Tuesday, February 13, 2007
This year, Parshas Shekalim coincides with Mishpatim, and illustrates the point that though, as we will read in Parshas Teruma, for the initial building of the Mishkan, it took the repetitive, commanded donation of the half shekel each year to maintain the Mishkan and later the Mikdash. The high felt by the people in the initial building was unsustainable and it required commandment to insure the long-term involvement in even in so central an institution to our religious live.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
We are soon presented with another list, this of creatures we are permitted to eat and others which we are not. Again, there is much midrash as to why a cow might be permitted and a pig not or why a locust might be permitted but a lobster not. In the end, though, we can only say that the list is a hoq—a law of Hashem with no clear explanation for its origin.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
The tradition also prescribes meticulousness in speech. As an example, we have the extensive, detailed instructions about the care we take in reciting the Sh'ma in the Talmud (BT Brachos 15). One of my acquaintances once said, we are so careful so that someone who over-hears us will getr it right. I would submit that Someone always hears our recitation. We always stand before the Kadosh baruch hu in our recitation. It is a sign of our love and respect for Him that we recite with care.
It says in Avos (3:1). Akavya ben Mahalalel said: Reflect upon three things and you will not come to sin. Know from where you came and where you are going and before whom you are destined to give account and reckoning. From where have you come?--from a putrid drop. Where are you going?--to the place of dust, worm, and maggot. Before whom are you destined to give account and reckoning?--before the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be he. ( http://www.pirkeiavos.org/) .
Thursday, March 02, 2006
The aron is built by taking a box of shittim wood and casing it outside and in with gold to provide a proper place for the lukkot inscribed by the finger of G-d. Is this not also the way of the Jew? We take our base material world and our bodies and by making a place for G-d, transform our interior life and our relationship the world to glittering gold.