Friday, October 12, 2018

No New Dvar Torah this Week

Due to technical difficulties, there is no new Dvar Torah this week. Please click here to enjoy last year's Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Noach. We will return, b'ezrat Hashem, next week, with a brand new Dvar Torah.

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

No New Dvar Torah this Week

Due to the short week following Yom Kippur, there is no new Dvar Torah this week for Parshas Haazinu. Please click here to enjoy a previous year's Dvar Torah on this week's parsha. We will return, B'ezrat Hashem, next week with a new Dvar Torah.

Shabbat Shalom!

For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email is at AIMeMtorah@gmail.com.

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Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

Check out our other AIMeMTorah project, Nation's Wisdom!



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Friday, September 14, 2018

Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Vayeilech


       Parshas Vayeilech contains the last few moments of Moshe’s time as the leader of Bnei Yisrael. While he still has to give last words of guidance and bless to the nation, this week’s parsha is where we begin to see his authority removed. But this did not stop him one bit, as the parsha begins, “וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ משֶׁ֑ה“And Moshe went” (Devarim 31:1). Where did he go? He went to accomplish, he went to teach and guide, he went to help his people as much as he could.
       The end of the parsha contains a pasuk that, while famous, is perhaps overlooked in its true significance. It illustrates that even when he was no longer the complete leader of Bnei Yisrael, Moshe was still an important figure; this includes nowadays as well. “וַיְהִ֣י | כְּכַלּ֣וֹת משֶׁ֗ה לִכְתֹּ֛ב אֶת־דִּבְרֵ֥י הַתּוֹרָֽה־הַזֹּ֖את עַל־סֵ֑פֶר עַ֖ד תֻּמָּֽם“And it was, when Moshe finished writing the words of this Torah in a scroll, until their very completion.” (ibid: 24). The pesukim following this one write that Moshe told the Leviim to take the completed Torah scroll and place it by the Aron, to remain there eternally as a testimony to its truth.
       Interestingly, if you look earlier in the parsha, in Pasuk 9, there’s a similar idea taking place. “וַיִּכְתֹּ֣ב משֶׁה֘ אֶת־הַתּוֹרָ֣ה הַזֹּאת֒ וַיִּתְּנָ֗הּ אֶל־הַכֹּֽהֲנִים֙ בְּנֵ֣י לֵוִ֔י“Then Moshe wrote this Torah, and gave it to the Kohanim, the sons of Levi.” What is the difference between this earlier Torah that was given to the Kohanim and the Torah in Pasuk 24? The Ramban points out a distinction in the pesukim that shows the major difference between them. Pasuk 24 ends with the phrase “עַ֖ד תֻּמָּֽם”, “until their completion”; pasuk 9 makes no mention of any completion. The Ramban explains the significance behind this difference. The mitzvos had been (almost) entirely given over by pasuk 9, therefore, Moshe wrote over a copy of the Torah to be used, probably as a master teaching guide. However, he didn’t tell the Kohanim to place it anywhere specific, like he did with the Torah from pasuk 24, since it was not intended to be a testimony. Why not? Because it wasn’t finished yet.
       There was still another section of the Torah that had to be written. “וַיִּכְתֹּ֥ב משֶׁ֛ה אֶת־הַשִּׁירָ֥ה הַזֹּ֖את בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֑וּא“And Moshe wrote this song on that day” (ibid: 22). These last few parshiyos make up this song, and even though they may not contain mitzvos (actually, pasuk 19 in Parshas Vayeilech is considered the final mitzvah in the Torah, the commandment to write a Sefer Torah), they are still part of the Torah. Pasuk 24 is Moshe writing a fully completed Sefer Torah. At this point, the Torah portion of the Written Torah was closed, sealed, nothing more could be added to it. Finally, it was ready to be used as testimony; hence, it was deposited by the Aron.
       While it’s cool to see exactly when the Torah became the Torah, there is another point to be made here concerning Moshe Rabbeinu. Moshe is the greatest leader in our history. After leading the Bnei Yisrael for all those years, this parsha shows us he was still committed to bringing out the best in every person, even after he was no longer the official leader. Perhaps that is why his title historically is not as our leader, but our rebbi; our master, teacher, and guide. One of the final acts Moshe did in his lifetime was putting the final stamp on the written Torah. A book written entirely under the auspices of Hashem Himself, something which can never be edited, changed, or discarded. The most important historical, law, and spiritual document we have today. Finished and sealed with the approval of Hashem, by Moshe Rabbeinu.

