Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

Search
Parashas
Topics
Search
Terumah, 5784

ויקחו לי תרומה

And let them take for Me a portion. (25:2)

Chazal (Midrash Rabbah Shemos 33:1) expound on the pasuk’s expression, V’yikchu Li, “They shall take for Me.” The Midrash compares the Torah to a good acquisition (mekach) of which people are unaware of its value. When they consider how much the buyer paid the broker, however, they realize the value of the purchase. Likewise, how does one determine the true value of the Torah which we received? We look at the payment made to Moshe Rabbeinu: the skin of his face becoming otherworldly radiant. The Midrash further expounds, discussing an acquisition during which the seller sells himself along with the…

Read More
Terumah, 5784

ועצי שיטים

And shittim (acacia) wood. (25:5)

Rashi quotes Midrash Tanchuma that Yaakov Avinu’s foresight (through Ruach HaKodesh, Divine Inspiration) was the reason that Klal Yisrael had shittim wood available for the Mishkan. Yaakov knew that his descendants would one day erect a Sanctuary in the wilderness. This edifice would require wood. Therefore, he planted trees when he arrived in Egypt, using seeds that he had brought with him from Eretz Yisrael. He commanded his sons (who obviously commanded it to their sons) that, when they would finally leave Egypt, they should cut down the trees and take them along. Horav Eliyahu Meir Bloch, zl, derives a…

Read More
Terumah, 5784

ואל הארון תתן את העדת אשר אתן אליך

And into the Aron you shall put the Testimony that I shall give you. (25:21)

This pasuk (21) seems redundant. In pasuk 16, the Torah writes, “You shall place in the Aron the Testimonial Tablets that I shall give you.” Two pesukim – same message. Rashi explains that we derive from this redundancy that it was prohibited to place the Kapores, Cover, on the Aron unless the Luchos were already in there. There is no such thing as an empty Aron in the Sanctuary. If there are no Luchos, the Aron is incomplete; hence, no Kapores is placed over it. Chezkuni explains that the first pasuk refers to the first Luchos, while the second pasuk…

Read More
Mishpatim, 5784

ואלא המשפטים אשר תשים לפניהם

And these are the ordinances that you shall place before them. (21:1)

Parashas Mishpatim is replete with laws concerning interpersonal, social interactions – some positive (how we should act); others negative (how we should not act and the repercussions for acting inappropriately). On the surface, nothing about these mitzvos/laws appears to make them endemic solely to the Jewish people. Any decent, humane society would be expected to maintain such laws. What makes them “Jewish”? Horav Moshe Eisemann, Shlita, cites the Malbim (commentary to Devarim 6:20), who alludes to this question. He posits that this question lies at the root of the ben chacham’s, wise son’s, question in the Haggadah. Rav Eisemann explains:…

Read More
Mishpatim, 5784

ונקרב בעל הבית אל האלקים אם לא שלח ידו במלאכת רעהו

(If the thief is not found) then the householder shall approach the court that he had not laid his hand on his fellow’s property. (22:7)

The householder here is not the baal habayis, owner, of the lost/stolen articles, but rather, the shomer, unpaid watchman/custodian who claims that he is not responsible for the item that is missing. It is not his fault. He must come to bais din, court (which is here termed elokim) and swear that he has not laid his hand on his fellow’s property. In a homiletic rendering of the pasuk, Horav Meir, zl, m’Premishlan, explains: One who seeks to come close to Elokim, Hashem, must first be completely innocent of any sins concerning his fellowman. The Torah places a strong emphasis…

Read More
Mishpatim, 5784

אם ענה תענה אתו כי אם צעק יצעק אלי שמע אשמע צעקתו

If you [dare to] cause him pain! For if he shall cry out to Me, I shall surely hear his outcry. (22:22)

Causing pain to someone who is already suffering the pangs of loneliness is ethically and morally indefensible. It is such a heinous act that one is stymied to justify such behavior. As human beings, we possess the capacity for empathy and compassion. When we ignore the feelings of others and deliberately cause them pain, it contradicts the basic foundation of our humanity. In other words, such an aggriever is not a mentch, decent human being. Hashem says that He will listen to the cries of the afflicted. Clearly causing pain is reprehensible under all circumstances. It is especially cruel when…

