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Weekly Dvar Torah By Rabbi Yitzchak Gettinger 

12/03/2017 08:06:11 PM

Dec3

Parsha Noach

10/11/2018 08:33:48 PM

Oct11

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

Oct4

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

Sep20

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...

Parsha Vayelech

09/13/2018 08:36:16 PM

Sep13

The second to last mitzvah in the Torah is “Hakhel,” the septennial mitzvah to gather all the Jews together for a public Torah reading on Chol Hamoed Succos in the Temple.  Besides the basic point of public Torah study, Hakhel, as its name suggests, stresses the importance of group gathering that includes not only men, but women and even small children as well. ...Read more...

Parsha Nitzavim

09/06/2018 09:50:02 PM

Sep6

         

On the last day of his life, Moshe relates 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...Read more...

Parsha Ki Savo

08/30/2018 09:45:09 PM

Aug30

One of the mitzvos in the Parsha is the “biur ma’asros”- the mitzvah to clean out all tithes from the house every few years and give them to their correct places.  After doing this, there is another accompanying mitzvah, called “vidui ma’asros,” where the owner of the tithes declares that he hasfollowed all the rules of tithing-...Read more...

Parsha Ki Teitzei

08/23/2018 07:56:50 PM

Aug23

Although shoes appear to be a simple and mundane part of life, the truth is that shoes are really the manifestation of a deep Jewish concept.  As indicated by the numerous shoe references that have seeped into our speech, such as “If the shoe fits, wear it,” “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes,” “Wait until the other shoe drops,” and “Big shoes to fill,” there is great significance placed on...Read more...

Parsha Shoftim

08/16/2018 07:38:17 PM

Aug16

With the Jews on the brink of entering Israel, the laws and protocol for fighting wars is very relevant in the discussions of Parshas Shoftim, and one of the key themes involved in the laws of war is the various discharges provided for certain soldiers to return home.  After the Torah delineates the particular dispensations for a man who has betrothed a woman but not yet consummated his marriage, a man who has built a home and not yet...Read more...

Parsha Re'eh

08/09/2018 08:49:24 PM

Aug9

Parshas Re’eh also coincides with Rosh Chodesh Elul, and whether Re’eh is read on Rosh Chodesh itself or the Shabbos preceding Rosh Chodesh, there is definitely a deep connection between the two.  The Chassidic masters popularized the value of finding hints to Chodesh Elul throughout Tanach, and one unlikely source is found in Tehillim 100, a chapter that is incorporated in Shachris every day.  The third verse is written: ...Read more...

Parsha Eikev

08/02/2018 08:06:47 PM

Aug2

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...Read more...

Parsha Va'eschanan

07/26/2018 08:18:43 PM

Jul26

The Parsha opens with Moshe’s request to enter Israel, and despite his incessant begging and hundreds of Tefilos, God emphatically responds with a “no.”  Moshe is told “Rav Lach”-it is much for you and beyond you, and the Gemara in Sota 13b notes that these words of “Rav Lach” were ironically used by Moshe himself to squash Korach’s claims to leadership.  As the Gemara concludes, Moshe invoked “Rav Lachem” to...Read more...

Parsha Devarim

07/19/2018 09:33:19 PM

Jul19

Sefer Devarim begins with Moshe rebuking the nation for all their wrongdoings of the past 40 years.  Moshe’s rebuke is at times explicit, at times implicit, and still sometimes veiled within his collective narrative of the events that transpired in the desert.  Assuming that Moshe’s lecture was indeed somewhat of a scolding, Moshe’s opening remarks seem strangely out of place and incongruous with the harsh criticism that...Read more...

Parsha Matos

07/12/2018 10:47:01 PM

Jul12

Rosh Chodesh Av ushers in the time period referred to as the “nine days,” when the morning period of the “three weeks” intensifies acutely in preparation for the great upcoming day of Tisha B’av.  Out of sensitivity in trying to appreciate the loss of the Beis Hamikdash, the law mandates that one should abstain from regular indulgences and luxuries during this time, which include eating meat, wearing freshly laundered clothing,...Read more...

Parsha Pinchas

07/05/2018 10:32:15 PM

Jul5

The Parsha opens by rewarding Pinchas for his zealous act of killing Zimri while he was involved in relations with a Midanite woman, as God promises Pinchas a covenant of “peace” and a covenant of priesthood for him and his descendants.  The Torah stresses the lineage of Pinchas, writing “Pinchas- the son of Elazar the son of Aron Hakohen,” because, as the Gemara explains, the tribes were ridiculing Pinchas, saying, “Have you...Read more...

Parsha Chukas

06/28/2018 09:12:05 PM

Jun28

While the protagonist of Parshas Balak is undoubtedly the character Billam, his talking donkey is not far behind in capturing the essence of the miraculous chain of events and the true nature of the power of speech.  As the Mishna in Avos teaches that this bizarre and uncanny creation of a talking donkey was made at the final moments of the six days of Creation, we should relate to the talking donkey as a vital part of Billam’s story...Read more...

Parsha Chukas

06/21/2018 09:39:05 PM

Jun21

The infamous sin of Moshe Rabeinu hitting the rock instead of speaking to it is perhaps the most esoteric story in the entire Torah, both in terms of the cryptic text used to describe it and the mysterious nature of the sin itself.  Ranging from the Rambam's ancient and elaborate explanation in his work "Shemone Perakim" to contemporary thinkers, every commentator is puzzled by demanding questions from even a cursory look at the...Read more...

