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.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Insight 5773-23: The Excellent Mystery Writer

For Tetzaveh
Not yet available on the Nishma website.

Study Questions

1) The kal v'chomer presented by the gemara to derive a need to be conscious of tefillin from the Tzitz truly is worthy of further contemplation. If the gemara was discussing the normal case of inner consciousness of the wearer -- which would be the simple way of approaching the subject -- why would the fact that the name of God on the Tzitz is publicly displayed matter

Friday, February 15, 2013

Insight 5733-22: The Three Crowns

For Terumah
Not yet available on the Nishma website.

Study Questions

1) In the Insight, I presented a way of possibly showing how the Mizbe'ach could be seen as both connected to Malchut and the Kehuna based upon a distinction in focus between effect and basis of honour. One may wish to consider how this approach could be applied to the Shulchan.

2) Rabbi Hochman continues in his discussion with a focus on the final statement in the mishna regarding how the crown of a good name is superior to the other three. His question is: why is this fourth crown not then included in the count, namely the mishna should have began with a statement that there are four crowns? 
See comment from Rabbi Hecht

Friday, February 8, 2013

Insight 5773-21: The Significance of Civil Law

For Mishpatim
Not yet available on the Nishma website.

Study Question

1) There was a technical question regarding one of the ideas presented in the Insight which I wanted to include in a footnote but did not have the space. The Rav speaks of the intellectual strength of Nezikin to which he brings a proof text from the gemara in Baba Batra. I further built upon this idea with the statement of the Torah Temima. In fact, the Torah Temima uses the word da'at, somewhat applying it to our issue, but I put his words together with the words of the Rav to further substantiate the intellectual value of Nezikin. The problem is that T.B.  Shabbat 31a states that if one wants to develop da'at, one should learn Taharot. According to the gemara, the motivation for studying Nezikin is yeshu'ot which literally means salvation which Rashi understands to mean in this case pragmatically how one can stay away from paying for damages, etc. I do not believe this completely challenges the idea of the elite Torah intellectual nature of Nezikin but it is something to ponder in regard to this question.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Insight 5773-20: Yitro's Conversion

For Yitro
Not yet available on the Nishma website.

Study Question

1) The major question of the Insight actually still remains: What did motivate Yitro to convert? According to the three opinions cited: What did Yitro see in each event that led him to wish to become a member of Klal Yisrael

The one hint that I offered that might assist in this search is that, it is my belief, within the three events Yitro saw something unique in how the Universal God related to this specific nation. This was not like all the other nations each having their own specific deities nor was it like all other universal theologies who project one form of Divine connection for all humanity (albeit making distinctions on actual theological yardsticks such as between believer and non-believer). In each event he saw the absolute benefit of being a Jew -- and this is what he now desired. And most significantly this desire was actually very unique. The challenge is to define this pursuant to the three variant opinions -- if they, in fact, are different or only simply different reflections of the same idea (which is one approach in the commentators).