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, October 12, 2018


For Noach
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, October 5, 2018


For Bereishit
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, September 28, 2018

INSIGHT 5779 - #03: Kohelet

For Succot
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Insight 5779-02: Succat Dovid

For Succot
Not yet available on the Nishma website

1) Further on the words of Maharal, in regard to the Jewish monarchy, it it important to recognize that the prime function of the king was to protect the workings of the society, namely, for example, to fight the necessary wars and/or maintain, law and order. It is, as such, important for the Jewish king, in regard to these secular functions, to also reflect strength and permanence, It is within this Divine task for the Jewish monarchy that we do, indeed, refer to the Davidic dynasty as the House of David. It is, though, further important for us to recognize that this is still indeed part of its Divine task -- it is the Divine that demands this involvement in the secular. 

At the same time, though, we must also recognize that the Jewish monarchy's role is also intended to extend into the religious realm. It was still the project of the monarchy -- in specific terms, the dream of Dovid HaMelech finally brought to fruition by, his son, Shlomo HaMelech -- to build the Beit HaMikdash. It is in this recognition of the Jewish monarchy's purpose beyond the secular that we refer to the Davidic dynasty as Succat Dovid.

2) Further on the words of Malbim, it is interesting to note that his perception that the coming of the Mashiach will occur in an incremental manner would be in line with -- although not necessarily in specifics -- the modern perspective of Messianic Zionism as presented by such individuals as the Raya Kuk. Rav Kuk's argument that the return of the Jewish People to Israel, even as spearheaded by the non-religious, was the beginning of the Redemption, also reflected an idea that the coming of the Mashiach would be in an incremental fashion although, obviously, not similar to Malbim's perspective of this incremental process.  

Friday, September 14, 2018


For Vayelech, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, August 31, 2018

Insight 5778-43: This World

For Ki Tavo
Not yet available on the Nishma website

The presentation in the Insight is not intended to explain how we are able to perceive the Divine cause-and-effect in response to our actions. This is still a challenge beyond our understanding. What the brachot and klallot do inform us, though, is that we are to absolutely perceive this Divine cause-and-effect within our lives and to see God in all that occurs to us, specifically in response to our behaviour. In this manner, we clearly see life differently. We may not know the specifics of why what occurs to us does occur to us but recognizing this involvement of the Divine in our lives is of great significance. We are always to see the involvement of God in our lives and learn from this to the extent that we can.

Friday, August 24, 2018

INSIGHT 5778 - #42 - MORES

For Ki Teitzei
Not yet available on the Nishma website

 I hope that no one thinks that I am in any way presenting, with the words of this Insight, an argument for an allowance for promiscuity . Clearly, for many halachic reasons, the view of Torah is that sexual expression should only occur within marriage. My point, though, is that it must be recognized that the underlying Torah morality that we are to, in fact, learn from the Torah restrictions in this regard can reflect different value constructs than those that foster any similar viewpoints in the general world. 

This is also so with many other ethical/moral stands within life; for example, the Torah view of tzniut is vastly different that calls within the world for sexual modesty. While in many ways the resultant behaviour may often be similar, the underlying moral construct advocating for this behaviour may actually be vastly different. What we can thus also find are situations where advocates of behaviour clearly contrary to that demanded by Torah actually present certain Torah values in their arguments as they challenge values presented against their viewpoint which actually are contrary to Torah. That is the case here in that the Christian sexual ethic is vastly different than the Torah ethic in this regard in many ways.

An important example of this would be the niddah laws which clearly indicate that Torah sexual morality is not just tied to marriage. In fact, these laws indicate that proper sexuality is not a black-and-white condition when it is always either permitted or not. In a value system based solely on marriage, sexuality between a couple is either always permitted or always not, depending on whether the couple is married or not. Pursuant to the niddah laws -- which, it can be argued, is a more fundamental construct within the Torah sexual ethical system than marriage -- it is clear, though, that proper sexual expression must be a development of the couple's expression within a more fluid environment. This, obviously, reflect a different understanding of sexuality including a significance to sexual expression when guided by these principles and expressed in its proper time.

Rabbi Ben Hecht .