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Posted by: Benjamin
The Virtual Beit Midrash, and the people and organizations quoted on http://www.vbm-torah.org, are in no way associated with peshat.com and views expressed here.

YESHIVAT HAR ETZION
ISRAEL KOSCHITZKY VIRTUAL BEIT MIDRASH (VBM)
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INTRODUCTION TO PARASHAT HASHAVUA
PARASHAT VAERA

The Exodus - "Peshat" and "Derash"
by Rav David Silverberg


I. Introduction

Parashat Vaera focuses on the ten "makkot," the plagues that bring havoc and destruction upon the land of Egypt in response to Pharaoh's refusal to free the Hebrew slaves. This extended process of ten plagues reveals that God's plan involves more than His nation's freedom. If He intended solely to liberate the slaves from Pharaoh's rule, a single miraculous blow would have sufficed. But, as the Almighty Himself tells Moshe, He has an additional goal in mind, as well: "The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand over Egypt and bring the Israelites from their midst" (7:5). Last week, we read of Pharaoh's defiant response to God's order to set the slaves free: "Who is God that I should heed Him and let Israel go? I do not know God, nor will I let Israel go" (5:2). The redemption process must therefore entail an exhibition of divine strength that brings the Egyptian empire to its knees.

Our shiur this week will address the question as to whether any corresponding process was necessary on Benei Yisrael's part. Did God demand anything from them to earn their freedom? Were they charged with any religious responsibilities or obligations as prerequisites for their emancipation? Much later in Tanakh, in the book of Yechezkel, we find explicit proof to the fact that God had, indeed, called upon the Hebrew slaves to repent: "When I made Myself known to them in the land of Egypt" I also said to them: cast away, every one of you, the detestable things of his eyes, and do not defile yourselves with the fetishes of Egypt" (Yechezkel 20:5,7). In the Chumash itself, however, no such explicit indication is to be found. We will try to demonstrate that the "peshat," or straightforward reading of the narrative in the book of Shemot, and the "derash," the homiletic tradition of our Sages, point us in two opposite directions. As we will see, this issue serves as a beautiful example of the interplay between these two levels of interpretation, which will hopefully enhance our appreciation for the study of peshat on the one hand, and for the brilliance and power of derash, on the other.

I must assume this is a poor choice of words - demonstrating that the "peshat" meaning and the "derash" tradition point us in two opposite directions. Let's assure the "derash" tradition does not lead one from the "peshat" understanding of the Torah.

Deuteronomy Chapter 4
1 And now, O Israel, hearken unto the statutes and unto the ordinances, which I teach you, to do them; that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which YHWH, the God of your fathers, giveth you.
2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from it, that ye may keep the commandments of YHWH your God which I command you.

The well-known statement of the Talmud ein mikra yotze midei peshuto (Shabbat 63a; Yev. 11b, 24a) is rendered in the Soncino translation, "A verse cannot depart from its plain meaning."
- Louis Rabinowitz,
The Talmudic Meaning of Peshat
Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Thought, 6:1, 1963.

There are two possible indications of an obligation on Benei Yisrael's part in preparation for the Exodus, one in Parashat Vaera, and another in Parashat Bo. We will study each instance and contrast the peshat approach with the homiletic interpretation.

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Posted by: Benjamin
Ami Hertz, and the people and organizations quoted on http://www.amhaaretz.org, are in no way associated with peshat.com and views expressed here.

All Torah was written down
Ami Hertz
October 23, 2004

This page is part of the book Critique of the Oral Torah.

In this chapter, I show that, contrary to Rabbinical claims about the Oral Torah, Moses wrote down all of the Torah.

1. Many passages throughout the Jewish Bible say that Moses wrote down the Torah. Here are some examples.

Moses wrote down this Teaching [ha-torah - התורה] and gave it to the priests, sons of Levi, who carried the Ark of YHWH's Covenant, and to all the elders of Israel.