Read More
Mishpatim, 5784

אם ענה תענה אתו כי אם צעק יצעק אלי שמע אשמע צעקתו

If you [dare to] cause him pain! For if he shall cry out to Me, I shall surely hear his outcry. (22:22)

Horav Shimshon Pincus, zl, derives an important principle concerning tefillah and its efficacy. When a person is confronted with adversity of any kind, he runs from person to person, doctor to doctor, brachah to brachah. In addition, “he also” prays to Hashem. Regardless of the circumstances – financial, health, family – the observant Jew makes a point to cover all the bases – even praying to Hashem. After all, one must make hishtadlus, endeavor. When a poor person goes from house to house begging for alms and, included among the many houses that he visits is the wealthiest man in…

Read More
Yisro, 5784

בחדש השלישי לצאת בני ישראת מארץ מצרים... באו מדבר סיני

In the third month from the exodus of Bnei Yisrael from the land of Egypt… they arrived at the wilderness of Sinai. (19:1)

Chazal (Midrash) ask why Hashem did not give the Torah to the Jewish People immediately upon their departure from Egypt. Why was it necessary to wait seven weeks for this seminal event to take place? They cite a parable comparing the Jewish people to a young prince who had been ill and was weakened from his illness. Once he had recuperated, his father said, “I will allow him to rest for a while to recoup his strength, and then I will send him back to cheder.” Klal Yisrael left Egypt flawed by the spiritual blemishes to which they had become…

Read More
Yisro, 5784

זכור את יום השבת לקדשו

Remember the Shabbos day to sanctify it. (20:8)

Two central themes characterize the observance of Shabbos. It is an expression of our belief that Hashem created the world in six days, which implies the existence of the Creator. We also observe Shabbos in remembrance of Hashem’s kindness in liberating us from the bondage of Egypt. The Egyptians made labor on Shabbos mandatory. The Midrash teaches that the Egyptians forced the Jews to work on Shabbos and transgress all thirty-nine melachos, labors, that are prohibited on Shabbos. The Arizal teaches that the thirty-nine labors correspond to the thirty-nine curses which were the result of Adam’s eating from the Eitz…

Read More
Yisro, 5784

כבד את אביך ואת אמך

Honor your father and your mother. (20:12)

The imperative to honor one’s parents is etched on the same Tablets as the belief in Hashem and the admonishments prohibiting murder and immoral relations. It is a special mitzvah which defines, not only our relationship with our parents, but our relationship with Hashem as well. One who does not see the need to honor parents will not see the need to honor Hashem. The mitzvah has nothing to do with gratitude, because we received it in the wilderness at a time in which parents did not provide for their children’s needs. Hashem did. [It has not changed. Hashem is…

Read More
Beshalach, 5784

ד' ימלך לעולם ועד

Hashem shall reign for all eternity. (15:18)

Horav Aryeh Leib Heyman, zl, observes that, from Adam HaRishon to Noach and on to the Avos, Patriarchs and the Shevatim, Tribes, never does the Torah use the term melech, king. The first time we “meet” Hashem as Melech is at the end of Shiras HaYam, when Bnei Yisrael declare: Hashem Yimloch l’olam va’ed, “Hashem shall reign for all eternity.” An unwritten rule is that the first time a term appears in Tanach, it becomes the source that defines that term. We see this idea in a number of places. Chazal (Berachos 7b), “From the time of Creation until Avraham…

Read More
Beshalach, 5784

למען אנסנו

So that I can test them. (16:4)

A prospective teacher usually prepares and gives a sample class in order to showcase his/her style and abilities, so that the employer can discern whether the teacher is a good fit for the class and the school. This is especially important if the school caters to students from diverse backgrounds, difficult family situations, and emotional and physical learning disabilities. The teacher’s ability to engage and motivate the students, generate their interest in the subject and build their trust are his greatest assets. In such a daunting situation the teacher’s skill is crucial. In addition, his ability to tolerate behavior which…

Read More
Beshalach, 5784

כי מחה אמחה את זכר עמלק מתחת השמים

That I shall surely erase the memory of Amalek from under the heavens. (17:14)

