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Weekly Dvar Torah By Rabbi Yitzchak Gettinger 

12/03/2017 08:06:11 PM


Parsha Chayei Sarah

11/21/2019 03:44:55 PM


The main plot of Parshas Chayei Sara is Eliezer’s crucial assignment of finding a suitable match for Yitzchak.  With Avraham growing older and his lone son remaining single, the need to actualize God’s promises of perpetuation and nationhood took on a sense of urgency as Avraham sends Eliezer on a mission of paramount importance.  In introducing Eliezer, the Torah writes that Avraham turned to his slave, “the senior member of...Read more...

Parsha Noach

10/31/2019 01:58:15 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 Nitzavim

09/27/2019 03:44:23 AM


On the last day of his life, Moshe gives over his final impressions to the nation by gathering them all in a collective sense in front of God to bring them into a final and lasting covenant.  Moshe prefaces by noting that “You are all standing here today, all of you, before God…Your tribes, your elders, and your officers- all the men of Israel...your small children, your women, your converts, from the woodchopper to the...Read more...

Parsha Shoftim

09/05/2019 08:38:52 PM


The conclusion of the Parsha discusses the concept of "egla arufa," the scenario when a dead body is found between two cities and there is no evidence of the cause of death.  The Torah rules that the city closest to the body is held "accountable" for the death, and the city as a whole must undergo a unique atonement process of beheading a calf and declaring that they have no hand in this death and are not...Read more...

Parsha Re'eh

08/29/2019 06:57:06 PM


Many Pesukim in the Torah strongly emphasize the remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt, an event that is so central to Jewish belief both because of the great revelations and explicit miracles from God and because it signifies the birth of our nationhood.  While these are clearly the dominant themes of the Exodus, it is evident that there is another, perhaps secondary but nonetheless important, central theme of Judaism that is a part of...Read more...

Parsha Eikev

08/22/2019 07:38:51 PM


Parshas Eikev revisits the tragedy of the Golden Calf from Moshe’s perspective, and Moshe shares his experiences of carrying the nation through their mistake, his monumental decision to break the Luchos, and his extended prayers for God’s forgiveness.  While most of the points of the story are a review, one novel point is that when Moshe was instructed to carve new Luchos, he was also instructed to make an Aron to house the...Read more...

Parsha Va'eschanan

08/15/2019 08:40:45 PM


Parshas Va’eschanan continues with Moshe’s last lecture, with Moshe reviewing key concepts of Jewish faith and also sprinkling in new laws and insights.  Being the first core mitzvos, the Ten Commandments are revisited in exact detail, and Moshe seems to perfectly replicate what was said at Har Siani.  There are a few variances in Moshe’s review of the Ten Commandments from the way they first appear in Parshas Yisro, each of...Read more...

Parsha Devarim

08/08/2019 04:32:16 PM


In beginning his “last lecture” with the nation, one of the first issues that Moshe discusses is his struggle with being a solitary leader and how the challenge of being unaided in carrying the vast burdens of the Jewish people caused him to appoint other men to direct, judge, and guide the nation under Moshe’s general jurisdiction.  The Midrash explains this to be a reference to the story in...Read more...

Parsha Matot-Masei

08/01/2019 08:16:24 PM


The first half of the Parsha discusses the battle between the Jews and Midyan, a fight initiated by the Jews to purge themselves of any spiritual contaminations they had absorbed from Midyan’s influence. In the aftermath of the war, Moshe discovers that the Jews failed to kill the female Midyanites and is incensed at this decision, and when the Jews offer some of the spoils as a Korban to God, Moshe even suspects them of offering this...Read more...

Parsha Pinchas

07/25/2019 09:27:17 PM


The events of Parshas Pinchas are the culmination of the experiences that the Jews had in their forty year journey through the desert together with their leader Moshe.  Pinchas’s zealous act of striking a Jewish leader together with a Midanite woman spurred a command from God that the Jews should act with hostility towards the Midaanites and kill them.  The Parshas also contains one last national census of the nation, as well as...Read more...

