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Weekly Dvar Torah By Rabbi Yitzchak Gettinger 

12/03/2017 08:06:11 PM


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...

Parsha Chukas

06/28/2018 09:12:05 PM


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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...

Tue, July 16 2019 13 Tammuz 5779