The most powerful tool against the yetzer hora, evil-inclination, is pride. When one maintains a sense of pride, when one believes in himself, the yetzer hora will have great difficulty in undermining his self-esteem. While on the surface this may seem counterintuitive to the middah, character trait, of humility, it is anything but. A truly humble person is well aware of who he is and of what he is capable of achieving. He just does not allow it to go to his head. He has been blessed with specific talents as part of his mission on this world. He is…

Read More
Beshalach, 5784

כי יד על כס קה מלחמה לד' עם בעמלק מדר דר

For a hand is raised on the Throne of Hashem an eternal battle of G-d with Amalek from generation to generation. (17:16)

The last pasuk in this parshah underscores the eternal battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. Hashem will not rest until Amalek is eradicated along with its physical and spiritual successors. Wherein lay the evil that Amalek wrought against us? Indeed, in the end of Parashas Ki Seitzei (Devarim 25:18), the Torah exhorts us to remember what Amalek did to us. The immediate question that glares at us upon reading this pasuk is: What did Amalek really do to us? He attacked us and was wiped out by Yehoshua and the Jewish army. For all intents…

Read More
Bo, 5784

ולמען תספר באזני בנך

And so that you may relate in the ears of your son. (10:2)

One of the mysteries that plague the commentators is the fact that the two sons of Moshe Rabbeinu were not in Egypt during the demonstration of the miracles and wonders associated with the Exodus. They did not see Krias Yam Suf, the Splitting of the Red Sea. All of Klal Yisrael observed the final end of 210 years of slavery, as their oppressors experienced a fitting end to their domination of the Jews. Two sons, not just ordinary sons, but the two children of the man of the hour, who became the Rabban Shel Kol Yisrael and its quintessential leader….

Read More
Bo, 5784

ויצא מעם פרעה בחרי אף

And he left Pharaoh’s presence in a burning anger. (11:9)

Moshe Rabbeinu finally became angry with Pharaoh, whose irrational, egotistical obstinacy was endangering his entire country. Pharaoh was playing games with Moshe. First, no; then, yes; then, who will go? Finally, when Pharaoh told Moshe not to return unless he despaired for his life, Moshe replied, “I will no longer see your face.” Despite Moshe’s justified anger, he still spoke respectfully to Pharaoh. Indeed, he told Pharaoh that, at the next plague, it will be his slaves who will be coming to him, pleading for an end to the plague. In the end, it was Pharaoh, accompanied by his slaves,…

Read More
Bo, 5784

קדש לי כל בכור פטר כל רחם

Sanctify for Me every first born, the first issue of every womb. (13:2)

Chazal (Kiddushin 29b) derive from here that the term b’chor, firstborn, applies only to the firstborn of the mother. A firstborn who is the first for the father, but not the mother, does not become consecrated b’kedushas bechorah, the sanctity of the firstborn. We wonder why this is so? The bechorim are sanctified due to the miracle concerning their salvation when all the heathen firstborn of Egypt were slain. The Jewish firstborn were spared. Regarding the Egyptian firstborn, no distinction was made whether it was the father’s or mother’s firstborn – they all died. Indeed, if no firstborn was in…

Read More
Bo, 5784

והיה לך לאות על ידך

And it should be for you a sign on your arm. (13:9)

Horav Aryeh Levin, zl, the Tzaddik of Yerushalayim, reached out to Jews of all backgrounds and religious persuasions. He made it a point to visit the prisons run by the British and also visit those with contagious diseases, such as leprosy. Indeed, he was one of the few who did this. Certainly, no one of his exalted stature carried out such exalted acts of chesed. During the British Mandate, political prisoners – such as the young, Jewish freedom fighters – were sentenced to the gallows by the British courts. The shadow of death was hardly ever overruled by a pardon….

