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 […]

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 … […]

The Ethics of “What’s in it For Me?”

Why was Yehudahs approach to saving Yoseph so different from that of Reuvens? Why do the sages condemn those who find merit in Yehudahs tactics? Reuven heard these words [the brothers’ plot to murder Yoseph] and tried to rescue him saying “Let’s not kill him.” And he said to them “Don’t commit bloodshed … “ […]

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 […]

Nothing is Perfect Until it’s Incomplete

Why did Avram seek advice before proceeding with milah-circumcision? Why did some of his closest friends and disciples oppose his undergoing milah? HaShem appeared to him [Avram] in the Plains of Mamre while he was sitting at the opening of the tent as the day[‘s heat] blazed. — Bereishis 18:1 Why did HaShem appear to […]

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.” […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Holiness of “Going like a Sheep”

Vayechi 5774-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 The Elokim before whom my fathers , Avraham and Yitzchak, walked is the Elokim who has led me like a Shepherd from my […]

Dreaming but Not Sleeping

Vayeshev 5774-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  Soon thereafter the Egyptian king’s wine steward and the baker offended their master, who was the king of Egypt. -Bereshis 40:1  [Regarding] this […]

Addition by Subtraction

Vayishlach 5774-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   Yaakov remained alone, and a man wrestled with him until just before daybreak. -Bereshis 32:25 He had forgotten small flasks and [unwilling to […]

Working Smarter — After Working Hardest

VaYetzai 5774-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 She (Leah) was pregnant once again, and bore a son. She said: “This time let me express gratitude to HaShem.” She named the […]

Of Angels and Men

VaYera 5774-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  And he [Avraham] lifted his eyes and saw, three strange men standing near him -Bereshis 18:2 The three “men” were angels -Rashi ibid […]

Under the Black Hat: A Bar Mitzva Celebration

There was a bar mitzva in shul a few weeks ago. As is the custom, upon hearing the bar mitzva boy’s blessing over the Torah, the girls in shul, leaning over the mechitza, rifled – more like uzi-machine-gunned – toffees towards the bima. ‘Ouch’! – a little sister’s revenge – a strawberry toffee right in […]

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