Deuteronomy Chapter 31
9 And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, that bore the ark of the covenant of YHWH, and unto all the elders of Israel.
10 And Moses commanded them, saying: 'At the end of every seven years, in the set time of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles,
11 when all Israel is come to appear before YHWH thy God in the place which He shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing.
12 Assemble the people, the men and the women and the little ones, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear YHWH your God, and observe to do all the words of this law;
13 and that their children, who have not known, may hear, and learn to fear YHWH your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over the Jordan to possess it.'

And Moses instructed them as follows: Every seventh year, the year set for remission, at the Feast of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before YHWH your God in the place that He will choose, you shall read [tiqra - תקרא] this Teaching [ha-torah] aloud in the presence of all Israel. Gather the people - men, women, children, and the strangers in your communities - that they may hear and so learn to revere YHWH your God and to observe faithfully every word of this Teaching [divrei ha-torah - דברי התורה]. Their children, too, who have not had the experience, shall hear and learn to revere YHWH your God as long as they live in the land that you are about to cross the Jordan to possess. (Deut. 31:9-13)

This passages says that Moses wrote down the Torah. He commanded that the Torah be read every seventh year in the presence of all the people, so that the people learn to follow this Written Torah. Moses makes no mention of following another Torah, in addition to the one that he wrote down.

Deuteronomy Chapter 31
24 And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished,
25 that Moses commanded the Levites, that bore the ark of the covenant of YHWH, saying:
26 'Take this book of the law, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of YHWH your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.
27 For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck; behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against YHWH; and how much more after my death?
28 Assemble unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to witness against them.
29 For I know that after my death ye will in any wise deal corruptly, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the end of days; because ye will do that which is evil in the sight of YHWH, to provoke Him through the work of your hands.'

When Moses had put down in writing the words of this Teaching [divrei ha-torah] in a book [sefer - ספר] to the very end, Moses charged the Levites who carried the Ark of the Covenant of YHWH, saying: Take this book of Teaching [sefer ha-torah] and place it beside the Ark of the Covenant of YHWH your God, and let it remain there as a witness against you. Well I know how defiant and stiffnecked you are: even now, while I am still alive in your midst, you have been defiant toward YHWH; how much more, then, when I am dead! Gather to me all the elders of your tribes and your officials, that I may speak all these words to them and that I may call heaven and earth to witness against them. For I know that, when I am dead, you will act wickedly and turn away from the path that I enjoined upon you, and that in time to come misfortune will befall you for having done evil in the sight of YHWH and vexed Him by your deeds. (Deut. 31:24-29)

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02/13/08: Purim

Posted by: Benjamin
Taken from Jewish Encyclopedia, Purim

According to the New Moon Report which can be received from a monthly newsletter at Karaite-Korner.org, the new moon was seen in Israel on Friday, February 8, 2008. Thus beginning the Twelfth Biblical Month, Adar.

For 2008, Adar 14th (Purim) is February 22nd, 2008.


Jewish feast celebrated annually on the l4th, and in Shushan, Persia, also on the 15th, of Adar, in commemoration of the deliverance of the Persian Jews from the plot of Haman to exterminate them, as recorded in the Book of Esther. According to that book the feast was instituted as a national one by Mordecai and Esther. For a critical view of Purim see Esther. In the present article are treated only the various features of the feast as developed after its institution.

Esther Chapter 9
1 Now in the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king's commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have rule over them; whereas it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them;
2 the Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the king hasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt; and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them was fallen upon all the peoples.
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17 on the thirteenth day of the month Adar, and on the fourteenth day of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.
18 But the Jews that were in Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof, and on the fourteenth thereof; and on the fifteenth day of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.
19 Therefore do the Jews of the villages, that dwell in the unwalled towns, make the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another.
20 And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both nigh and far,
21 to enjoin them that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly,
22 the days wherein the Jews had rest from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to gladness, and from mourning into a good day; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.


Non-Religious Character.

