Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Why isn't life after death discussed thoroughly in Torah? Part 1

Hi,

"Rabbeinu Hai said that it was not necessary to explain the matter of olam haba, for it was known by transmission."

(Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra to Devarim 32:39)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The authority of earlier generations, Part 2 of 2

Hi,

"In truth, the generation following the mishnah saw a shrinking of the hearts [=minds] compared to those of the authors of mishnah, and they knew with certainty that the truth would always be with those earlier authorities.

"Since they knew that in reality they would never grasp a truth which the tannaim [sages of the mishnah] had not grasped, they were not permitted to dispute. They only listened to all that their predecessors, the tannaim, had said.... This was not a kindness that they did for their predecessors; rather, truth mandated it."

(Rabbi Avraham Yeshayah Karelitz, Chazon Ish, Kovetz Inyanim 194-195)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Monday, December 29, 2014

The authority of earlier generations, Part 1 of 2

Hi,

Note:
For the purpose of this email, a tanna is a sage of the time of the mishnah (roughly 2nd century BCE - 3rd century CE), and an amora is a sage of the time of the gemara (roughly 3rd - 6th century CE).

"I asked this of my honoured mentor and master, Rabbi Chaim haLevi of Brisk, and he replied that in truth, an amora is empowered to disagree with a tanna.

"The fact that the Talmud challenges a statement of an amora because it seems to contradict a statemtent of a tanna is because amoraim simply do not disagree with tannaim, and if the amora had known the statement of the tanna, he would not have disputed it. However, where he disputes [a tanna's statement] explicitly, the law may follow him."

(Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman, Kovetz Shiurim to Bava Batra 633)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Whose opinion do we value?

Hi,

"[When Rabbi Eliezer was dying,] his students said to him: Our master, bless us!

"He said to them: May it be Gd's will that you are as intimidated by heaven as you are by flesh and blood.

"His students said to him: Is that it? [Meaning: Would that be the greatest level we could achieve?]

"He said to them: I wish [you would achieve that much]! You know this, for when a person sins he says, 'I hope people don't see me.'"

(Talmud, Berachot 28b)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Mitzvah 49: Vandalism

Hi,

By the count of Sefer haChinuch, the Torah's 49th mitzvah instructs us to set up courts to fine people who harm others, or who allow their property to harm others. In addition to paying restitution, the aggressors are sometimes required to pay more than the value of the damage they have caused.

Today, Jewish courts do not have independent authority to levy fines. However, earlier courts authorized their successors - down to our own day - to institute extrajudicial penalties for common cases or cases involving prevention of personal or communal loss. (For further insight and application, see Gittin 88b, Bava Kama 84b; Beit Yosef Even haEzer 11 כתבו , Beit Yosef Choshen Mishpat 1 ומסקינן ,ודוקא .)

Sefer haChinuch notes that our courts are not responsible to mete out Divinely perfect justice. Rather, they are commissioned to create laws of punishment so that civilized society will be able to function and flourish, without fear of aggression.

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The second day of Rosh HaShanah

Hi,

"Even people who live in Israel celebrate two days of Rosh HaShanah, for due to Gd's love for His nation, and due to His desire to judge them mercifully, He granted them the opportunity to establish an added day of judgment, on which they would be judged more gently."

[This is from a summation at the end of a long article, which includes various sources to support the author's contention regarding the difference between the judgments of the two days of Rosh haShanah.]

(Rabbi Moshe Shwerd, HaMaor 60:3 (2007))

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Popular acceptance of prophets, Part 2

Hi,

In response to yesterday's comments, by Rabbi Saadia Gaon and Rabbi Yehudah haLevi, about the general population's recognition and acceptance of true prophets:

"It is difficult to digest these words, in the face of the way Israel related to their prophets - as recorded in Tanach - such as to Yirmiyah and Yechezkel and the like."

