Beyond BT

Spiritual Growth for Jews

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 […]

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 […]

Jewish Spiritual Exceptionalism

When it comes to social media, they say that Facebook is for the people you used to know, Linked In is for the people you currently know, and Twitter is for the people you want to know. Facebook has served the “used to know” function for me and I have reconnected to many whom I […]

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 […]

The Way of G-d – A Quick Overview

A few weeks ago, I posted 12 Fundamental Spiritual Beliefs based on Rabbi Chaim Moshe Luzzato’s Derech Hashem. The context was, if I only had a few minutes and wanted to give an overview, what would I teach from Derech Hashem. I’ve refined them and created a graphic to help install these fundamental ideas into […]

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein on The Mistaken Rejection of Torah Leaders

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein in Darash Moshe comments on the mistakes of those who reject Torah leaders: Korach’s argument, the entire congregation — all of them — are holy, and why do you exalt yourself over the congregation of Hashem, is the basic argument of those who reject the Torah leaders and think that they know […]

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 […]

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 […]

It’s Never as Bad, or as Evil, as It Seems

How does Jewish sin differ from sin in general? Why do we read Parshas Parah only at this time of the year? I have recorded a homiletic interpretation … of R. Moshe Hadarshan … And have them take for you: … just as they took off their own golden earrings for the calf, so shall they […]

O Daddy … Where Art Thou?

Tzav-Parshas Zachor 5774-An installment in the series of adaptations 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 Remember what Amalek did to you on your way out of Egypt. When they encountered you [lit: cooled you off] […]

The Tefilla Gathering and Going Beyond Ultra

I went to the Tefilla Gathering on Sunday in the Wall Street area. It was a tremendous Kiddush Hashem as 40,000 Jews gathered peacefully to pray. The next day a friend emailed me this Voz Iz Neias link with my picture and the following caption: Ultra Orthodox men in downtown Manhattan protesting the plan to […]

And For an Offering … I Will Sacrifice My Soul

Vayikra 5774-An installment in the series of adaptations 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 Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: When a man will bring near, from [among] you,( meekem) a […]

There Are no Lightweights or Heavyweights … Only Half-Weights

Pikudei-Shekalim 5774-An installment in the series of adaptations 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 Everyone who is to be counted in the census must give a half-shekel according to the holy standard where a shekel […]

Turning Ourselves Upside Down and Inside Out

Ki Sisa 5774-An installment in the series of adaptations 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 Moshe turned away and began descending the mountain with the two Luchos HaEdus-Tablets of Testimony, in his hand. They were […]

Of Open-Book Enigmas and Whispered Secrets

Tetzaveh 5774-An installment in the series of adaptations 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 Make a  Choshen Mishpat-justice breastplate. It shall be of patterned brocade, like the ephod.  Make it out of gold; sky blue, dark […]

Derech Hashem One Page Overview

The Ramchal’s Derech Hashem is a must read classic for any Jew. I’ve created a one page table of contents of Derech Hashem, which you can download here. There are two translations available from Feldheim: Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s translation can be purchased from Feldheim or Amazon. Rabbi Abba Zvi Naiman’s translation and elucidation can be […]

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