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Weekly Dvar Torah By Rabbi Yitzchak Gettinger 

12/03/2017 08:06:11 PM


Parsha Emor

05/16/2019 10:01:29 PM


This week’s Parsha contains the mitzvah that currently engages us, the mitzvah of Sefiras Haomer.  The word Sefira is rooted in the Shoresh of Samech, Pheh, Reish, and while it is loosely translated as counting, its precise definition remains somewhat elusive.  What is the variance between the actions of counting and saying?  Moreover, we find contexts where counting connotes a mental exercise, such as the imperative of...Read more...

Parsha Kedoshim

05/09/2019 08:42:05 PM



One of the mitzvos mentioned in Parshas Kedoshim is the laws of Orlah and Neta Reva’ai- that fruits produced from the first three years of a tree’s life are forbidden in benefit, and that the subsequent crop of the fourth year is to be eaten in Jerusalem before God.  After these mitzvos have been observed, the produce of the fifth year is now permitted to be used in any way.  Many commentators struggle with...Read more...

Parsha Acharei Mot

05/02/2019 08:30:40 PM


Jewish thought suggests that there are two factors that govern holiness- time and place- with each of these variables having their own ability to create and affect holiness.  Although both time and place control holiness, the relationship between time and holiness differs greatly from the relationship of place and holiness.  Time and holiness stem from Creation itself, when upon completing...Read more...

Parsha Metzorah

04/11/2019 08:01:38 PM


The Parsha discusses the procedure of the purification/atonement for the metzorah afflicted with tzar’as, and as the Peskukim describe, the process involves taking two birds, one to send away and one to slaughter and mix with water.  In the sugya in Eruchin 16 regarding Lashon Hara, the Gemara explains the reason that birds relate to the Metzorah is because the gossip spoken by the metzorah resembles the incessant chatter...Read more...

Parsha Tazriya

04/04/2019 08:30:23 PM


The main topic of the Parsha is the punishment of Tzar’as for speaking Lashon Harah and other similar problems.  Both the Chisudhei Harim and Sefas Emes, leaders of the Gur dynasty, point out that the words Negah, an affliction (used in the context of Tzaras), and Oneg, the Hebrew word for delight, are actually anagrams.  The key difference in the words Oneg and Nega is where the...Read more...

Parsha Shemini

03/28/2019 09:15:03 PM


At the height of the inauguration celebrations for the new Mishkan, Nadav and Avihu sinned by “bringing a strange fire before God” and tragically died on the spot, thereby marring the festivities and sending Aron and his sons into a state of mourning.  Given that the text itself is vague about the exact nature of Nadav and Avihu’ s sin, the Gemara suggests varying opinions for what their mistake was.  One of the opinions...Read more...

Parsha Tzav

03/22/2019 01:35:08 PM


Parshas Tzav discusses the specifics of many Korabos, including the Shelamim and Toda.  Korban Shelamim is a general category of voluntary Korbanos that have parts offered on the Altar, parts given to the Kohanim, and parts eaten by the owner of the Korban.  As a subcategory of Korban Shelamim, the Torah introduces the Korban Toda, which differs from a Shelamim in several ways.  Firstly, the Korban Toda is accompanied by 40...Read more...

Parsha Vayikra

03/14/2019 09:27:00 PM


From all the Korbanos mentioned in Parshas Vayikra, the Torah introduces the laws of the flour MIncha offering in a different way than the rest.  In contrast to other Korbanos where the Torah says, “if a person shall bring…,” here the Torah prefaces with a different description: “If a soul shall bring a Mincha offering.”  Explaining the usage of the...Read more...

Parsha Pekudei

03/07/2019 09:20:21 PM


One of the Kohen Gadol’s garments was the Tzitz, a golden forehead-plate that had the words “Holy to God” inscribed on its face.  In discussion of the Kohen Gadol’s outfit, the Gemara in Eruchin teaches that each one of the eight garments correlated to a specific flaw or sin that it represented and atoned for.  The Tzitz was associated with “Azus Meitzach”- literally brazen facedness- and the Kohen Gadol atoned for this...Read more...

Parsha Vayakhel

02/28/2019 08:40:45 PM


Continuing the topic of building a Mishkan, the Parsha relates the commandment to contribute to the cause by donating all sorts of raw materials necessary for constructing the Mishkan.  The Torah writes: “And you shall take for me a contribution, from every person whose heart inspires him to generosity.”  What does it mean to “take” a...Read more...