(Rabbi Yosef Kapach, Kuzari 1:103, footnote 88)

חג אורים שמח,
Mordechai

Monday, December 22, 2014

Popular acceptance of prophets, Part 1

Hi,

"Every prophet selected by the Creator for His mission was given such an acts as a sign, whether controlling natural entities, like preventing fire from burning or preventing a river from flowing… And when such a sign was given to him, people who saw it were compelled to sanctify him and to believe that which he told them, for sages did not present signs such that they would be credible to people."

(Rabbi Saadia Gaon, Ha'Emunot v'haDeiot 3:5)

"Anyone the prophet encounters, when he meets him and hears his Divine words, has spirituality renewed with him, and he is separated from his own dross with a purity of spirit and a thirsting for those [spiritual] levels, and a cleaving to humility and purity."


(Rabbi Yehudah haLevi, Kuzari 1:103)

חג אורים שמח,
Mordechai

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Creating sanctity - spatial, temporal and personal

Hi,

"Via the Children of Israel's generosity of the heart with their wealth, the holiness of space, Mishkan and Mikdash [Temple], is constructed.

"And via generosity of their hearts with their lives, meaning the forces of the body's actions, holiness of time is constructed…

"And via generosity of one's heart "with all of your heart", meaning controlling the nature of one's heart, they merit holiness of the spirit…


"And so the holiness of Chanukah and Purim was constructed by special souls, and on those days the holiness of the spirit, the aspect of [sacred] time, shines forth."

(Rabbi Tzaddok haKohen of Lublin, Tzidkat haTzaddik 253)

חג אורים שמח,
Mordechai

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The meals of Chanukah

Hi,

Turning one's Chanukah meal into a "mitzvah meal" [seudat mitzvah]:

"We sing songs and praises at the special meals added for Chanukah, and so these meals become 'mitzvah meals'."

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 670:2)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Who benefits from a mitzvah?

Hi,

"The benefit of mitzvot is not for Gd, but for people themselves, to avert harm or bad belief or a bad trait, or to remember miracles and wonders of Gd and to know Gd."

(Ramban to Devarim 22:6)

חג אורים שמח,
Mordechai

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The mitzvah and its cause

Hi,

"Each general mitzvah must have a cause, and it is commanded for a particular benefit. However, its components are just commands. For example, regarding killing a living thing for good food, the benefit is as we will clarify, but the fact that it is performed via shechitah rather than nechirah, and severing the esophagus and windpipe in a particular spot, these and similar actions are to refine the creations...

"The mitzvah of bringing a korban provides great benefit, as I will explain, but having one korban as a lamb and one as a ram, and having designated numbers for each, one cannot present a cause for it at all. Anyone who would burden himself to give an explanation for these components would be, in my eyes, entering a lengthy lunacy, and would not remove the inscrutability but increase it. One who imagines that there is a reason is far from truth, like one who imagines that the entire mitzvah has no benefit."

(Rambam, Moreh haNevuchim 3:26)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Beit haMikdash and the Earth

Hi,

A fascinating mystical idea: The Beit haMikdash is designed to parallel features of our planet:

"For this reason they said that the Temple Mount was 500 by 500 [cubits], parallel to the world as a whole, which is 500 years' walk in width and length, 500 by 500. 

"And it is known that the world stands without support, suspended by the declaration of Gd, like Job 27, 'He suspends the world on nothing.' So they said that under the Temple Mount were domes upon domes, with hollow spaces below, like the world standing upon nothing."

(Rabbi Moshe Isserles, Torat haOlah 1:1)

Have a great day,
Mordechai


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Shabbat clothing

Hi

"It is written (Isaiah 58:13) regarding Shabbat, 'You shall honour it, refraining from performing ordinary tasks.' 'You shall honour it' indicates that your Shabbat clothing should not be like your weekday clothing. 

"This follows along the lines of Rabbi Yochanan's practice of calling his clothing, 'The source of my honour.'"