Parsha Balak

07/18/2019 07:02:16 PM


A central theme in the story of Bilam’s failed attempts at cursing the Jewish people is the power of speech and how its usage is tied to the will of God.  The lesson of the usually silent donkey defeating Billam in debate and the lesson of Billam’s inability to convey his true thoughts in ֹֹֹwords are really one in the same with an ironic twist, that since God grants the capacity to speak, the greatest of orators may encounter...Read more...

Parsha Chukas

07/11/2019 08:02:29 PM


Parshas Chukas is particularly unique in the sense that its content spans the entire duration of B’nei Yisrael’s 40 year stay in the desert.  The opening topic of the Parsha, the detailed laws of spiritual impurity, was actually presented to the Jews during their second year in the wilderness, on the day the Mishkan was erected, (Gittin 60a) even preceding the mistake of sending spies to Israel.  From there,...Read more...

Parsha Korach

07/04/2019 11:02:59 PM


In the aftermath of Korach’s rebellion and destruction, the latter half of the Parsha discusses the 24 Priestly gifts.  Explaining the Torah’s sequence, Rashi explains that the Priestly gifts were God’s way of affirming the Kohamim’s positions and rightful entitlement as leaders of the nation.  There is a somewhat alternative approach that is rooted in the laws of how the “Yisroel,” the regular Jew, is obligated to give...Read more...

Parsha Sh'lach

06/27/2019 08:26:43 PM


The bookends of the Parsha are the infamous sin of the miraglim portraying Eretz Yisrael in a negative light and the mitzva of tziztis.  Besides the obvious connection in terms of juxtaposition, there is a unique verb that is used both in regard to the miraglim and the idea of tzitzis that further connects the two topics.  The point of tzitzis is "to remember all the mitzvos of God and to keep them, not straying...Read more...

Parsha Beha'aloscha

06/20/2019 08:13:33 PM


The Torah is comprised of many "sections" or paragraphs that have an allotted blank space in the Torah scroll both before and after the portion.  The smallest section from the whole Torah is found in this week's Parsha- the section of "Vayihi binsoa ha'aron" that contains a mere 85 letters.  Parenthetically presented, this section describes that when the nation would travel the Aron...Read more...

Parsha Naso

06/13/2019 11:05:39 PM


Parshas Naso introduces the Pesukim of Birchas Kohanim- a most famous liturgy that the Kohanim transfer from God to the people and that has customarily become a blessing from parent to child.  Made up of three stanzas, Birchas Kohanim opens with the simple words of: “May God bless you and guard you.”  It is hard to understand the direct flow between “bless you” and “guard you,” and this choppy wording is the cause for...Read more...

Parsha Bamidbar

06/06/2019 08:30:06 PM


As the title of Sefer Bamidbar suggests, the Midbar setting of the Jews’ journey to Israel was significant and defining of their stay there.  In numerous places, Chazal note that the word Midbar references different morals that can be learned from the Midbar and applied to the study of Torah.  Firstly, a Midbar is “no man’s land,” where there are no boundaries, private properties, and restricted areas; it is all open for the...Read more...

Parsha Bechukotai

05/30/2019 05:23:07 PM


The Parsha opens with God’s assurance that our observance of mitzvos will be rewarded with many physical returns, the foremost of which being rain in the right time.  For the middle-eastern agricultural society, rain is the empirical idea that Man's efforts need help from God, and that we must believe and trust in His help.  The Midrash notes that the Pasuk’s wording of “your rains” implies a sense of entitlement for rain,...Read more...

Parsha Behar

05/23/2019 07:09:04 PM


The dominating topic of Parshas Behar is Shemita, the law that maRashi explains that even meager portions will disproportionately satiate a person, implying that there would be no need for extra grain.  The commentators are left puzzled as to whether there would be a miraculous supply of grain in the sixth year or there would be a miraculous blessing in the grain which would require smaller rations. 


The...

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...

Thu, June 20 2024 14 Sivan 5784