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Faith and Ethics

Like Lebanon

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This week’s Haftarah begins with the call, “Return, Israel, to your G-d, for you have failed with your sin” [Hosea 14:2]. This is oriented towards the Kingdom of Israel, where Hosea prophesied. Therefore, he uses the names Israel and Ephraim which are pertinent for the tribes in the north. The main reason that it was difficult for the northern tribes ... Read More »

Darkness and Light

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The redemption of Israel has consequences not only for the nation of Israel, which returns to freedom and to its original identity, it is also important for all the nations of the world. And this is true not only in the political realm but also in the realm of theology. This is clear from this week’s Haftarah: “Rise up! Shine ... Read More »

“Not in Haste”

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The word “chipazon” – haste – appears only three times in the entire Bible. Two of the times are in the Torah: “Eat it in haste, it is Pesach for G-d” [Shemot 12:11], and “For you left Egypt in haste” [Deuteronomy 16:3]. The third time is in the Haftarah for this week’s Torah portion, “not in haste” [Isaiah 52:12]. The ... Read More »

“I am Their Deeds”

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(Written for those whose custom is to read the Haftarah of Rosh Chodesh even for the month of Elul.) The essence of Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of a new month) is renewal, based on returning to the beginning. We look back at the beginning of creation and its objectives. And that is why this Haftarah begins with the paradox that ... Read More »

G-d of All Gods

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The belief in “yichud” – G-d as something unique and special, with nothing else that can be compared to Him – raises a fair amount of difficulties when we try to understand the verses in the Bible. The straightforward language of the Bible implies that there are a number of deities, where G-d is directly related to the Children of ... Read More »

Like Sodom

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The strong words in the prophecy of Isaiah, son of Amoz, which include the harshest phrases ever to be used against the Children of Israel in the entire Bible, reach the peak of their sting when the prophet compares the nation of Israel to Sodom and Gomorrah: “If the G-d of Hosts had not left us a tiny remnant, we ... Read More »

Half of the Tribe of Manasseh

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The tribes of Reuben and Gad came to Moses and asked to get possession of the land on the eastern side of the Jordan River. This is part of the Land of Israel but not within the Land of Canaan. The Land of Canaan does not share any borders with a foreign population. To the south is a desert, to ... Read More »

A Sound of Silence

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What is the meaning of the Divine revelation to the Prophet Elijah at Mount Horeb? The explanation given by Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook is well known, that in a way it was a lesson for Elijah, accompanied by a scolding, since his zealous defense of G-d was not perfect and was tainted by a personal matter, when he said, “They ... Read More »

Jephthah in his Generation

Jephthah is not considered an especially outstanding man, not in Torah wisdom and not as a public leader. The sages list him as one of the “minor people” of the world, whose lack of seriousness cost him the life of his daughter. He collects empty people around him, and he is banned from his own family (Judges 11:3). However, when ... Read More »

“For we have Heard”

Rahab helps the two scouts that Joshua sent, even though she knows that they have come to conquer Jericho. At first glance this would seem to be an act of treason against her own people and an act supporting the invaders. However, she can justify her actions based on a number of significant claims. Rahab’s first claim is a realization ... Read More »