Archive for the 'Citations' Category

Sitting out the Battle

July 23rd, 2006 by Yaakov Ellis

Rav Gil from Hirhurim gives some aliyah mussar based on current events and a verse in Parashat Matot.

He cites the verse:

ויאמר משה לבני גד ולבני ראובן: האחיכם יבאו למלחמה, ואתם תשבו פה

And Moshe said to the sons of Gad and the sons of Reuven: Will your brothers go to war and you will sit here?

Bamidbar 32:6

In context, Reuven and Gad were presuming to remain on the Eastern side of the Jordan River, sitting out the battles for the conquest of the Land of Israel. Rav Gil related this primarily to Yeshiva exemptions from the army in Israel, and secondarily to people who live in chutz l’aretz. I would reverse the order though – the passuk here is talking of people volunteering to remain outside of the land of Israel instead of joining the rest of the Jews in Israel in the Land of Israel during their wars. The direct parallel today seems to be Jews remaining in Chutz L’aretz.

The comparison to exemptions from Yeshiva may be valid, but you definitely have to read into the passuk a little bit more to get it.

(Cross-posted on Aliyah Blog)

Bil’am the Flying Sorcerer

July 23rd, 2006 by Yaakov Ellis

Josh Waxman from parshablog (the one that is actually updated on a frequent basis) posts on the midrashim that talk about Bil’am flying through the air using his sorcery during the war between Israel and Midyan in Parashat Ma’asei. (He included a second post on the subject as well).

The Conquests of Menashe

July 19th, 2006 by Yaakov Ellis

ADDeRabbi gives an interesting explanation regarding some difficulties with the sons of Menashe conquering the territory of Gilad.

Interestingly enough, the answer given in the end (from Rav Sa’adia Gaon) for the inconsistencies and questions raised is that the passage here in Bamidbar which talks about the Bnei Machir Ben Menashe conquering the area of Gilad is that this took place during the lifetime of Machir (the grandson of Yosef) while he was a general in the Egyptian army. This does answer all of the questions presented by ADDeRabbi, but I think that it raises some other points (that while they do not reject the answer, are still worth addressing):

  • Why is this recorded in Bamidbar? I know that this section is talking about the division of this land, but as is pointed out in the post, there is a different section in Devarim that deals with the conquering of (what seems to be) the same territory from Og. If this section (in our parasha) was referring back to the real Machir ben Menashe, then why does it say that Moshe gave the land “to Machir ben Menashe” (32:40) and not to “bnei Machir ben Menashe” as they are referred to in the previous verse.
  • Do we have any other records of people in Bnei Yisrael leaving Mitzrayim before Moshe, other than to bury Yaakov? The only other thing that I can think of is the incident when some members of Bnei Yisrael left 30 years before everyone else (coincident with the 400th anniversary of Brit bein haBetarim, thirty years before the birth of Yitzchak) only to be defeated (and presumably killed) when reaching Eretz Yisrael (since they left too early).

That aside (these questions are not too difficult to answer) – a very neat explanation for the pesukim.

The First FFB

November 30th, 2005 by Yaakov Ellis

ADDeRabbi protrays Yitzchak Avinu as the first Frum From Birth Jew.

He makes an interesting point about the difference between Yitzchak (FFB) and Rivka (comes from a non-Orthodox home). Chazal portray them as Tzaddik-ben-Tzaddik (Yitzchak, who was righteous was the son of Avraham who was also righteous) and Tzadik-bat-Rasha (Rivka, who was righteous was the daughter of the wicked Betu’el). It is for this reason that Yitzchak’s prayers are answered (and not Rivka’s). One might have thought that this is a pretty shvach reason for the prayers of one person to be “better” than the prayers of another. Don’t our prayers depend on who we are and our kavana, not on our yichus?

ADDeRabbi points out that “It’s no small matter for a person to become a ‘tzaddik ben tzaddik’.” This very process of becoming a tzaddik when one is expected to be one, and is always in the shadow of another tzaddik is very difficult.

…interior growth with no external manifestation is very, very, difficult to affect and engenders constant insecurity with one’s own religious state. The verb ‘to pray’, in Hebrew, is reflexive. Jewish tradition has understood prayer as a process of self-discovery and self-judgment. The prayer of a tzaddik ben tzaddik is indeed a potent prayer.

Thus, for Yitzchak to become an actual tzaddik was itself a journey of self-improvement, one that enabled him to end up on a higher level than his wife. It is not the mere fact that Yitzchak was a tzaddik-ben-tzaddik that enabled his prayers to be answered. It was what it had taken to reach that point.

When She Doesn’t Want to Make Aliyah

November 23rd, 2005 by Yaakov Ellis

Pinchas cites the Torah’s recommendations on what to do if the girl you want to go out with doesn’t want to make aliyah

Pluperfect Verbs

November 22nd, 2005 by Yaakov Ellis

Josh explains how one verb (יֹשֵׁב) can take on different meanings based on context and conjugation

Rashbam on the Akeida

November 20th, 2005 by Yaakov Ellis

ADDeRabbi posts a different take on the Akeida based on the commentary of the Rashbam.

The Sin of Sodom

November 18th, 2005 by Yaakov Ellis

ADDeRabbi posts about the real sin of the city of Sodom. He writes that the sin was primarily the motivations, rather than the actions, of the citizens of Sodom.

(However, most of the commentaries on the passuk do not go this far, but rather define the primary sins of Sodom as inappropriate sexual behavior and love of theft/robbery)

Rivka’s Age II

November 15th, 2005 by Yaakov Ellis

parshablog responds to DovBear’s post about Rivka’s age with different insights to the midrashim at the root of the issue, as well as a comment on midrashim in general.

A choice quote:

One thing I have seen is that people in general have an unsophisticated view of midrash. Midrash is a close reading of text, which picks up on fine points, details and nuances. It often serves a homiletic purpose, or emphasises/exaggerates features that are in the literal story itself. It is also an art form.

Those who take every midrash absolutely literally are missing the point. Those who try to harmonize competing midrashim are missing the point. Those who are upset at the midrash and rail against it because they think it improbable or against a literal reading are also missing the point.

Well put. Midrashim are not there to be quoted willy-nilly to make whatever proof the reader wants to make. Each midrash is coming to address one specific aspect of a character, story, theme, etc. Most are not meant to be taken literally. And all must be viewed and studied in context in order to make sense.

How Old was Rivka when she Married Yitzchak?

November 14th, 2005 by Yaakov Ellis

DovBear discusses how old Rivka really was when she married Yitzchak.

Hint: there are some opinions out there that say that Rivka was older than three years old. (Don’t forget the comments)