Parshat Hashavua

Summary of the Parshiyot

You can read the summary of each parsha here:

Summary of Each Parsha

There is a d'var torah written by me on each parsha here:
Sedley Torah

Here is my translation of a section of Tosefet Bracha

Rav Tzadok on Cheshvan

Today's shiur at Midreshet Rachel was on Rav Tzadok's overview of the month of Cheshvan. Rav Tzadok begins with a cryptic statement from the Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Rimanov. He brings midrashim that show that the generation of the flood could have been worthy of receiving the Torah if they would have done teshuva. He also explains the Gemara in Rosh Hashana that says that the Jewish sages count from the flood like Rabbi Eliezer.

This shiur is a great way to begin a new z'man. Inspiration for Cheshvan.

You can listen to the shiur by clicking on this link, or download it by right clicking and pressing "save as".
Rav Tzadok on Cheshvan

The source sheets are available as a pdf by clicking on this link:
Rav Tzadok on Cheshvan

Jewish History of the World part 2

This is part two of the history shiur - going over the highlights of the past millenium. Starting with the Rif, Rashi, Rambam and Tosefot, via Tzfat, Shulchan Aruch and Kabbalah, Chmielnicki and Shabbatai Tzvi, the split between Chasidim and Misnagdim (and then I basically ran out of time) I look at the main people and events in Jewish history, and how they interact and relate to general world history.

Unfortunately there is no source sheet yet for this shiur, but hopefully I will make one soon.

You can listen to the shiur by clicking on this link, or download it by right clicking and pressing "save as".
Jewish History of the World part 2

Jewish History of the World part 1

I gave a shiur today at Midreshet Rachel which was an overview of Jewish history within the context of wider world history. It traces the evolution of the Torah and relationship to G-d from the time of Adam and Eve until the end of the period of the Gaonim.

You can listen to the shiur by clicking on this link, or download it by right clicking and pressing "save as".
Jewish History of the World part 1

The source sheets are available as a pdf by clicking on this link:
Jewish History part 1

Tisha B'Av and Tu B'Av

Here is a recording of a shiur I gave last night in Yad Binyamin. In the shiur I look at the relationship between the mourning of Tisha B'Av and the happiness of Tu B'Av (Fifteenth of Av). The five tragedies that happened on one are corrected by the five celebrations of the other.

In addition I talk about what that means for us today, and how Tu B'Av is relevant nowadays (apart from being the Jewish 'Valentine's' Day with parties on the beach).

There is also a discussion of crying at night, and its antidote of learning Torah at night.

There is an audio file and a pdf of the source sheet.

May we merit to celebrate the festival of the 9th of Av with the coming of Mashiach speedily.

Tisha B'Av to Tu B'Av - audio

Tisha B'Av to Tu B'Av - source sheets pdf

History of Kabbalah audio shiur

This is a shiur that I gave today at MRC on the history of kabbalah.

It explains the role of kabbalah, and the various kabbalistic texts in the context of the development of the Oral Law.

I also try to answer the following questions that were put to me last week:

1. Why was the kabbalah - or the Zohar - accepted if it seemed to be in contradiction with earlier concepts?
2. Why is it that we have to follow the majority opinion? I thought that this was only for halacha? Is it only for the majority of RELIGIOUS Jews that we follow? What if that majority starts following something that is totally inconsistent with Torah up until that point, ie all religious Jews start saying that Hashem is a physical being? Must we follow it then? And does it become the spiritual reality, does it become truth? If so, what is the source for it becoming reality just by the majority of Jews following it - For halacha and hashkafa?

When will Mashiach come


Shabbatai Tzvi

Here is a recording of a shiur I gave at Midreshet Rachel v'Chaya this week. I look at different predictions for when Mashiach will arrive, the problems in attaching the predictions to specific dates, and the problems of a false Messiah. (Hence the picture of Shabbatai Tzvi above. Many siddurim and chumashim from that time were printed with pictures of him sitting on the throne of Shlomo HaMelech, as the King of Israel).

Here is the audio.

When Will Mashiach Come

You can download the pdf file of the source material by clicking on this link:
When Will Mashiach Come

Heart and Soul

I gave a shiur today on what the word 'heart' means in the Torah, Rishonim and Acharonim. This is not a medical shiur (obviously) but a discussion of the changing meanings of the metaphor of heart.

The ancient Greeks also disagreed as to the meaning of the heart, and even in the earliest uses in the English language we find at least two different (opposite) uses.

This is a very important shiur because it defines how we should be serving G-d. Does He want our emotions and feelings, or our minds and intellects?

At the very least it will give you a better understanding of p'shat in the Talmud and in K'rias Shema when you say 'b'chol levavecha'

The audio is here:
Heart and Soul mp3 audio download

and the pdf of the sources is here:
Heart and Soul pdf download

Parshas Shmini

The opening events in the portion take place on the eighth and final day of the setting up of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), hence the name of the portion, Shemini (Eighth). The Mishkan resembled a giant tent, comprised of many parts that were fitted together, and it was designed to be assembled and taken apart for each of the journeys through the desert. As part of the inauguration process, Moshe was instructed by G-d to set up the Mishkan each morning for seven days, and dismantle it again each evening. The eighth and final day, when the Mishkan was finally erected and not dismantled, is the eighth day of our portion.

Tzav

Though they both speak about korbanot, sacrifices, there is a sharp distinction between last week’s Torah reading, Vayikra, and this week’s Tzav. Rashi explains that the word Vayikra is a term of endearment, as evidenced by the fact that the angels use it when they begin their praises of G-d, as it says “Vayikra Ze El Ze”, “They called one to another” (Yishayah 6: 3. We also recite the phrase daily in the Kedushaprayer, imitating the angels’ praise of G-d). On the other hand, “Tzav” means “command”, and carries with it connotations of inducing and encouraging someone to perform an action that they are not keen to do.

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