Beyond BT

Spiritual Growth for Jews

Skepticism — the Beginning of True Faith

Why do the episodes of the war with Amalek and Yisro’s arrival serve as lead-ins to the revelation at Sinai and the Decalogue? Is it better to be shrewd or gullible? Is there any room for skepticism in the hearts and minds of believers in the 13 Articles of Faith? And [thus] Yehoshua weakened Amalek […]

Of Fanatical Humility and Impetuous Self-Confidence

Why were there some who hoarded the manna? What turned Wormy before it even spoiled? Why did Yisro arrive right after the disaster at Rephidim? Moshe said to them, “let no man leave any [mann-manna;] over until morning.”But they did not listen to Moshe, some men left some over until morning and it became maggoty […]

Deep Into Darkness Peering, See the Light of the Intermediary Disappearing

This weeks installment is dedicated l’iluy nishmas Gitel Leah a”h  bas Menachem Mendel Hy”d, Mrs. Lidia Schwartz nee’ Zunschein whose yuhrzeit is this week. Did the plague of darkness cross the boundaries of Goshen? Why is the plague of darkness the only one in which the Torah reveals that the opposite was happening to the Israelites? Moshe […]

In Prayer; the Medium IS the Message

Pharaoh asked Moshe to pray to end the plagues in a particular way. Why didn’t he? Various plagues were wrought by HaShem, Moshe and Ahron.  Why was barad, in particular, brought about by Moshe? “Try and test me” Moshe replied. “At precisely what time shall I pray אעתיר for you, your servants and your people … […]

Righteous Indignation—the Root of Prayer and Salvation

Shemos-An installment in the series From the Waters of the Shiloah: Plumbing the Depths of the Izhbitzer School For series introduction CLICK By Rabbi Dovid Schwartz-Mara D’Asra Cong Sfard of Midwood Blessed is Elokim, who has not removed my prayer, or His loving-kindness from me. -Tehillim 66:20 The Izhbitzer taught that before the Divine Will […]

Forbidden Kiruv

Why didn’t Yaakov simply pass Esav by instead of engaging him? Why did Yaakov send Angels to his brothers rather than humans? Yaakov sent representatives ahead of him to his brother, Esav, to Edom’s Field toward the land of Seir. — Bereishis 32:4 The representatives returned to Yaakov and told him: “We came to your […]

When Opposites Attract

Why did Avraham consider Eliezer to be cursed if Lavan referred to him as “the blessed of HaShem”? If the cursed cannot bond with the blessed how are we to understand the unions of Shechem and Dinah, the Queen of Shevah and Shlomo the King et al? Why didn’t Eliezer seek a girl who would […]

Only G-d Can Make an Identity

What is the true definition of Identity? Why does the Midrash call the second blessing of the Amidah “HaShems blessing”?  as though the others are not. I believe with complete faith that the Resurrection of the Dead will occur at the time when the Creator wills it …  — 13th Article of Faith per Maimonides […]

The Deluge of Youth

What do mankinds greatest and worst generations have to do with one another? “The Fountain of Youth” … why has mankind been searching for it from time immemorial? And HaShem said: “My Spirit shall not keep on judging man forever, for he is nothing but flesh.  His days will be a hundred and twenty years.” […]

I’m Happy … Feeling like a Room without a Glass Roof

Is Judaism a meritocracy or an aristocracy? Why do we dwell in our Sukkos on Shabbos but do not fulfill the mitzvah of Lulav on Shabbos? Why is a stolen Lulav invalid for performing the mitzvah when one does fulfill the mitzvah of Sukkah in anothers Sukkah? [The nation of] Israel was crowned with three crown: […]

Defeating Self-Defeat

Why do people constantly sabotage themselves? How does the scapegoat atone for the sins of Uza and Azael? And Ahron [the Kohen Gadol-high priest] should place two lots on the two goats; one [marked] for HaShem and the other [marked] for Azazel — Vayikra 16:8 And Ahron should press his two hands on the live […]

Beyond the Heads and Tails of the Sabbatical Year

Is the flip side of Rosh Hashanah the old year, meaning the outgoing year or, is the flip side of Rosh Hashanah the year’s tail, meaning the end of the upcoming year? At the end of every seven year cycle, at an appointed time of the Year of Letting-Go, on the festival of Sukkos. When […]

The Cry of the Decaying Kernel

Why does Mikra Bikurim-the declaration accompanying the bringing of the first fruits/produce begin with a review of the Egyptian exile and exodus? In particular, why is there an emphasis on the population explosion during the Egyptian exile? Why do these pesukim-verses; serve as the opening of the maggid section of Pesach evening Haggadah-telling? Is there […]

Strike the First Blow and the Fix is In

Why is the war mentioned at the beginning of Ki Seitzei offensive while the one mentioned in Behaaloscha defensive? Why is victory guaranteed in the war mentioned at the beginning of Ki Seitzei ?  And when war will come in your land against the tormenter that puts pressure on you, you shall sound a staccato […]

Drowning on Dry Land

Why are so many segulos ineffective? In particular why doesn’t fulfilling the Mitzvah of tzitzis transform us into spiritual supermen, as promised by the Torah? These shall be your fringes and when you look at them, you’ll remember all the commandments of HaShem, and do them; and will not [continue to] go astray [following] after […]

An Ambidextrous Theology

Why is the Sotah’s case adjudicated through trial by watery potion? Why do kohanim put their hands together when bestowing the priestly blessing? He [the kohen] will then make the [suspected adulteress] woman drink the bitter curse-bearing waters and they will begin to take effect. ~BeMidbar 5:24 Speak to Ahron and his sons, saying: This is how […]

Is Torah Everything … OR is Everything Torah II

Why is the Zodiac sign of the month of Sivan the twins? Why are we often frustrated by failure despite having put forth our very best efforts? Conversely, why does unanticipated success sometimes come our way, relatively effortlessly? … Similarly the Holy One, blessed be He, say to [the Children of] Israel: ‘My children! I […]

Time, Space and Soul

What is so awful about charging interest? After all it is the lubricant that greases the gears of commerce universally. Why must even nirtza slaves, those who chose to stay on with their masters when they had the chance to become free, be liberated on the Jubilee year? When where and why is it permissible […]

Beauty may be Skin-Deep but Some Hideousness is to the Bone

Today, 29 Adar Sheini is the yuhrzeit-anniversarry of the death of the great Polish Chassidic Master Reb Shloimeleh Rabinowicz; zy”a, the first Radomsker Rebbe, as well as other tzadikim and talmidei chachamim-Torah sages. The following Devar Torah is adapted from his work on the Torah and Holidays, Tiferes Shlomo, and is dedicated l’iluy nishmas –for […]

So Bad That it MUST be Good

A SPECIAL REQUEST: Please do not begin reading this devar Torah unless you intend to learn it thoroughly and reach the disclaimer at the very end. To do otherwise could prove hazardous to your spiritual development and health. How can it be that a small spreading of the white nega-tzara’as rash causes ritual impurity but […]

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