite the Shema, like a lion pouncing on its […]

July 19, 2016 at 8:06 PM 0 comments

Uncountable Mitzvos

Uncountable Mitzvos

“…Who has counted the dust of Yaakov?…” – Bamidbar 23:10 מִי מָנָה עֲפַר יַעֲקֹב – במדבר כג, י Bilaam’s plot to curse the Jewish people was foiled when G-d forced him to bless and praise them instead. Describing the Jewish people’s endearment to G-d, Bilaam said, “Who can count the dust of Yaakov?” According to one interpretation brought by Rashi, […]

July 18, 2016 at 9:30 PM 0 comments

Outnumbering

Outnumbering

“…Who has counted the dust of Yaakov?…” – Bamidbar 23:10 מִי מָנָה עֲפַר יַעֲקֹב – במדבר כג, י Bilaam attempted to curse the Bnei Yisrael, but G-d caused him to bless them and praise them instead. Extolling Bnei Yisrael’s great merits and their endearment to G-d, Bilaam said, “Who has counted the dust of Yaakov?” According to one interpretation brought […]

July 17, 2016 at 2:55 AM 0 comments

How I Really Feel About You

How I Really Feel About You

“…The entire house of Israel wept for Aharon for thirty days…” – Bamidbar 20:29 וַיִּבְכּוּ אֶת אַהֲרֹן שְׁלשִׁים יוֹם כֹּל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל – במדבר כ, כט The Torah emphasizes that Aharon’s passing was mourned by the entire Jewish nation. The Midrash (Avos d’Rabbi Nosson 12:3) explains that Aharon was particularly beloved upon the people because he was active in restoring […]

July 14, 2016 at 1:29 AM 0 comments

Living On Edge

Living On Edge

“…They shall take to you a perfectly red heifer…” – Bamidbar 19:2 וְיִקְחוּ אֵלֶיךָ פָרָה אֲדֻמָּה תְּמִימָה – במדבר יט, ב The Rambam’s compendium of Jewish law, the Mishneh Torah, is famous for its precise wording and organization. It is therefore most unusual that in the midst of a discussion on the laws of the Parah Adumah, the ashes of […]

July 13, 2016 at 3:25 AM 0 comments

The Cow and the Calf

The Cow and the Calf

“…They shall take to you a perfectly red heifer…” – Bamidbar 19:2 וְיִקְחוּ אֵלֶיךָ פָרָה אֲדֻמָּה תְּמִימָה – במדבר יט, ב The ashes of the Parah Adumah were used for the ritual purification of people or articles that contracted impurity from a dead corpse. In order to remove this impurity, the Parah Adumah must also undo to some degree the […]

July 12, 2016 at 3:22 AM 0 comments

Is Death Final? Depends Who You Ask

Is Death Final? Depends Who You Ask

“…They shall take to you a perfectly red heifer…” – Bamidbar 19:2 וְיִקְחוּ אֵלֶיךָ פָרָה אֲדֻמָּה תְּמִימָה – במדבר יט, ב The Torah commands us to prepare the ashes of a parah adumah, a red heifer, for use in the ritual purification of people or articles that contracted impurity from a dead corpse. The Torah attributes this mitzvah to Moshe, […]

July 11, 2016 at 2:22 AM 0 comments

Irrational Judaism

Irrational Judaism

“…This is the decree of Torah that G-d commanded to say. Speak to Bnei Yisrael and have them take to you, a red heifer…” – Bamidbar 19:2 זֹאת חֻקַּת הַתּוֹרָה אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה’ לֵאמֹר דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְיִקְחוּ אֵלֶיךָ פָרָה אֲדֻמָּה – במדבר יט, ב The Torah commands us to use the ashes of a parah adumah, a red […]

July 10, 2016 at 2:45 AM 0 comments

To Save Those You Love

To Save Those You Love

“…“Speak to the congregation saying, ‘Withdraw from the dwelling of Korach, Dasan and Aviram.’” And Moshe arose and went to Dasan and Aviram and the elders of Israel followed him…” – Bamidbar 16:24-25 דַּבֵּר אֶל הָעֵדָה לֵאמֹר הֵעָלוּ מִסָּבִיב לְמִשְׁכַּן קֹרַח דָּתָן וַאֲבִירָם: וַיָּקָם מֹשֶׁה וַיֵּלֶךְ אֶל דָּתָן וַאֲבִירָם וַיֵּלְכוּ אַחֲרָיו זִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל – במדבר טז, כד-כה The fate of […]

July 8, 2016 at 12:48 AM 0 comments

A Morning Person’s Teshuva

A Morning Person’s Teshuva

“…In the morning, G-d will make known who is His, and who is holy, and He will draw them near to Him…” – Bamidbar 16:5 בֹּקֶר וְיֹדַע ה’ אֶת אֲשֶׁר לוֹ וְאֶת הַקָּדוֹשׁ וְהִקְרִיב אֵלָיו – במדבר טז, ה Korach and his followers contested Moshe’s authority and his appointment of Aharon as the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest.  Moshe challenged […]

July 7, 2016 at 2:30 AM 0 comments

Same, Same but Different

Same, Same but Different

“…In the morning, G-d will make known who is His…” – Bamidbar 16:5 בֹּקֶר וְיֹדַע ה’ אֶת אֲשֶׁר לוֹ – במדבר טז, ה Korach and his followers took issue with Moshe’s authority over Bnei Yisrael. They acknowledged that G-d communicated the Torah directly to Moshe, and that Moshe was therefore superior to the rest of the nation in his understanding […]

July 6, 2016 at 2:11 AM 0 comments

Separate is Better than Equal

Separate is Better than Equal

“…In the morning, G-d will make known who is His, and who is holy, and He will draw [them] near to Him…” – Bamidbar 16:5 בֹּקֶר וְיֹדַע ה’ אֶת אֲשֶׁר לוֹ וְאֶת הַקָּדוֹשׁ וְהִקְרִיב אֵלָיו – במדבר טז, ה Korach fought for equality, which he believed to be the key to Jewish unity. “The entire congregation are all holy” (Bamidbar […]

July 5, 2016 at 7:01 AM 0 comments

Protecting Your Information

Protecting Your Information

“…The entire congregation are holy, every one of them, and G-d is in their midst. So why do you raise yourselves above the assembly of G-d?”…” – Bamidbar 16:3 כִּי כָל הָעֵדָה כֻּלָּם קְדשִׁים וּבְתוֹכָם ה’ וּמַדּוּעַ תִּתְנַשְּׂאוּ עַל קְהַל ה’ – במדבר טז, ג The Midrash (Tanchuma, Korach 2) relates that Korach challenged Moshe, “If a house is full […]

July 4, 2016 at 2:45 AM 0 comments

In Memoriam: Korach

In Memoriam: Korach

“…And Korach set [himself] apart…” – Bamidbar 16:1 וַיִּקַּח קֹרַח – במדבר טז, א “The mention of a righteous man shall be for a blessing,” says the verse in Mishlei (10:7), “but the name of the wicked shall rot.” The Talmud (Yoma 38b) interprets the latter part of this verse as a directive not to name your child after a […]

July 3, 2016 at 3:43 AM 0 comments