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Weekly Dvar Torah By Rabbi Yitzchak Gettinger 

12/03/2017 08:06:11 PM


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...

Parsha Vayelech

09/13/2018 08:36:16 PM


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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...

Thu, June 20 2024 14 Sivan 5784