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Torah: The Birthright of Every Jew

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 2/28/2007 11:58 AM

“And they shall fashion an Ark of cedar wood, two and a half cubits its length, one and a half cubits it width and one and a half cubits its height.” 25:10

  • The construction of the Ark preceded that of all the other utensils of the Tabernacle because the Torah is preeminent among all the services a Jew must perform for G-d. This is similar to the creation of light prior to all other creations during the Six Days of Creation, as the Torah is compared to light. - Medrash Rabbah 34:2
  • Regarding all of the utensils of the Tabenacle it is written, “V’assisah” [and you shall fashion in the singular form] and regarding the Ark it is written, “V’assu” [and you shall fashion in the plural] This teaches us that G-d intended that every single individual partake in the construction of the Ark so that they may all have a share of the Torah that it represe ...

The Purity of the Leaders

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 2/26/2007 3:54 PM

“Now you shall command the Children of Israel and have them bring you pure olive oil, pressed for lighting, to keep the lamp burning constantly.” 27:20

o       Pressed - He would crush the olives in a mortar and not grind them in a mill so that it would not contain sediment. After extracting the first droplet, he would put them into a mill and grind them. This second oil is unfit for the menorah but may be used for meal offerings for it states: "p ...


The Root of it All

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 2/22/2007 3:29 PM

“You shall make seven lamps [for the menorah]; and its lamps shall be lit so that they shine toward it [the center lamp].” 25:37

  • The three flames on the right side symbolize intellectual thoughts and ideas, whereas those on the left symbolize material pursuits. All of them must always draw their inspiration and be guided by the Torah, symbolized by the central light. – Sforno
Judaism rejects any notion of a distinct separation between the boardroom and the synagogue, because there isn’t a single facet of life that isn’t unequivocally directed by the Torah’s teachings. What transpires in the boardroom must conform to the dictates of the Torah, and no amount of praying or studying can mitigate that obligation. When employed as a holistic guide to life, the Torah en ...

Here, There, and Everywhere

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 2/21/2007 5:31 PM

The poles must remain in the Ark's rings; they must not be removed from it.” 25:15

  • The perpetual presence of the poles symbolized that the Torah must be portable and not tied to any one place. Whenever, and wherever the people would go, the Ark would accompany them, as it is always ready to be transported. – Rav Samson R. Hirsch

As a people who were destined to wander the globe, it was imperative that the Jewish people recognize that the Torah must always accompany them on their journeys. Their remarkable success at maintaining their allegiance to the foundations of Judaism, in spite of the difficult exiles endured, is directly attributable to the centrality accorded to Torah in Jewish communities across the globe. The continuation of this success can only be assured if the Torah remains the mainstay of ...


The Potential To Be Leaders

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 2/20/2007 12:22 PM

“’You shall be to me a kingdom of ministers and a holy nation,’ these are the words that you shall speak to the Jewish people” 19:6

  • A kingdom of ministers - Leaders – Rashi
  • A kingdom of ministers – You shall be to Me, My special portion [dedicated to serving Me in this world] – Rabbeinu Bachya
  • Had the Jewish people been meritorious, they could have each been Kohen Gadol. This elevated status will be restored to them in the End of Days. – Baal HaTurim

Our decision to assume the weighty moral responsibilities of the Torah endowed us all with the potential to be exceedingly great. How firmly we would adhere to the strictures of the Torah would determine our success at attaining this lofty goal. The poten ...


An Eye For An Eye

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 2/20/2007 12:20 PM

“An eye in place of an eye, a tooth in place of a tooth, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot.” 21:24

  • An eye in place of an eye – One who causes the loss of an eye must compensate him for the worth of his eye. For instance, if he were sold as a servant he would be worth less with only one eye than with two eyes. The one who inflicted the wound must compensate him the difference. This is true of all of the cases mentioned in the pasuk; the intent is not the severance of the actual limb, as our sages have explained in Masechteh Bava Kama 84b. – Rashi
  • He must compensate him the monetary value of the eye… -Rashbam
  • The reason the Torah expresses the punishment as if it expected the literal removal of the eye, is because that would be his fitting punishment measure for measure. Our tradition however, tea ...
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    Know And Understand

    Rabbi Elazar Meisels 2/13/2007 2:27 PM

    “And these are the statutes that you shall place before them” 21:1

  • That you shall place before them – “Hashem said to Moshe, ‘Don’t think that you can simply teach the law to them three or four times until they’re familiar with it, without being bothered to teach them how to understand it.’ Therefore it says, ‘that you shall place before them,’ like a table that is set and prepared for a person to partake of.’” – Rashi
  • This was the first time the people would be hearing these Halachos, some of which would be logical and some of which would defy human reason. Hashem did not want Moshe to merely instruct us how to act, but also to explain to us how this code of law would benefit us to the utmost. Although comprehension of the rationale for mitzvos at the deepest levels often eludes us, and must not be prerequisite for their observance, there is much t ...


    Salvation and Punishment Presented Simultaneously

    Rabbi Elazar Meisels 2/6/2007 12:29 PM

    “On that day, Hashem rescued Israel from the hand of Egypt and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. The Israelites saw the great power that Hashem had unleashed against Egypt, and the people were in awe of God and they had faith in Hashem and in his servant Moses.” 14:30-31

    • And Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore - because the sea expelled the Egyptians onto its shore, so that Israel would not say: ‘Just as we are coming up from this side so, too, they’re coming up from the other side, at a distance from us, and they will still pursue us.’ – Rashi
    • And they had faith in Hashem and Moshe – Although they’d previously believed in Hashem, from the start of Moshe’s mission, their belief was now strengthened and they r ...

    Refusing To Remove The Blinders

    Rabbi Elazar Meisels 2/2/2007 10:31 AM

    “Hashem said to Moshe, 'Stretch your hand over the sea. The waters will come back over the Egyptians, covering their chariot and cavalry.' Toward morning, Moshe extended his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal condition. The waters came back and covered the cavalry and chariots. Of all Pharaoh's army that had followed [the Jews] into the sea, not a single one remained.” 14:26-28

    One would have expected that the plagues would have sufficiently convinced the Egyptians to recognize that their cause was a lost one and Hashem was on our side. When even that failed, one would have imagined that watching the entire Jewish nation traverse the Sea of Reeds as the waters parted before them, would have caused them to abandon ship. Once again however, the Egyptians stubbornly refused to reach the inevitable conclusion that Hashem controls the world. Their wickedness surpassed only by their foolishness, they plunged headl ...


    Down But Never Out

    Rabbi Elazar Meisels 2/1/2007 12:48 PM

    “Hashem said to Moshe and Aaron in the land of Egypt. This month shall be for you the beginning of the months. It shall be the first month of the year.” 12:2-3

    • This [i.e. the obligation to proclaim the new month] is the very first Mitzvah that Hashem commanded the Jewish people through Moshe. Therefore it says, “in the land of Egypt” as opposed to the other commandments, which were commanded on Sinai. - Ramban
    The mitzvah to proclaim the new month contains many deep symbolisms. On a simple level however, it points to the matchless ability of the Jewish people to rise up from oblivion and restore itself to past greatness. Just as the moon fades away at the end of each month only to restore itself to its former greatness, so too, the Jewish people will rise up again no matter how many times they fall. History is replete with stark examples of this p ...

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