Shabbat Shalom!


Click here for a previous year's Dvar Torah for Parshas Vayeilech

Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts)


For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email is at AIMeMtorah@gmail.com.

Please Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: @aimemtorah

Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

Check out our other AIMeMTorah project, Nation's Wisdom!



AIMeM

Friday, September 7, 2018

Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Nitzavim


       Midrash can be one of the most enjoyable ways to study the parsha. Its combination of stories, parables and Jewish wisdom are easily given over and understood by people of all ages. The difficulty of learning Midrash is understanding where it comes from. While our knowledge of the information contained in Midrash is ultimately the result of it being passed down through the generations, the stories don’t appear in the text; the lessons seem unconnected to the verses from which they are deduced.  How are Chazal able to deconstruct pesukim in order to know all of this information?
       There is an example in this week’s parsha which helps explain how the meforshim work, how different commentaries read the pesukim in order to arrive at their explanations. The pasuk says, “וְלֹא אִתְּכֶם לְבַדְּכֶם אָנֹכִי כֹּרֵת אֶת הַבְּרִית הַזֹּאת וְאֶת הָאָלָה הַזֹּאת. כִּי אֶת אֲשֶׁר יֶשְׁנוֹ פֹּה עִמָּנוּ עֹמֵד הַיּוֹם לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ וְאֵת אֲשֶׁר אֵינֶנּוּ פֹּה עִמָּנוּ הַיּוֹם“Not only with you am I making this covenant and this oath, but with those standing here with us today before Hashem, our God, and also with those who are not here with us, this day.” (Devarim 29:13-14). The pasuk seems to indicate that this oath Hashem made with Bnei Yisrael was not just placed on the ones alive at that time, but even those who had not yet been born! Millennia of Jews were subject to a deal they had no part in. Many commentaries question how this was even possible!
       The Midrash offers an answer; Hashem brought the souls of every Jew, including those who had never been born, to be present at this oath. While this would certainly solve the issue, how do we see this in the pesukim? The first half of pasuk 14, when describing those present, says, “with those standing here with us”. The second half, describing those who aren’t present, writes, “also with those who are not here with us”. How come the second half doesn’t describe the people as “not standing”, the opposite of the first half? The Kli Yakar explains that this is the point in the pasuk from which the Midrash learns out the well-known tradition of all Jews being eternally beholden to the covenant with Hashem. The people being referred to in the second half of the pasuk are not standing because they cannot stand. They don’t have a physical form at this point in time; they are unborn and still in their spiritual form known as a soul.
       There are other words in the pasuk and subsequent pesukim that solidify this point even further, but the point has already been made. Midrashim don’t come out of nowhere; they have a solid tradition of being passed down through the generations, the same way all of world history has been passed down. The only difference is we also have proofs to each story and piece of wisdom, buried in the words of the Torah. The ultimate book of wisdom containing the secrets of the universe has our tradition just waiting for us to uncover its mysteries.
Shabbat Shalom!  


Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts)


For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email is at AIMeMtorah@gmail.com.

Please Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: @aimemtorah

Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

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AIMeM

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Ki Savo


       This week’s parsha, Parshas Ki Savo, continues Moshe’s farewell address to the Bnei Yisrael. As part of a further acceptance of the Torah, the Bnei Yisrael are told of the advantages and responsibilities of keeping the Torah. To represent this, Moshe splits the nation in half and has each stand on a different mountain. One half stands on Har Grizim and accepts the blessings of the Torah, while the second stands on Har Eival and accepts the curses. The final curse of Har Eival has an interesting word choice which the commentaries examine.
       אָר֗וּר אֲשֶׁ֧ר לֹֽא־יָקִ֛ים אֶת־דִּבְרֵ֥י הַתּוֹרָֽה־הַזֹּ֖את לַֽעֲשׂ֣וֹת אוֹתָ֑ם“Cursed be he who does not uphold the word of this Torah, to fulfill them” (Devarim 27:26). The word in question is “יָקִ֛ים” “uphold”; what is this meant by needing to ‘uphold’ the Torah? It sounds different than simply performing the mitzvos, but why wouldn’t the Torah focus on someone who is not keeping it?  The Ramban gives several different answers to this question, each with a different perspective.
       His first answer is perhaps the most profound. The Torah is not telling you that you will be cursed if you don’t do a mitzvah properly; there is a potential punishment for not doing a mitzvah, but that is not what is being referred to here. Instead, the Torah is focusing on your broader beliefs. Do you believe the Torah is true and from God, do you believe He rewards and punishes based on your actions, do you accept that refusal of either of these is the denial of God? In other words, do you affirm to uphold the Torah; not to perform the individual laws, but in the more basic sense of what the entire Torah represents!    
       As we approach the Yomim Noraim and work on doing Teshuvah, it’s important to keep this idea in mind. It’s not good when we make mistakes, but mistakes will happen and we need to fix them. More importantly, we need to think of our motivation behind our mistakes; are we keeping the bigger picture in perspective. What is our level of emunah? That is the big picture, perhaps even the main idea, we need to work on going into the new year. By reaffirming our belief in Hashem and how He runs the world, we can also help ourselves get rid of those mistakes, and  go back to performing every mitzvah that comes our way promptly and enthusiastically.  