(Talmud, Shabbat 113a)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Alone with G-d

Hi,

"Hitbodedut is a great level, surpassing everything else. This means to set aside at least an hour every day to be alone in a room or a field and to speak with one’s Creator, explaining oneself, appeasing, and supplicating Him to bring oneself close to true divine service. And this prayer and discussion should be held in the vernacular, i.e. Yiddish… for it is hard for us to speak in Hebrew, which we are not used to… But in Yiddish, which we are accustomed to, it is easier to express oneself… One should express all that is in one’s heart before G-d: regret and teshuva regarding the past and supplications to draw close to G-d… It is important to practice this every day at an appointed time and the rest of the day is to be joyous. And this practice is very great and constitutes an excellent method for drawing close to G-d… for everyone can do this and in doing so one will reach a great level. Happy is he who follows this."

(Rabbi Nachman of Breslav, Likutei Moharan II 25, translated by Zvi Leshem, Tradition 47:3 (2014))

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Free healthcare?

Hi,

Preface: The Torah requires an assailant to pay for his victim's medical care. (Shemot 21:19)

"If the assailant says, 'I will bring you a doctor for nothing,' his victim is entitled to reply, 'A doctor who heals for nothing is worth nothing.'"

(Talmud, Bava Kama 85a)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Monday, December 8, 2014

Free education for all!

Hi,

"Rav Yehudah cited Rav: Devarim 4:5 says, 'See, I have taught you.' Just as I taught you for free, so you must teach for free."

(Talmud, Bechorot 29a)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The dangers of disowning

Hi,

"Shemuel said to Rav Yehudah: Sharp one, do not be among those who divert inheritance, even from a bad son to a good son; you don't know what sort of child may emerge from him."

(Talmud, Ketuvot 53a)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Should one leave money to his children? Part 2

Hi,

"Rav said to Rav Hemnuna: My son, if you possess something then it is good for you, for in she'ol there is no pleasure and death does not delay. And should you say, 'I will leave a portion for my son,' who will tell you [what happens to it] in she'ol?"

(Talmud, Eruvin 54a)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Should one leave money to his children?

Hi,

"When [Reish Lakish] died, he left behind a kav measure of saffron. He applied to himself [apparently negatively] Psalms 49:11, "'And they left their strength to others.'"

[Note: The kav is fairly small, but saffron was a valuable spice. I am not sure how to take this.]

(Talmud, Gittin 47a)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Property should stay in the family

Hi,

"Where one has instructed that his assets should be distributed 'in the best possible way', they should be given to his heirs; there could be nothing better."

(Rabbi Moshe Isserles, Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 282:1)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Monday, December 1, 2014

Misunderstanding sages of the past and present

Hi,

"The current generation, due to great weakness and laxity, cannot intellectually grasp the fact that one of the great authors could have made an intellectual error; they think that anything recorded in an old text cannot be questioned.

"They do not offer ideas other than to contradict their contemporaries, and regarding anything that emerges from the mouth of one [of their contemporaries], even if favour is poured upon his lips and his mouth produces gems, still, they say, 'Why is this man different from other men? We also have the language of scholarship, and a hand and name in study as he does.'"

(Rabbi Shlomo Luria, Introduction to Yam shel Shlomo on Masechet Gittin)

Have a good day,
Mordechai

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Israel's temperate climate

Hi,

"'Reuven, Shimon, Levi and Yehudah, Yissachar, Zevulun and Binyamin.' (Shemot 1:2-3)

"It mentioned the first six, who are sons of Leah, in the order of their birth, and it should have mentioned Binyamin last of all of the brothers, as the youngest. It mentioned him seventh because the lower world is divided into seven climates, and the seventh climate is the Land of Israel, the middle of the settled world, the point that is more balanced in cold and heat than other lands, because it is the middle, between the extremes. 

"Therefore Binyamin is listed seventh, to hint that the Beit haMikdash, in the seventh climate, is in Binyamin's portion.

"Even though the scholars who have ordered the climates have written in some of their works that the Land of Israel is in the fourth climate, it is all toward the same end. Since the land is the [central] point, with three climates on one side and three climates on the other, it is the fourth for each set of three, the middle, which is the seventh."

(Rabbeinu Bechaye to Shemot 1:2)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Thursday, November 27, 2014

War was unnecessary

Hi,

"Were it not for the sin of the Golden Calf, the inhabitants of the Land of Israel would have been reconciled with the People of Israel, for the name of Gd called upon them would have aroused awe. No war would have been necessary, and the [Divine] influence would have proceeded peacefully as in the Days of Messiah."

(Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, Orot mei'Ofel: HaMilchamah 4, Naor translation)

Have a good day,
Mordechai

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Only in Israel

Hi,

"A Jew cannot be devoted and faithful to his thoughts and ideas and imaginings outside Israel, as he can in Israel. Manifestations of sanctity, on every level, are purest in Israel."

(Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, Orot mei'Ofel 4)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Life Goals of Maimonides

Hi,

"One who follows a healthy lifestyle is not following a good path if his goal is only to have his body complete, and his children doing his work and supporting him. Rather, his goal should be to have a complete and strong body so his spirit will be straight, in order to know Gd. One cannot understand and examine wisdoms when he is hungry or ill or one of his limbs aches. And his goal should be that his children might become sages and leaders in Israel…"

(Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Deiot 3:3)

Have a great day,
Mordechai


Monday, November 24, 2014

In praise of silence

Hi,

"One should always practice great silence. He should speak only words of wisdom or words he needs for the sake of his existence. They said that Rav, student of Rabbeinu haKadosh, never spoke empty speech – and this is the speech of most people… Thus the sages instructed (Pirkei Avot 1:17), 'One who increases words introduces sin,' and 'I have found nothing better for a body than silence.'… (Avot d'Rabbi Natan I 22)"

(Rambam, Mishneh Torah Hilchot Deiot 2:4)

Have a good day,
Mordechai

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Question Yourself

Hi,

"Do not let your own lips shame you, do not let your own mouth disgrace you, do not let your own lips curse you, do not let your own teeth embarrass you, and do not bow to your own words. As Proverbs 6:2 says, 'You have stumbled in the declarations of your own mouth.'"

(Kallah Rabti 4:17)

Have a good day,
Mordechai

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Go to a spiritual healer...

Hi,

"Those who are physically ill taste the bitter as sweet and the sweet as bitter. Some ill people desire and long for inedible foods, like dust and charcoal, and despise good foods like bread and meat, all according to the particular illness. So, too, people whose spirits are ill desire and love bad traits, and despise the good path and are too lazy to follow it, and they find it very heavy, due to their illness… 

"They should go to sages who are healers of spirits, and they will heal their illness by teaching them good traits, until they bring them back to the good path…"

(Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Deiot 2:1)

המצפה לישועה,
Mordechai

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Risking the lives of soldiers to spare civilians on the other side

Hi,

Thoughts on war:

Rabbi Avraham Shapira, War and Ethics, Techumin 4, pg. 182:
When there is no substantive risk to our soldiers, there is no permission to strike lives or property. However, when there is a discernible risk, one must remember that it is not only a matter of weighing one unit opposite a civilian population on the scale. The loss of one unit, or part of it, can affect the entire battle…

Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, Ethics and War, Techumin 4, pg. 185:
The price [of war] is also paid by the enemy, who is also graced with the Divine image, and one should grieve whenever Gd's creations drown in the sea. On this point, the issue of quantity is meaningful, and one certainly must weigh the justifications for harming many in order to save an individual.

Hoping for better news,
Mordechai

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Amalek today?

Hi,

"If any people seeks to destroy us, we are commanded to do battle against it when it rises up against us, and this battle of ours is an obligatory war on the basis of the verse from Exodus (17:16), 'The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.'"

(Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, Fate and Destiny, footnote 25)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Monday, November 17, 2014

Taking the middle path

Hi,

"There are many traits in each human being; this one is different from that one, and extremely distant from him. Some are people of rage, always angry. Some have settled minds, never angry – and if they are ever angry, it is once in many years. Some are extremely arrogant, and some are extremely humble, and some are desirous, never satisfied from pursuing desire, and some are of very pure heart, not desiring even the little that the body needs. And some have a broad spirit, unsatisfied even with all of the world's wealth, like Ecclesiastes 5:9, 'One who loves silver will never have enough silver.' And some reduce their spirit, sufficing with even a little that isn't actually enough for them, and not pursuing all of their needs…

"Between each trait and its extreme opposite are intermediate traits, equidistant from each end. And in the set of all traits, some traits are congenital, per the nature of one's body, and some are traits toward which a person's nature is directed and which he will acquire more quickly than other traits, and some traits are lacking in a person from birth, but he learns them from others, or he turns himself to them independently due to a thought in his heart, or he hears that this is a good trait, worthy of following, and he habituates himself to it until it is established in his heart.