Read More
Vaeira, 5784

והוצאתי אתכם מתחת סבלת מצרים והצלתי אתכם מעבדתם

And I shall take you out from under the burdens of Egypt; I shall rescue you from their service. (6:6)

V’hitzalti eschem mei’avodosam, “And I will rescue you from their service” means that the Jewish people will no longer be slaves to the Egyptians. No longer slaves? Throughout our tumultuous history, we have been subjugated to the most demeaning and brutal forms of slavery – and then murdered. Horav Chaim Keller, zl, wonders how our people, who were treated worse than animals by the Nazi murderers, were able to recite, She’lo asani eved, “That He did not make me a slave.” If that was not slavery – what is? In a shmuess, ethical discourse (Peninei Daas), Horav Eliyahu Meir Bloch,…

Read More
Vaeira, 5784

ויקח עמרם את יוכבד דדתו לו לאשה

And Amram took his aunt Yocheved as a wife. (6:20)

As a rule, the Torah does not mention the names of women unless they play an integral role in the narrative. It is, therefore, out of context that the Torah mentions Yocheved – despite the fact that she was the progenitress of the three great leaders of Klal Yisrael: Moshe Rabbeinu, Aharon HaKohen and Miriam HaNeviah. Horav Aryeh Leib Heyman, zl, delves into Yocheved’s background, her name, her personal achievements and her distinction vis-à-vis Klal Yisrael’s destiny. He suggests that her father, Levi, gave her the name Yocheved because he felt greater personal guilt for selling Yosef than the other…

Read More
Vaeira, 5784

ויאמר ד' אל משה אמר אל אהרן נטה את מטך והך את עפר הארץ והיה לכנם

Hashem said to Moshe, “Say to Aharon, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the land, it shall become lice.’” (8:12)

Rashi explains that, like the plague of blood and frogs, Moshe could not catalyze this plague. Just as the water had protected him as an infant, the dust of the land protected him when he used it to conceal the Egyptian that he had killed. To smite the earth would have been an act of ingratitude on his part. This begs elucidation. The water saved Moshe – end of story. His basket was placed in the water and remained there until Bisyah, Pharaoh’s daughter, discovered it. The dust of the earth’s protection was short-lived, since it did not successfully hide…

Read More
Vaeira, 5784

הנני ממטיר כעת מחר ברד כבד מאד... ועתה שלח העז את מקנך ואת כל אשר לך בשדה ...הירא את דבר ד'... הנים את עבדו ואת מקנהו אל הבתים

Behold, at this time tomorrow I shall rain a very heavy hail… And now send, gather in your livestock and everything that you have in the field…. Whoever among the servants of Pharaoh feared the word of Hashem chased his servants and livestock into the house. (9:18,19,20)

Egypt is a country where rain is rare and hail is virtually a climate phenomenon that does not occur. Thus, the plague of barad, hail, was unusual in that it would be a first for Egypt. Moshe’s warning was unique, in that he told Pharaoh the exact time at which the plague would commence and warned him to inform his slaves to take cover in order to protect themselves and their property. The Torah commends those Egyptians who listened, referring to them as G-d-fearing. The plague of barad and the entire format of its descent onto the land of Egypt…

Read More
5784, Shemos

ותיראן המילדות את האלקים ולא עשו כאשר דבר אליהן מלך מצרים

But the midwives feared Hashem, and they did not do as the king of Egypt spoke to them. (1:17)

Leadership has its challenges, and, unless one is strong and persistent, he will fail. Humility should be intrinsic to every leader’s character. When one assumes that he is infallible, he is unaware of his tragic flaw. One who is aware of his faults, who understands his imperfections, will work on them, seeking every avenue to correct his shortcomings. Nonetheless, a position of leadership demands tremendous self-confidence. In some instances, humility comes into play, especially when the leader feels inadequate for the position. Sometimes, one is compelled to adopt a role for which he may not feel entirely suited. This may…

Read More
5784, Shemos

ויפן כה וכה... ויך את המצרי ויטמנהו בחול

He turned this way and that… so he struck the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. (2:12)

Moshe Rabbeinu felt that this Egyptian had perpetrated a grave injustice. As such, he took the initiative and punished him. Shortly after the passing of the Chazon Ish, who was the preeminent Torah giant of his generation, Horav Eliyahu Meir Bloch, zl, Rosh Yeshivas Telshe, was maspid, eulogized him, in Cleveland. Sadly, only a small group of lay people attended the Rosh Yeshivah’s hesped. Rav Eliyahu Meir felt strongly and took umbrage over the fact that they chose not to pay their respects to the memory of the gadol hador. He felt this was a chillul Hashem, desecration of Hashem’s…