Shabbat Shalom!


Click here for last year's Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Ki Savo

Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts)

For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email is at AIMeMtorah@gmail.com.

Please Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: @aimemtorah

Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

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AIMeM

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Shoftim (Celebrating 9 years of AIMeMTorah!)


       This week's marks the beginning of the 9th year of AIMeMTorah. Thank you to all our subscribers and readers for your continued support, we look forward to sharing divrei Torah with you many more years to come.

       Perhaps the most central theme of Parshas Shoftim is the responsibilities and authorities of the leaders and guides of Bnei Yisrael. This position would develop over time, beginning with a single authority in Moshe Rabbeinu, morphing into prophets and Shoftim, and eventually splitting into a Beis Din responsible for determining and deciding all matters related to Torah law, and a king responsible for enforcing the law and day-to-day needs of the nation. During the time that Moshe was leading the nation and they could observe his direct pipeline to Hashem, it was easier to accept his authority and believe he was giving over the correct message. However, as we moved away from Moshe, and the leaders’ connection with Hashem became more hidden, it became necessary for the Torah to establish the authority of the nation’s future leaders.
       A clear example of this is found in Perek 17 Pasuk 11, “עַל־פִּ֨י הַתּוֹרָ֜ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר יוֹר֗וּךָ וְעַל־הַמִּשְׁפָּ֛ט אֲשֶׁר־יֹֽאמְר֥וּ לְךָ֖ תַּֽעֲשֶׂ֑ה לֹ֣א תָס֗וּר מִן־הַדָּבָ֛ר אֲשֶׁר־יַגִּ֥ידוּ לְךָ֖ יָמִ֥ין וּשְׂמֹֽאל“According to the teaching that they will teach you and according to the judgment that they will say to you, shall you do; you shall not turn from the word that they will tell you, right or left.” Rashi comments on the usage of the phrase “right or left”, that even if they tell you left is right and right is left, you must listen to them. The Ramban expands on this that even if you believe the opposite of what Beis Din determines is the halacha, even to the point where it seems as obvious to you as the difference between right and left, you must trust and support their decision.
       This same concept is seen later on in the parsha in perhaps an unexpected location. The Torah warns us, “לֹ֤א תַסִּיג֙ גְּב֣וּל רֵֽעֲךָ֔ אֲשֶׁ֥ר גָּֽבְל֖וּ רִֽאשֹׁנִ֑ים בְּנַֽחֲלָֽתְךָ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר תִּנְחַ֔ל בָּאָ֕רֶץ אֲשֶׁר֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לְךָ֖ לְרִשְׁתָּֽהּ“You shall not move back the boundary of your fellow, which the early ones marked out …in the land that Hashem, your God, gives you to possess it.” (19:14). As we saw earlier in the Torah, portions of Eretz Yisrael were divided out to each shevet based on a careful determination of what each tribe required. While Hashem was the one who determined these portions, the pasuk attributes it to the “early ones”, which the Ramban explains refers to Elazar the son of Aharon and his successor as Kohen Gadol, and Yehoshua bin Nun, the successor to Moshe, along with the heads of each individual tribe. Why are they given credit for acting on Hashem’s direct orders? In order to make the same point as before.
       The Written Torah is in many ways incomplete. There are many examples of laws found in the Torah with little detail to how they are supposed to be done. As a result, it is up to our Torah experts to determine the true meaning of the Torah and how we are supposed to practice. However, explains the Ramban, it’s impossible for everyone to come to the same conclusions when dealing with vagueness and ambiguity. Without trusting the authorities, the Torah would break down very quickly into several different versions. Therefore, the Torah itself teaches us that we must trust in our leaders.
       Even if an individual might have clearer logic, greater intelligence, or perhaps even better intentions, it makes no difference. As leaders of the Jewish people, they have been blessed with guidance from Hashem to the point where even though they may not be on the same level of greatness as Moshe, in our eyes we must afford them the same amount of respect.