"The two extremes in each trait are not a good path; one should neither follow them nor teach them to himself. Should he find that his nature is inclined toward one of them or prepared for them, or he has already learned one of them and practiced it, he should bring himself back to the good and travel the path of the good, the straight path."

(Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Deiot 1:1-3)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Between Fire and Ice

Hi,

"This Torah is like two paths, one of fire and one of snow. One who inclines one way will die in fire, one who inclines the other way will die in snow. What should he do? He should walk in the middle."

(Talmud Yerushalmi, Chagigah 2:1)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Experience is the best teacher

Hi,

"Experience is a more honest witness than all of the theories founded upon proofs."

(Rabbi Moshe Sofer, Chatam Sofer Yoreh Deah 45)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Medicine must be tried and true

Hi,

"The sages said explicitly that medicinal treatments are not subject to [the prohibition against] 'Emorite ways', meaning that anything mandated by natural studies is permitted, and anything else is prohibited… 

"Do not be troubled by the sages' permission of a tzaluv's nail or a fox's tooth, for in their day they thought these were the result of experience, and were medical… Anything proven by experience may be practiced, even where logic does not dictate it."

(Rambam, Guide of the Perplexed 3:37)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Children suffering for the sins of their parents?

Hi,

A stark, intellectual view of the way the universe works:

"It is possible, without any impropriety, for chance to cause children to suffer punishment for parental sin; there is no impropriety (עוול) involved, at all. 

"If a person were to sin against the government and they would punish him justly, such that he would lose his wealth, this would cause punishment for his children, who would be paupers and would not inherit anything that they had been due to receive from their father's assets."

(Commentary of Ralbag to Yehoshua 7:1)

Have a good day,
Mordechai

Monday, November 10, 2014

One nation, One body

Hi,

Regarding Yehoshua 7, in which a man named Achan took from the consecrated property of the city of Jericho, and the entire nation suffered as a result:

"All Israel are bound together as one body, such that each individual will relate to the community as a limb of the body relates to the body. Just as illness or destruction of one limb causes illness or a defect in the entire body, so, too, when Achan took from the spoils it was considered as though the entire nation had trespassed."

(Commentary of Malbim to Yehoshua 7:1)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Peace first

Hi,

"We may not declare war upon any human being, anywhere, until we first sue for peace. This applies both to 'authorized wars' and 'obligatory wars,' as it is written, 'And when you come close to a city to fight against it, call to it for peace.' Should they make peace and accept the laws in which Noachides are instructed, we would not kill anyone there. We would collect taxes, as it is written, 'They will pay tribute to you, and they will serve you.'"

(Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 6:1)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Thursday, November 6, 2014

War is for enemies

Hi,

Devarim 23:10 begins, "When you go to war against your enemy". On this, a midrash (Sifri Devarim 190) comments, "You wage war against your enemies."

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains:
"The Torah establishes that you will battle only those who show themselves to be your enemy, from whose enmity you have suffered, and from whom you anticipate acts of enmity. Therefore, even should you attack them, you shall only defend yourself. This message rejects all wars of conquest."

(Commentary of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch to Devarim 23:10)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The human responsibility to pursue justice

Hi,

In the seventh chapter of Yehoshua, a Jew has sinned, harming the nation as a whole. Gd does not tell Yehoshua who has sinned; He leaves it for Yehoshua to figure it out. Why?

"The obligation of exposing evil is placed upon Yehoshua, not upon Gd. Although in this situation, had Gd spoken first, then bloodshed would have been avoided, Gd does not remove the responsibility of clarifying truth from Man, and Gd does not become a 'tale-bearer'. It is part of the 'Divine image' in Man, and part of the obligation placed upon him to clarify human falsehood. Until he does this, the price will be very high."