Parsha Ki Sisa

02/21/2019 09:28:39 PM


The concluding verses in the Torah depict Moshe Rabbeinu’s unparalleled greatness as both a prophet and leader for the Jewish people, and this description ends with the words: “with all the strength of hand and great awe, which Moshe performed in front of all of Israel.”  In elaboration of the words, “in front of all of Israel,” Rashi explains that this references the spontaneous decision Moshe made in destroying the Luchos...Read more...

Parsha Tetzaveh

02/14/2019 09:13:39 PM


One of the Kohen Gadol’s garments was the Tzitz, a golden forehead-plate that had the words “Holy to God” inscribed on its face.  In discussion of the Kohen Gadol’s outfit, the Gemara in Eruchin teaches that each one of the eight garments correlated to a specific flaw or sin that it represented and atoned for.  The Tzitz was associated with “Azus Meitzach”- literally brazen facedness- and the Kohen Gadol atoned for this...Read more...

Parsha Terumah

02/07/2019 08:46:53 PM


Introducing the topic of building a Mishkan, the Parsha opens with the commandment to contribute to the cause by donating all sorts of raw materials necessary for constructing the Mishkan.  The Torah writes: “And you shall take for me a contribution, from every person whose heart inspires him to generosity.”  What does it mean to “take” a contribution?  If the intended idea is for each person to give some money to the...Read more...

Parsha Mishpatim

01/31/2019 08:58:59 PM


There are different points in the Parsha that emphasize the value of listening, and specifically how listening can have intrinsic value that is not measured by its active outcome.  Although Matan Torah was in last week’s Parsha, it is the end of Parshas Mishpatim that relates the axiomatic phrase of Jewish commitment- “Na’ase V’nishma”- we shall do...Read more...

Parsha Yitro

01/24/2019 07:59:53 PM


The Ten Commandments were divided into two tablets, and the Ramban famously categorizes the first five commandments as being between Man and God, and the latter half as being between Man and his fellow man.  Although the fifth commandment, to honor one’s parents, is not directly between Man and God, the Ramban explains that since parents “partner” with God, so to speak, in creating a child, honoring parents is a derivative of...Read more...

Parsha Beshalach

01/17/2019 09:25:51 PM


Sandwiched between an unapproachable Yam Suf and an incensed Egyptian Army, the Jewish people’s reaction to this terrifying predicament seems to be quite paradoxical.  On the one hand, they respond in prayer by crying out to God, but as the very next Pasuk indicates, they also lash out at Moshe by condemning him for their problems and wishing they had never left Egypt.  While the Ramban says that it is inconceivable that one group...Read more...

Parsha Bo

01/10/2019 08:25:48 PM


The first Pesach was celebrated in Egypt, the night before the Jews were finally freed of their bonds of slavery, and is referred to in the Mishna as “Pesach Mitzrayim.”  Although “pesach mitzrayim” shared many laws with the regular laws of Pesach, or the “pesach doros” in the Mishna’s words, it is still Halachically unique in certain...Read more...

Parsha Vaera

01/03/2019 08:45:29 PM


A common phrase in the narrative of the Exodus is God’s reference to “taking the Jews from Egypt with a strong/outstretched arm.”  This same phrase is also found in the context of the mitzvah of Tefillin, which serve as a reminder for the Exodus, where the Torah succinctly sums up the point “so that you shall remember that God extricated you from Egypt with a strong hand.”  The implication is that it is not enough to...Read more...

Parsha Shemot

12/27/2018 09:15:33 PM


Sefer Shemos introduces the character of Moshe Rabeinu, the first and quintessential leader of the Jewish people in their embryonic form.  As much as the Torah is the collective story and history of the Jewish people, it is also very much the story of one individual, Moshe, of his triumphs and vicissitudes in controlling and motivating a young and stubborn nation.  An obvious requisite for any leader is to connect to his subjects...Read more...

Parsha Vayechi

12/20/2018 08:14:48 PM


The Gemara says that when the brothers arrived to Ma’aras Hamachpela to bury Yaakov, Eisav confronted them by claiming that as the older twin, he was entitled to the last remaining burial spot.  An ensuing debate broke out, with the brothers arguing that Eisav forfeited this right when he sold his birthright to Yakov, and Eisav arguing that he only sold his extra...Read more...