Aside from the much-mooted question whether Purim is of Jewish or of heathen origin, it is certain that, as it appears in the Book of Esther, the festival is altogether devoid of religious spirit - an anomaly in Jewish religious history. This is due to the worldly spirit of the Book of Esther. The only religious allusions therein are the mention of fasting in iv. 16 and ix. 31, and perhaps the expression of confidence in the deliverance of Israel in iv. 14. This secular character has on the whole been most prominent in this festival at all times. Like Ḥanukkah, it has never been universally considered a religious holy day, in spite of the fact that it is designated by the term "yom-ṭob" (Esth. ix. 19, 22.). Accordingly business transactions and even manual labor are allowed on Purim, although in certain places restrictions have been imposed on work (Shulḥan 'Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 696).

Nevertheless Purim has been held in high esteem at all times and in all countries, some even maintaining that when all the prophetical and hagiographical works shall be forgotten the Book of Esther will still be remembered, and, accordingly, the Feast of Purim will continue to be observed (Yer. Meg. i. 5a; Maimonides, "Yad," Megillah, iii. 18; comp. Schudt, "J'dische Merkw'rdigkeiten," ii. 311). It is also claimed that Purim is as great as the day on which the Torah was given on Sinai ("Mordekai" on B. M. ix., end; comp. Lampronti, "Paḥad Yiẓḥaḳ," s.v. "Purim"). In Italy the Jews, it seems, have even used the word "Purim" as a family name, which also proves the high esteem that the festival enjoys among them (Vogelstein and Rieger, "Gesch. der Juden in Rom," ii. 420; but comp. Steinschneider in "Monatsschrift," 1903, p. 175).

The Book of Esther does not prescribe any religious service for Purim; it enjoins only the annual celebration of the feast among the Jews on the 14th and 15th of Adar, commanding that they should "make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor." It seems, therefore, that the observance of Purim was at first merely of a convivial and social nature. Gradually it assumed religious features.

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Abraham Collier is in no way associated with peshat.com.

Do Not Equate Karaism with Zionism
by Abraham Collier


Introduction

The anti-Zionist organisations such as True Torah Jews, Jews Against Zionism, and Neturei Karta are 100% correct in their assessment of Zionist history, motives, and politics. They are 100% correct in their feelings toward the State of Israel and the inherent dangers that plague all Jews, Zionist or not, because of Israel's policies and "peace" negotiations. They are 100% correct in stating that the State of Israel is a secular apostasy and pseudo democracy that is ungodly in every way.

I am writing today because I read a True Torah Jews brochure entitled, 'On This Day of Independence from Zionism' and am concerned with how the organisation quoted a Rabbanite scholar who equated the Karaites with Zionism. I disagree with this rabbi and True Torah Jew's use of this material. I am worried about the implications the quote may have in regards to the views of Jews, ****ians, Muslims, and secularists, who, regardless of their favour or dislike for Zionism, toward Karaites. There is already a significant amount of ignorance and misinformation about Karaites from orthodox Rabbanite sources and to equate us to Zionism is quite distasteful and misleading.

The Quote

"The Jewish people have suffered many plagues: the Sadducees, Karaites, Hellenisers, Shabbasai Zvi, Haskalah, Reform and many others. But the strongest of them all is Zionism." (Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik, Mishkenos Haro'im, p. 269)

Any novice student of Jewish history recognises each of these movements as heretical in the eyes of Orthodox Rabbanite Judaism. Please note that I am not implying in favour of any of these groups, with the exception of Karaism seeing that I lean towards Karaite beliefs myself.

Deuteronomy Chapter 4
1 And now, O Israel, hearken unto the statutes and unto the ordinances, which I teach you, to do them; that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which YHWH, the God of your fathers, giveth you.
2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from it, that ye may keep the commandments of YHWH your God which I command you.

The well-known statement of the Talmud ein mikra yotze midei peshuto (Shabbat 63a; Yev. 11b, 24a) is rendered in the Soncino translation, "A verse cannot depart from its plain meaning."
Louis Rabinowitz
The Talmudic Meaning of Peshat
Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Thought, 6:1, 1963.