(Rabbi Yuval Sherlo, http://shut.moreshet.co.il/shut2.asp?id=73507)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

On prisoner exchanges, Part 2

Hi,

"Because they will go to war on a mission of the nation and for its sake, to defend the nation dwelling in Zion, there is an unwritten, understood obligation, that the nation will use every means at its disposal – within reasonable boundaries so as not to endanger national security – to redeem them, should they fall captive."

(Rabbi Shaul Yisraeli, Torah sheb'al Peh 17)

Have a good day,
Mordechai

Monday, November 3, 2014

On prisoner exchanges, Part 1

Hi,

"Before the eyes of the determining authority was an additional, important point: the morale of the soldiers of the IDF. When a soldier knows that should he fall captive, the entire State of Israel would stand behind him to free him, he will risk his life in battle without fear."

(Rabbi Chaim David haLevi, Aseh Lecha Rav 7:53)

Have a good day,
Mordechai

Sunday, November 2, 2014

First, do no harm

Hi,

"One is more obligated to be careful not to harm others than to protect himself from harm."

(Tosafot, Bava Kama 23a וליחייב (the second one))

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Collective responsibility

Hi,

In Joshua 7, the Jewish nation suffers military defeat, and it is blamed on the sin of an individual, Achan. Some commentators explain that collective responsibility is a natural function of the Jewish nation. For example:

"All Israel are bound together as one body, such that each individual will relate to the community as a limb of the body relates to the body. Just as illness or destruction of one limb causes illness or a defect in the entire body, so, too, when Achan took from the spoils it was considered as though the entire nation had trespassed..."
(Commentary of Malbim to Yehoshua 7:1)

"It is possible, without any impropriety, for chance to cause children to suffer punishment for parental sin; this will not involve impropriety at all. For example: If a person were to sin against the government and they would punish him justly, such that he would lose his wealth, this wwould cause punishment for his children, who would be paupers and would not inherit anything that they had been due to receive from their father's assets."
(Commentary of Ralbag to Yehoshua 7:1)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Take No Prisoners

Hi,

Deuteronomy 20:19 says: When you besiege a city for many days, fighting it to capture it, do not destroy its tree, to raise a hatchet upon it…

On this, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch commented:
"A midrash says: 'To capture it – not to destroy it.' Your goal should be only to subdue the city, not to enslave its residents as prisoners of war."

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What to look for in a neighbourhood

Hi,

"A city must possess ten things before a Torah scholar may live there: A doctor, a phlebotomist, a bathhouse, a latrine, a ready water supply, like a river or spring, a synagogue, a teacher of children, a scribe, tzedakah collectors, and a court that strikes and imprisons."

(Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Deiot 4:23)

[Compare with Sanhedrin 17b here.)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Monday, October 27, 2014

Responsibilities of Citizenship

Hi,

"One who dwells in a land for thirty days is compelled to give tzedakah to the kupah with the citizenry. One who dwells there for three months is compelled to give to the tamchui. One who dwells there for six months is compelled to give clothing for the local needy. One who dwells there for nine months is compelled to give tzedakah for burial."

(Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Laws of Gifts to the Needy 9:12)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The City of Jericho

Hi,

Why did Joshua declare that no one should rebuild the Canaanite city of Jericho (Joshua, Chapter 6)? Here are two rather different ideas:

Rambam, Moreh haNevuchim 3:50 -
"Yehoshua declared cherem upon one who would rebuild Jericho, ever, so that the miracle would endure. One who would see the wall sunken into the ground would perceive that this is not the way of a ruined building, but rather that the wall had sunk miraculously."

Commentary of Don Isaac Abarbanel to Joshua, Chapter 6 -
"I would suggest that Gd instructed him... and it is included in the statement [in Chapter 5, regarding Jericho], 'The place where you stand is holy,' so that the place be should be cherem, with everything in it."

Have a great day,
Mordechai