Welcome to the Nishma Insight Discussion Forum blog.


The NISHMA INSIGHT is our popular dvar Torah, distributed almost every week by e-mail, that touches upon an important concept in the Parsha, theme in a holiday or event in contemporary society.

Often, readers respond, via e-mail, with comments that initiate a further dialogue. Through this Discussion Forum, we now wish to open this dialogue to others. If you have a comment on the INSIGHT, we invite you place to your comments here; then we invite everyone to join the discussion.

(If you are not receiving the NISHMA INSIGHT, we invite you join our mailing/e-mail list through completing our sign-up form available at our website.)

Friday, November 8, 2019

INSIGHT 5780 - #06: THE MASK OF EVIL

For  Lech Lecha

Available on the Nishma Facebook Page

Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, November 1, 2019

INSIGHT 5780 - #05: TORAH AND MORALITY

For  Noach

Available on the Nishma Facebook Page

Not yet available on the Nishma website

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The distinction presented in the Insight between a Jew and a Non-Jew in approach to Torah study obviously demands further clarification. This idea would not seem to actually have practical application in an individual's study of Torah. Any person wishing to gain from such study must, of course, apply all their capabilities to this endeavour and thus any approach to this study must enable every form of effort. A Jew and a Non-Jew must clearly study Torah with all out intensity. Any theory of distinction in such study cannot affect this and, as such, must be limited in regard to the study of the individual.

The distinction, as such, must be in the communal nature of this study. The call, as such, must be for a recognition of a distinction in the subject matter as it is understood within its communal nature. Such a distinction may begin with identifying the distinctions in law between the Noachide Code and the Code of 613 mitzvot applicable to Jews, specifically in matters that overlap. This would be, for example, in regard to such matters as the justice system, the definition of marriage, the opposing directive in regard to Shabbat observance. One would also have to consider the many matters, such the honouring of parents, which are part of the Torah legal code but not part of the Noachide Code although of ethical value to Noachides as well. Then one may also want to consider the chukkot which are part of the Torah Code but have no standing in the Noachide Code. 

All these distinctions in details would then seem to point to some inherent distinction in the very nature and purpose of the two codes. In that God's Law for humanity presents a distinction between Jews and Non-Jews even in its very purpose -- although, obviously, still sharing much similarity in purpose - the contention would be that this recognition of distinction in purpose must also affect how one studies Torah. Non-Jews are thus called upon to study Torah, especially in the areas applicable to  them, with the consideration of God's Law for Non-Jews. This may not have much effect in most matters of Torah study but this distinction would explain what is meant by the Torah -- embodying the Code of 613 mitzvot -- is to be recognized as the distinctive inheritance of the Jewish People.

I recognize that I have not really voiced an opinion of what this distinction in purpose is. I leave this to the reader to continue this study. I did hint to this, however, in the Insight in that Torah is not simply a legal code but presents the basic elements for the creation of a good society and civilization. Jews are not just to be good citizens they are to be partners with God in shaping this world. This is a study on a different level.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Friday, October 25, 2019

Friday, October 18, 2019

Thursday, October 10, 2019

INSIGHT 5780 - #02: THAT VERY DAY

For  Ha'azinu

Not yet available on the Nishma website


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 In a certain way, it should be noted that both the words of Rabbi Hirsch and this presentation of the Sifri indicate that Moshe's ascent of Mount Nevo openly, in broad daylight, indicate the significance of devotion to God. Within both approaches, the demand was not one that was desired but nevertheless it was the Will of God. And, as such, it was done in the open view of all to declare that we indeed follow, with abiding commitment, the Will of God.

Friday, October 4, 2019

INSIGHT 5780 - #01: KNOWING THE FUTURE

For  Vayeilech, Shabbat Shuvah

Not yet available on the Nishma website


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I wanted to add that the statement in T.B. Baba Batra 17a which identifies the four individuals who never sinned (Binyamin, the son of Yaakov Avinu; Amram, the father of Moshe Rabbeinu; Yishai, the father of Dovid HaMelech; and Caleiv, the son of Dovid HaMelech) is most significant to our topic. These four individuals, while significant in their own right, were still not the greatest individuals within Jewish history. It would seem that these 'greatest individuals' made mistakes as well.  

Friday, September 27, 2019