Parsha Korach

06/15/2018 12:00:28 PM

Jun15

After destroying Korach and his followers, God called for a new test to remove any lingering doubts the nation had in accepting Aron as the right choice for Kohen Gadol.  Each tribe presented one staff, upon which was written the name of its leader, and miraculously, Aron's staff blossomed, sprouted a bud, and almonds ripened on it.  The staff became a demonstrable expression of God's choice in Aron, and it was left in the Aron...Read more...

Parsha Shelach

06/07/2018 09:31:59 PM

Jun7

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 B’haaloscha 

05/31/2018 08:56:34 PM

May31

At the very end of the Parsha, Miriam and Aron speak badly about Moshe’s marriage, and when Miriam is subsequently punished with Tzara’as, the Torah says that she was quarantined outside the camp for seven days while the people waited for her return before resuming their travels.  Citing examples for the idea that God rewards a person beyond the proportions of their actions, the Mishna in Sota (9b) explains that God was honoring...Read more...

Parsha Nasso

05/24/2018 08:51:28 PM

May24

The end of the Parsha discusses the inauguration of the new Mishkan, and specifically the special offerings brought by the leaders of the twelve tribes to begin the service.  Although each of the leaders brought exactly identical Korbanos, the Torah still enumerates each detail of the twelve Korbanos in a lengthy and repetitious manner.  Why does the Torah need to individualize each of the Korbanos and not just succinctly say that...Read more...

Parsha Bamidbar

05/18/2018 12:35:14 PM

May18

Besides the general national census that takes up most of the Parsha, there was an additional census taken of just the firstborn males, and the subsequent mitzvah given to redeem those firstborns by giving a Kohen five skekel coins per firstborn. Why was the redemption price set at five shekels?  Rashi explains that this was commensurate to the price...Read more...

Parshas Kedoshim

04/26/2018 07:55:00 PM

Apr26

Parshas Kedoshim introduces a wide assortment of mitzvos, and it is hard to discern any sort of meaning in the sequence of the ostensibly disorganized presentation of these new laws. However, Chazal understood that there must be meaning to the order of the Torah, and they expound various lessons and teachings based on the juxtaposition on the Pesukim.  Given...Read more...

Parsha Shemini

04/12/2018 07:04:08 PM

Apr12

After Nadav and Avihu’s deaths spoiled the Mishan’s festive inaugural festivities, the Torah describes Aron’s reaction to this tragedy in two words- וַיִּדֹּם אַהֲרֹן.  In his commentary to Torah, Onkelos translates the words to mean that Aharon was silent, an interpretation that most Rishonim use in their commentaries.  Simply understood, Aron did not question God or complain about his emotional...Read more...

Parsha Tzav

03/22/2018 08:42:23 PM

Mar22

Many of the Korbanos offered in the Temple were eaten by the Kohanim, and there seems to be conflicting impressions regarding which specific Kohen would eat the Korban.  On the one hand, the Torah writes about the Korban Asham:” Every male among the Kohanim shall eat it,” indicating that Korbanos are to be divided among the Kohanim.  On the other hand, the Torah writes about the Korban Chatas: “the Kohen who...Read more...

Parsha Vayakhel

03/08/2018 07:17:10 PM

Mar8

The dynamic duo who built the Mishkan, Betzalel and Ahaliav, come from two opposite extremes.  Betzalel descends from great lineage, from the tribe of Yehuda and specifically the grandson of Chur, while Ahaliav is from the tribe of Dan, who, in the words of Rashi 35:34, is the “lowest of the tribes.”  Citing the Midrash, Rashi explains that God composed a team from the highest of the high and the lowest of the low to fulfill...Read more...

Parsha Ki Sisa

02/27/2018 10:15:54 PM

Feb27

After Moshe descends from the mountain with the two Tablets in hand, he is met by his loyal student and attendant, Yehoshua.  Evidently, Yehoshua’s very “place” was by his teacher Moshe, and he remained at the foot of mountain for the duration of the time Moshe was away.  Yehoshua was therefore absent from the drama of the Golden Calf, and when the loud sounds of celebration around the Calf reached Yehoshua’s ears, he...Read more...

Parsha Tetzavah

02/25/2018 05:03:55 PM

Feb25

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 Mishpatim

02/08/2018 07:44:12 PM

Feb8

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 and we shall listen.  The order of the commitment, we shall do before we...Read more...

Parshas Yisro

02/02/2018 10:43:52 AM

Feb2

Besides being Moshe Rabbeinu’s father in law, Yisro is famous for being the first outsider to join the Jewish People.  There is a discussion in the Gemara regarding the timing of when Yisro joined the Jews, as the Tannaim disagree whether Yisro came before or after Matan Torah.  In analysis of this dispute, the Gemara says it depends on the interpretation of the opening words of the Parsha, “And Yisro heard,” as one opinion...Read more...

Parshas Beshalach

01/26/2018 10:03:57 AM

Jan26

The bookends of the Parsha depict battles with two enemies of the Jews, with Pharoh and Mitzrayim pursuing the Jews in the beginning of the Parsha and the insidious attack of Amalek at the end of the Parsha.  Although both sought to expunge the name of the Jews for eternity, we find a tremendous distinction in the way the Torah now mandates us to relate to Mitzrayim and Amalek.  We are taught to relate to Amalek with a no tolerance...Read more...

Thu, October 18 2018 9 Cheshvan 5779