Read More
5784, Shemos

ויאמר כי אהיה עמך וזה לך האות כי אנכי שלחתיך

And He said, “For I shall be with you, and this is your sign that I have sent you.” (3:12)

Moshe Rabbeinu claimed that he was unworthy to lead the Jews out of Egypt. Hashem countered that he was worthy of great things. He gave him a sign. What was that sign? The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh explains that Hashem intimated, “You ask what is the sign? The mere fact, Ki Anochi shilachticha, that I have sent you, is your greatest sign. For had you not have been worthy, I would not have sent you! So what room do you have for the concern regarding your worthiness?” Horav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Shlita, applies the words of the Ohr HaChaim to assuage the…

Read More

ויקחו לי תרומה

And let them take for Me a portion. (25:2)

Chazal (Midrash Rabbah Shemos 33:1) expound on the pasuk’s expression, V’yikchu Li, “They shall take for Me.” The Midrash compares the Torah to a good acquisition (mekach) of which people are unaware of its value. When they consider how much the buyer paid the broker, however, they realize the value of the purchase. Likewise, how does one determine the true value of the Torah which we received? We look at the payment made to Moshe Rabbeinu: the skin of his face becoming otherworldly radiant. The Midrash further expounds, discussing an acquisition during which the seller sells himself along with the…

Continue Reading

ועצי שיטים

And shittim (acacia) wood. (25:5)

Rashi quotes Midrash Tanchuma that Yaakov Avinu’s foresight (through Ruach HaKodesh, Divine Inspiration) was the reason that Klal Yisrael had shittim wood available for the Mishkan. Yaakov knew that his descendants would one day erect a Sanctuary in the wilderness. This edifice would require wood. Therefore, he planted trees when he arrived in Egypt, using seeds that he had brought with him from Eretz Yisrael. He commanded his sons (who obviously commanded it to their sons) that, when they would finally leave Egypt, they should cut down the trees and take them along. Horav Eliyahu Meir Bloch, zl, derives a…

Continue Reading

ואל הארון תתן את העדת אשר אתן אליך

And into the Aron you shall put the Testimony that I shall give you. (25:21)

This pasuk (21) seems redundant. In pasuk 16, the Torah writes, “You shall place in the Aron the Testimonial Tablets that I shall give you.” Two pesukim – same message. Rashi explains that we derive from this redundancy that it was prohibited to place the Kapores, Cover, on the Aron unless the Luchos were already in there. There is no such thing as an empty Aron in the Sanctuary. If there are no Luchos, the Aron is incomplete; hence, no Kapores is placed over it. Chezkuni explains that the first pasuk refers to the first Luchos, while the second pasuk…

Continue Reading

ואלא המשפטים אשר תשים לפניהם

And these are the ordinances that you shall place before them. (21:1)

Parashas Mishpatim is replete with laws concerning interpersonal, social interactions – some positive (how we should act); others negative (how we should not act and the repercussions for acting inappropriately). On the surface, nothing about these mitzvos/laws appears to make them endemic solely to the Jewish people. Any decent, humane society would be expected to maintain such laws. What makes them “Jewish”? Horav Moshe Eisemann, Shlita, cites the Malbim (commentary to Devarim 6:20), who alludes to this question. He posits that this question lies at the root of the ben chacham’s, wise son’s, question in the Haggadah. Rav Eisemann explains:…

Continue Reading

ונקרב בעל הבית אל האלקים אם לא שלח ידו במלאכת רעהו

(If the thief is not found) then the householder shall approach the court that he had not laid his hand on his fellow’s property. (22:7)

The householder here is not the baal habayis, owner, of the lost/stolen articles, but rather, the shomer, unpaid watchman/custodian who claims that he is not responsible for the item that is missing. It is not his fault. He must come to bais din, court (which is here termed elokim) and swear that he has not laid his hand on his fellow’s property. In a homiletic rendering of the pasuk, Horav Meir, zl, m’Premishlan, explains: One who seeks to come close to Elokim, Hashem, must first be completely innocent of any sins concerning his fellowman. The Torah places a strong emphasis…

Continue Reading

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

You have Successfully Subscribed!