It is of necessity to remind you that the Pharisees, who are the ancestors of the Rabbanites, were the enemies of all Judaism during the Second Temple Era. Once this is understood, you will see how Rabbanite Judaism is the true plague that maladies the Jews.

The Pharisee and Sadducee Controversy

When one studies the Second Temple Era, they are usually overwhelmed by the contradictions, obscurities, and blatant bias that many historians, philosophers, clergymen and rabbis had towards the Jews at that time. Josephus, he is probably the best source for knowledge of this period, states:

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Category: General
Posted by: Benjamin
Jews Against Zionism, and the people and organizations quoted on their site, are in no way associated with peshat.com and views expressed here.


The Central Rabbinical Congress of the U.S.A. and Canada placed a quarter-page ad in today's New York Times, affirming the opposition of hundreds of thousands of Orthodox Jews to Zionism and Jewish rule over the Holy Land during exile, and denouncing religious Zionist groups as falsifiers of the Torah. The ad appeared in the newspaper on page A-20.

The text of the ad was as follows:

A Clarification of Torah Doctrine

Consistently, throughout the peace process in the Middle East, various Jewish religious organizations and parties have raised their voices in opposition to the return of territories to the Arabs, issuing statements that, according to the Torah, Jews are forbidden to give up any land in the Holy Land (especially part of Jerusalem).

Land sold returns to the original owner on the Year of Return - Jubilee. The timing of the next Jubilee year appears to be debatable.

Leviticus Chapter 27
24 In the year of jubilee the field shall return unto him of whom it was bought, even to him to whom the possession of the land belongeth.

Accordingly, it has become a commonplace that religious Jews are supportive of stopping the peace process. In the public mind, the policies of these parties became synonymous with Torah Doctrine. Moreover, they are portrayed in the media as "ultra-nationalists" willing to exchange "peace" for "land".

This impression is utterly false. All forms of Zionism, be they secular or religious, are inherently antithetical to the teaching of our faith! The great sages and saints of our people have always been opposed to the existence of the Zionist State. Indeed, when an obscure Viennese journalist first challenged the Torah approach to exile and redemption, over one hundred years ago, he was immediately attacked by the Torah sages of that time. Those orthodox Jews who support the Israeli state and "Greater Israel" are falsifiers of Torah doctrine. They have abandoned the principles of their predecessors.

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01/06/08: Karaites are Jews

Category: General
Posted by: Benjamin
Go here for the Karaite Declaration of Faith: The Karaite "Declaration of Faith"

The Karaite Synagogue is the oldest Synagogue in Jerusalem. It was built between 760-920 A.D. by the Karaite Jews.
VIDEO:






Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef statements:
Jews of the Amazon By Ariel Segal Freilich
The long standing dispute between Karaites and Orthodox Jews continued until 1973 when the chief rabbi of the Sephardic community of Israel, Ovadia Yosef, recognized Karaites as full-fledged Jews. This proclamation has not altered the agreement that allows the Karaites to conduct their own civil affairs.


JPost.com: Ask the Rabbi: O brother
In the 20th century, the State of Israel recognized the right of Karaites to immigrate under the Law of Return. The rabbinate, however, remains sharply divided over the ability of Karaites and their descendents to marry Jewish Israelis. While prominent Ashkenazi decisors Rabbi Avraham Sherman (Tehumin 19) and Rabbi Eliezer Waldenburg (Tzitz Eliezer 5:16) harshly criticized such marriages, two former Sephardi chief rabbis, Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer EH 8:12) and Eliahu Bakshi-Doron (Tehumin 18, 20) adopted more lenient positions, especially in cases when these Karaite descendants had no loyalty toward their ancestor's rituals. While such cases remain rare, they nonetheless represent a fascinating chapter in the ongoing struggles over personal status and marriage in Israel.