Parsha Vayigash

12/13/2018 09:57:59 PM


The dramatic showdown in the beginning of the Parsha is set by Yehuda’s courageous approach before Yosef, where he demands that Binyamin be returned to his anxious father.  There is a great deal of discussion in the Midrash about the power of Yehuda’s advancement and its effects upon Egypt, and while the incredible stories in the Midrash are hardly hinted at in the...Read more...

Parsha Vayeishev

11/29/2018 07:30:37 PM


In the shevatim’s nefarious plot to murder their brother Yosef, there are two leaders who protect Yosef and ensure that he is not murdered- Reuven and Yehuda.  In the words of the Torah, Revuen heard and saved Yosef from their hands, clearly showing that Reuven saved Yosef with his initiative of throwing Yosef in a pit.  In Vayikra Rabba, the Midrash says that had Reuven known that the Torah would...Read more...

Parsha Vayishlach

11/22/2018 09:08:49 PM


In a peacemaking role, Yaakov prepares for his dreaded encounter with Eisav by sending an appeasing present backed by a pacifying statement.  Yaakov’s opening words to Eisav are simply “I have been living with Lavan,” but despite the seemingly trivial and innocuous tone of these words, they truly give us insight into the depth of Yaakov and Eisav’s interaction and dialogue.  Rashi comments that Yaakov meant to convey to...Read more...

Parsha Vayetzei

11/15/2018 08:37:24 PM


The main imagery in Yaakov’s famous dream in the beginning of the Parsha is the ladder, a great ladder that connected Heaven and Earth and featured angles ascending and descending on its rungs.  Although it is the ladder that has made Yaakov’s dream so famous, it is hard to see why the ladder had anything to do with God’s message in the dream that He would protect Yaakov, grant him a large family and nation, and give him the Land...Read more...

Parsha Toldot

11/08/2018 10:14:19 PM


At the dramatic climax of Yaakov’s surreptitious ploy to receive Yitzchak’s blessings in place of his brother, Eisav, Yitzchak calls for Yaakov to approach his bed.  As Yaakov approaches, Yitzchak smelled the fragrance of his garments and blessed him, by saying: “Look, the fragrance of my son is like the fragrance of a field which God has blessed.”  Noting that Yaakov was wearing garments made from goat hairs, Rashi wonders...Read more...

Parsha Chayei Sara

11/01/2018 10:07:32 PM


In the quest to find a wife for Yitzchak, it is Eliezer, the loyal servant of Avraham, who is the protagonist in the story and whose words and thoughts fill much of the Parsha.  Despite this esteemed status of lead-role, Eliezer is not mentioned by name, referred to instead as “the servant.”  While this is undoubtably reflective of Eliezer’s humility and capacity to completely “nullify” himself to Avraham, it still seems a...Read more...

Parsha Vayera

10/25/2018 09:58:22 PM


The ability to “see” is highlighted quite a few times in the Parsha, and it seems that supernatural sight is the instrument that facilitates the miracles of the Parsha.  “Avraham raises his eyes and sees three men coming” is the way he greets the angels, then in the Akeida episode, “Avraham raises his eyes and sees the place from afar” to “find” the location of the Akeida, and finally,...Read more...

Parsha Noach

10/11/2018 08:33:48 PM


Parshas Noach spans two periods of time- before the destructive flood and after- and depicts Noach’s role of facilitating the transition between the pre-flood world and the post-flood world.  Noach is uniquely defined by this rebuilding task, as we do not find other characters in the Torah who are given such a mission.  In order to better understand Noach’s role in this job, we can look back to Parshas Bereishis to the naming of...Read more...

Parsha Bereshis

10/04/2018 08:02:48 PM


The first letter of the Torah,“בְּ,” is the subject of much Midrashic and Kabbalistic thought, as the various sources grapple with why the Torah begins with the second letter of the alphabet as opposed to “א.”  One of the ideas mentioned is that א represents אֶחָד- togetherness and singularity, while בְּ (two) represents disconnect and separation, and that the world was formed with the premise of בְּ and not...Read more...

Parsha Ha'Azinu

09/20/2018 09:16:05 PM


Written in poetic form, Parshas Ha'azinu is referred to as a "song" that discusses the future destiny of the Jewish people with specific elaboration upon the various pitfalls and tragedies that await them.  Although the song does end with a happy tone of God redeeming the Jews, the theme of Ha'azinu is downright frightening with its cautionary tones and threatening words. ("A fire will blaze in you to the lowest depths..I will heap...Read more...

Thu, May 23 2019 18 Iyyar 5779