Shabbat Shalom!


Thank you to everyone who participated in this year's SOS program. The program has now ended for the Summer. Stay tuned for next year's!


Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts)

For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email is at AIMeMtorah@gmail.com.

Please Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: @aimemtorah

Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

Check out our other AIMeMTorah project, Nation's Wisdom!



AIMeM

Friday, June 29, 2018

Dvar Torah for Parshas Balak


       After seeing how easily the Bnei Yisrael defeated the powerful armies of Sichon and Og, Balak, the king of Moav, hired Bilaam, the magician and prophet, to use his powers to curse the nation. In this way, Balak hoped to weaken the Jewish people before their inevitable conflict. The pesukim detail how he sent messengers to recruit Bilaam who initially refused to come since Hashem had not allowed him. Balak doubles down by promising Bilaam even more wealth and honors if he’ll come. Bilaam, filled with a desire to go, waits to see if Hashem will change His mind. Hashem gives him a puzzling response.
       “וַיָּבֹ֨א אֱלֹהִ֥ים | אֶל־בִּלְעָם֘ לַ֒יְלָה֒ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ל֗וֹ אִם־לִקְרֹ֤א לְךָ֙ בָּ֣אוּ הָֽאֲנָשִׁ֔ים ק֖וּם לֵ֣ךְ אִתָּ֑ם וְאַ֗ךְ אֶת־הַדָּבָ֛ר אֲשֶׁר־אֲדַבֵּ֥ר אֵלֶ֖יךָ אֹת֥וֹ תַֽעֲשֶֽׂה” “And Hashem came to Bilaam at night and said to him, ‘If these men have come to call for you, arise and go with them, but the word I speak to you- that you should do” (Bamidbar 22:20). The Ohr HaChaim points out several perplexing items in this pasuk. First, why is Hashem seemingly in doubt as to the purpose of these visitors? Of course He knows why they’re there! Secondly, why would Hashem ever allow Bilaam to go and even attempt to curse the Jewish People? Lastly, why did Hashem change His mind from earlier when He told Bilaam not to go? What changed in the meantime?
       He explains that Hashem wanted to make sure there would be no doubts as to the fact that Bilaam would, and why he would, fail. If He would have let Bilaam go right away, people would have thought that Bilaam had control over his actions, that the reason he failed was because he decided not to curse the Jews; as opposed to the reality that Hashem didn’t let him. If He wouldn’t have let Bilaam go at all, people would have thought that Hashem couldn’t control Bilaam and wanted to make sure he didn’t get a chance to curse the Jews. Therefore, He solved both these issues by at first refusing, and then consenting to Bilaam’s going.
       The Ohr HaChaim gives a second, fascinating answer. Hashem gives all of His creations the opportunity to collect their reward; it’s up to the creations to take it. We are told later on (31:8) that Bilaam was killed in the battle with Midian. Chazal teach us that the reason Bilaam was there at all was to collect his reward for his services. (While Bilaam failed to curse the Jews, he did entice them to sin with the daughters of Midian; see Perek 25.) This entire episode would eventually lead to his death. Therefore, Hashem tells him not to go! He gives Bilaam the opportunity to save his own life; but Bilaam doesn’t see this, he’s too blinded by his hatred for Bnei Yisrael. And while Hashem wants only what is best for each and every human being, He also allows man to go in the path he chooses for himself, even if it leads to sin. (See Makkos 10b which explains how this famous principle is derived from this story.)
       So when Bilaam returns to ask Hashem a second time, Hashem allows him to go. Not because He changed His mind, but because He’s fulfilled His obligation to do good, and will now allow the free-will of man to take hold. When Hashem seems confused as to why these men are visiting Bilaam, He is actually asking Bilaam if he is interested in what these men are offering. He’s telling Bilaam, ‘Don’t you understand? This evil act will eventually lead to your downfall!” But once He sees that’s what Bilaam wants, He lets him go, thereby allowing that most amazing of opportunities, the free-will of human beings.

Shabbat Shalom!


Click here for last year's Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Balak

Click here to join the 'Summer of Subscribers'!

There is no Podcast this week.




For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email us at AIMeMTorah@gmail.com.

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Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.

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Check out our other AIMeMTorah project, Nation's Wisdom!



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