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Torah Thought

 WSSS Torah Thought Archives



It says in the beginning of Parshat Chayyei Sarah, ויהיו חיי שרה מאה שנה ועשרים שנה ושבע שנים - Sarah was 100 and 20 and 7 years. Rashi says this means she was a 100 year old who was like she was 20. What does this mean? There are advantages to being old wise and calm and young, energetic and youthful. Sarah was both wise when she was young and young even when she grew old


In the well-known discussion in the Talmud, a potential convert approaches Hillel and says, "I will convert on condition that you teach me the whole Torah on one foot," to which Hillel responds, "What is hateful to you do not do unto others, that is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary. Now go and study."


This story teaches us about the primacy of ethics in Judaism. This is an important message in a world where many parents, even committed Jews,  take more pride in their children's intellectual and cultural achievements rather than their level of kindness and goodness of character. (Excerpted from Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, A Code of Jewish Ethics)



The Torah tells us that Avraham was getting old and therefore chose to look for a wife for Yitzchak. However, the Torah does not communicate this in the normal fashion -  that Avraham lived many years, rather it says ואברהם זקן בא בימים - he had lived many days. The reason the Torah conveys this idea this way is because Avraham made the most of every single day in his life and therefore the Torah counts his life in individual days and not years. Let’s make the most of today. Let’s make today count!



Rav Baruch of Mezhbez writes the following about levels of humility - ענוה in a person. Avraham was very humble as he said to hashem, אנכי עפר ואפר - “I am but dust and ashes.” Moshe and Aharon were also very humble as they said, “ואנחנו מה” - “We are but nothing”. King David was humble as well as demonstrated when he said, “אנכי תולעת ולא איש” - I am but a worm and not a man.” But there is an even higher level of humility. What is that? to not say anything at all. To choose silence.

Is there any point in our day when choosing silence and not saying anything might be the most authentic display of ענוה?



Can one outsource a mitzvot to others? While it is true that one can appoint an agent (שליח) to perform some mitzvot, the Gemara Kiddushin 41a teaches us מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו – it is better to perform a mitzvah on one’s own. This is especially true with regards to preparing for Shabbat as the gemara teaches that even great rabbis such as Rav used to salt the fish and Rav Safra used to singe the head of the animal. Their personal involvement was לכבוד שבת. As we prepare for Shabbat, let’s try to keep in mind, no matter how pressured we feel today on this short Friday, that the preparation itself is part of the mitzvah of keeping Shabbat.

שבת שלום ומבורך!



A quote by the Jewish Philosopher, Abraham Joshua Heschel,  about Hashem’s existence in the world.

“God is not a hypothesis derived from logical assumptions, but an immediate insight, self-evident as light. He is not something to be sought in the darkness with the light of reason. He is the light.”



Yitzchak’s life appears to be a mirror-image of Avraham’s in Parshat Toldot. Yitzchak even digs the very same wells that Avraham dug after being covered up by the Philistines - וַיְסַתְּמוּם פְּלִשְׁתִּים.

Rav Adin Steinsaltz explains the meaning of Yitzchak’s life in spiritual terms. There are many people who are closed up (סתום) to religious inspiration whether out of cynicism, negativity, or just sheer boredom. Nothing moves them. In contrast, Yitzchak redigs the same wells of Avraham in search of water. We must constantly strive to find new inspiration in the daily routines of Jewish life. Thus we must dig the same wells, but with a renewed energy and vigor, as if it is the very first time.

!תזכו למצוות והתחדשות רוחנית


Why do דם many people not get what they want in life?

According to the Gemara Sotah 9a, when we try to grasp at what we can’t have, we lose what we do have. We end up with nothing. The wife who is found guilty for cheating on her husband forfeits both relationships:

"שכל הנותן עיניו במה שאינו שלו, מה שמבקש - אין נותנין לו, ומה שבידו - נוטלין הימנו"

“Whoever sets his eyes on that which is not his is not granted what he seeks and what he possesses is taken from him”.

Other Tanakh characters who fall prey to the same vice are Kayin, Korach, Haman, and snake in Gan Eden.

Let’s appreciate what we have today!

יהי רצון שנשמח בחלקינו!


Is it possible to see but still be blind?

According to Rav Nachman of Breslov, we may physically see with our eyes, but we interpret what we see with our minds (and souls). If our souls are closed, we will not see what is right in front of us. He writes metaphorically in the name of Baal Shem Tov:

"אוי ואבוי כי העולם מלא מאורות וסודות נפלאים ונוראים, והיד הקטנה עומדת בפני העינים, ומעכבת מלראות אורות גדולים" (ליקוטי מוהר"ן א:קלג)

“The world is filled with great light and hidden wondrous miracles, but one finger blocking the eyes can prevent one from seeing this great light”

Let’s open our eyes today to see what is beyond the surface!






Fri, September 21 2018 12 Tishrei 5779