Torah Study

sefer torahWeekly Torah Study is Saturday morning at 9. We meet in the Room 202 of Temple Brith Kodesh (enter by Door A).  We decide year by year how we'll approach the weekly portion.  Last year we used the weekly d'var Torah from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks as a jumping off point.  This year, we're going to consider each parsha from a Mussar perspective.  Each week an email is sent out (usually on Thursday) to anyone who may be interested.  You're welcome on Saturday, whether or not you got the email or had time to read it.  Discussions are generally lively.

Parshat Re'eh

Family harvesting fruit
Devarim 11:26

See, this day I set before you blessing and curse.

Sforno
Pay good attention so that you will not be like the nations of the world who relate to everything half-heartedly, always trying to find middle ground. Remember that I present you this day with the choice of two extremes, opposites. The blessing is an extreme in that it provides you with more than you need, whereas the curse is another extreme making sure that you have less than your basic needs. You have the choice of both before you; all you have to do is make a choice.

Is it difficult to make choices? Rabbi Wolbe notes that Solomon, the wisest of men made poor choices.

Are our biggest choices made rationally? For example, making a major career change, deciding to start a family, or adopting a religion: how are these decisions made?

In many aspects of Mussar practice and Jewish thought, we are taught to find a middle way -- finding a balance, for example, between excessive emotionalism and coldness. What kind of choices require decisive actions?

Devarim 15:7-8
If, however, there is a needy person among you, one of your kinsmen in any of your settlements in the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not harden your heart and shut your heart against your needy kinsman. Rather, you must open your hand and lend him sufficient for whatever he needs.

A key part of the mitzvah is "for whatever he needs." It's not saying money and it's not saying what he desires. What makes someone needy? How do you know what they need?

Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe
Kindness is not limited to fulfilling another's request for help. The title ba'al chesed is reserved for one who has the ability to discern what is needed without the request being made, and then fulfills that desire.

However, kindness is not restricted to monetary donations. A smile can uplift someone who is dejected and words of encouragement can bring another real happiness. These are such small actions that could have such big ramifications. These are merely two of many kindnesses that we have the ability to perform - if we just took notice of what people are missing!

Everyone appreciates a compliment, and almost anyone you come in contact with benefits from a good word or a cheerful smile. So do a chessed that takes no time or money and make a point of complimenting or encouraging someone - today (and every day)!

Why might it be important to have an open heart to truly recognize another person's needs?

Devarim 16:13-16 (Alter)
A festival of huts you shall make for yourself seven days, when you gather in from your threshing floor and from your wine press. [The holiday of Sukkot at harvest time.] And you shall rejoice in your festival, you and your sons and your daughter and your male slave and your slavegirl and the Levite and the orphan and the widow who are within your gates. Seven days you shall celebrate to the LORD your God in the place that the LORD chooses, for the LORD your God will bless you in all your yield and in all the work of your hands, and you shall be only joyful.

Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler
It is impossible to sow a field unless it has first been plowed. Similarly, the blockage in our heart -- timtum ha-lev -- prevents spiritual feelings from penetrating it. The hard peel surrounding the heart must first be pierced. Only then can spiritual insights be sown, and only then can fruit be expected to grow, in the form of changed attitudes.

How can the hard soil of the heart be plowed? With strong emotional upheaval. This can come from sudden disaster or from great joy. When a person is in a state of great excitement, for whatever reason, his heart opens.

Both disasters and joys can open the heart. Joyous holidays can provide an opportunity for spiritual growth.

Does this provide additional insight to why God presents before us both a blessing and curse?

Is it enough to have a transformative experience? Why does Rabbi Dessler, quoting the Vilna Gaon, also say that we must be ready to sow?

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Torah Study Archive

Thumb Title
Family harvesting fruit
August 17, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and walk humbly with your God? Micha 6:8
August 10, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
The Golden Calf
August 3, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
The fall of the second temple
July 27, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
The Israelites Encamped at Mt. Sinai
July 20, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Daughters of Zelophead
July 13, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Man riding a donkey toward some mountains
July 7, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Moses striking the rock
June 29, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
desert
June 23, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
grasshopper
June 15, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
gossip
June 9, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Samson slayed 1000 men
June 1, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
woman begging
May 18, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Leaving the corners of the field
May 11, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
You should be holy, for I, the Lord Your God, am holy. Leviticus 19: 2
May 4, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
isolated figure
April 28, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Egg packaging with kosher label
April 21, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Priest at the altar
April 13, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Custom made jacket marked with tailor's chalk and basting
April 6, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Calm path with side-lighting
March 31, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
The Mishkan
March 26, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
The High Priest
March 10, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Crossing the Reed Sea
February 9, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
The second plague of Egypt
February 2, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Parshat vaera
January 26, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Moses and the daughters of Midian
January 20, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Jacob blessing Joseph's sons
January 12, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Joseph reveals himself to his brothers
January 5, 2017 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Joseph interprets Pharoh's dream
December 29, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Joseph's coat being shown to Jacob
December 22, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Jacob meets Esau
December 15, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Jacob deceives Isaac
December 8, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Burial of Sarah
November 25, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Abraham's tent
November 18, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Lech Lecha--Going out
November 16, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
The drunkenness of Noah
November 3, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Jealousy, by Edvard Munch
October 27, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Guitar at sunrise
October 13, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
The Israelites ready to cross into the promised land
October 5, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Sunset over a valley with a meandering river
September 29, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
birch bark showing the shape of a heart
September 14, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Your word is hour bond, so take them seriously
August 17, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
elderly man on a scooter
August 17, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
flamingo amongst swans
July 7, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
Scary giant
June 30, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study
sparrow pelted by snow
June 30, 2016 by Office
Filed as: Torah Study