Chief Rabbi David Chayim Chelouche statements:
The Jerusalem Post: Laying down the (Oral) law By JOSHUA FREEMAN
Rabbi David Chayim Chelouche, the chief rabbi of Netanya, agrees. "A Karaite is a Jew," says Chelouche, who has written a great deal about the Karaites. "We accept them as Jews and every one of them who wishes to come back [to mainstream Judaism] we accept back. (There was once a question about whether Karaites needed to undergo a token circumcision in order to switch to rabbinic Judaism, but the rabbinate agrees today that it is not necessary.) He cautions, however, that the acceptance of Karaites as Jews should not be confused with acceptance of their practice of excluding the Oral Law. "A person cannot make his own Torah," he says.

"A person cannot make his own Torah," -- Funny, Karaites say the same thing...




Rabbinic Assembly
http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/sites/default/files/public/halakhah/teshuvot/20012004/49.pdf?phpMyAdmin=G0Is7ZE%2CH7O%2Ct%2CZ1sDHpI8UAVD6

Rabbi David H. Lincoln
This paper was adopted on March 28, 1984 by a vote of 12-1-1. Members voting in favor: Rabbis Kassel Abelson, Isidoro Aizenberg, Salamon Faber, David M Feldman, Morris Feldman, Robert Gordis, David H Lincoln, Mayer E Rabinowitz, Phillip Sigal, Israel N Silverman, Harry Z Sky and Henry A Sosland. Voting in opposition: Rabbi Morris M Shapiro. Abstaining: Rabbi Joel Roth.

CONCLUSION

In answer to Rabbi Skopitz's questions, I would therefore say the following:

(1) Their personal status should not be questioned. I would, with adequate halakhic support, dismiss the question of safek mamzerut.
(2) Yes, they are Jewish in every respect!
(3) I am not certain what is meant by the query regarding the State of Israel. In Israel, they have a separate Beit Din to administer marriage and divorce. Neither the Karaite nor the rabbinic communities have permitted "intermarriages". Rabbi Isaac Klein quotes sources indicating exceptions even in Israel, which he felt may portend a new trend there. Our situation in the Diaspora is very different. It has been the lesson of history that sects (whether Jewish or gentile) who leave their natural surroundings or are separated from the main body of followers, usually assimilate and disappear. This is true of the Druze outside of their Syrian-Lebanese-Israeli villages, or the Donmeh outside of Salonika or Istanbul. Here in the United States, Karaites mostly wish to identify with the rabbanite community -- in Israel they are a more numerous independent group. Should we abandon them, they would probably disappear and more Jews would be lost to us at a period in our history when we can ill afford such a loss.

I therefore recommend that we accept them without reservation.

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Posted by: Benjamin
Coming soon...



Yahoo Questions: Best Answer

"The older compilation is called the Jerusalem Talmud or the Talmud Yerushalmi. It was compiled sometime during the fourth century in Palestine. The Babylonian Talmud was compiled about the year 500 C.E., although it continued to be edited later"
-- Muhammed K

"They are 2 separate works, created respectively in Babylon and in the Holy Land by different people, so they are quite different in content, despite being commentary on the same Mishnah.
The one that is followed is the Babylonian talmud, that is considered the main book of authority for all diasporas, due to its thorough editing and the greater influence of the Babylonian wise men at that time."
-- Mama

Job Chapter 4
16 It stood still, but I could not discern the appearance thereof; a form was before mine eyes; I heard a still voice:
17 'Shall mortal man be just before God? Shall a man be pure before his Maker?
18 Behold, He putteth no trust in His servants, and His angels He chargeth with folly;
19 How much more them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed before the moth!
20 Betwixt morning and evening they are shattered; they perish for ever without any regarding it.
21 Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them? They die, and that without wisdom.'


Exodus Chapter 23
1 Thou shalt not utter a false report; put not thy hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.
2 Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou bear witness in a cause to turn aside after a multitude to pervert justice;
3 neither shalt thou favour a poor man in his cause.

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