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, December 26, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

Insight 5775-12: Uniting Worlds

For Mikeitz and Chanukah
Not yet available on the Nishma website.

Study Question


Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

Insight 5775-08: Details

For Chayei Sarah
Not yet available on the Nishma website.

1) To answer the question of why the Magen Avraham simply distinguishes between food and water, I simply directed readers to Yad Ephraim, Orach Chaim 167:6, choosing, because of space limitations to not present his answer although, I would think, readers would like to know an answer to the question. What the Yad Ephraim basically states is that the obligation to feed animals first is -- derived, by the gemara, from Devarim 11:15 -- may be because God is only supplying us with food because of the needs of the animals. Our own merits, in themselves, may not be enough, ch'v'sh, to deserve the food. As such, we should feel the animals first. In regard to water, though, the providing of water is not dependent upon a perceived active involvement of God -- i.e. proper weather, etc. -- but is simply tied, in many ways, to what already exists -- wells, streams. As such, we do not have to water animals first. 
You are invited to find other explanations.

Study Question

1) An interesting question may exist in regard to Rav Moshe's answer. What if the person giving the charity states, as a condition of the charity, that the money should not go to one's animals. In the laws of tzedakah, a person giving charity can lay out certain conditions on how the recipient can use the money -- for example, a person can state that the money given cannot be used to pay off a debt. Could a person make a similar condition in regard to the tending of animals. If so, we could then simply argue that Rivka stated as a condition of her assistance that Eliezer must take water first -- and this would solve the entire question.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday, October 24, 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Insight 5775-04: The Torah Ethic

For V'zot HaBracha, Bereishit, Simchat Torah
Not yet available on the Nishma website.

Study Question


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Friday, October 3, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

Spark of the Week 5754-27

For Parshiot Re'eh, Shoftim
Available on the Nishma website

From their inception in 5753 until 5756, Insights were originally entitled Sparks of the Week.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

Insight 5774-37: Yichus

For Pinchus
Not yet available on the Nishma website.

Study Question

1) Whenever the issue of righteousness becomes connected to genetics, the question of free will and proper judgement immediately also arises. The fact is, though, as expressed in the Insight, some human drives are more prone to righteous behaviour and so are more prone to negative consequences. The result must be a more complex understanding of the realm of good and evil than the cartoon impression of little devils and little angels. This is clearly a matter for further investigation.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday, May 30, 2014

Insight 5774-34: SOTAH AND NEZIRUT

For Naso
Not yet available on the Nishma website.

Study Question

1) One may still wonder, though: why would non-intoxicating parts of the grape still be part of any prohibition? Why would a kohain according to the Magen Avraham be prohibited to drink grape juice before blessing the people?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Insight 5774-31: The Ancient Jewish Society

For Emor
Not yet available on the Nishma website.

There are many verses in the Torah that seem to define the kohain as having a judicial function yet there is no specific direction within the Torah that the Kehuna is to have that function. I am now wondering if the mechanics of tovat hana'ah and terumah may have been the that which led the kohanim into such a function.


Study Question


Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

Insight 5774-25: The Absence of Doubt

For Zachor
Not yet available on the Nishma website.

People may wonder: does this argument not also imply that we should have doubt in God? Are we not obligated to be certain in our conviction to Him and His Torah? 

Doubt is really a human condition and has nothing to do with the reality of God. One who doubts God really doubts oneself, one's ability to recognize the Divine. This is, however, in fact the human condition: we are all limited as human beings in knowing God. Surety is thus not a statement about God but, rather, a statement about self. One who is sure about what he believes about God or about what God says is really declaring a surety in his/her ability to comprehend God. Are we commanded to be as sure as we can possibly be in our relationship with the Divine? Absolutely. Are we, though, to think we are clearly 100% correct? There is the problem. As Rav Moshe says in his Hakdama to Iggrot Moshe, what is demanded of us is to do the best humanly possible for us. Could I still be wrong, though? The answer is yes. It is such a person who is then open to correction and education. Is it not surprising that Rav Moshe calls upon people to analyze his answers and tell him if there is a problem. This did not take away the needed adamancy he had in his psak for that is necessary of one called upon to render decisions. He also, though, recognized his inherent limitations. 

Belief in God cannot be belief in one's perception of God. Such a belief is actually the belief of the religious dogmatist who is not really interested in the true nature of God which fosters questioning but the certainty of his/her dogmatism. Our belief must be a belief in the true nature of God. This demands that one have some doubt in one's perception and is open to being taught about this True Nature which may demand a shift in one's perception.

Study Question


Friday, March 7, 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday, February 7, 2014

Insight 5774-22: The Human Factor

For Tetzaveh
Not yet available on the Nishma website.

Study Question

1) The assumption is made within the Insight that, pursuant to the gemara's understanding that God was saying that the light was for Moshe, that God was not really saying that the light was for Moshe specifically but for human beings. Yet the verse does say 'for you', for Moshe? Why did God not just state that the light was for human beings?

Friday, January 31, 2014

Insight 5774-21: Community and Individual

For Terumah
Not yet available on the Nishma website.

Study Question

1) Implicit in the Insight's message is the necessary divergence in the behaviour of individual's in a community; not everyone can be a doctor, a lawyer, a farmer. Applied to the structure of Torah, if a relationship with God is a communal objective, not everyone can be the kohein. There is also a need for divergence. Included in the message of this Insight, is the uniqueness of the view of spirituality.

This was my message in regard to women and tefillin. It was with this in mind that I downplayed the desire of these women to wear tefillin. Mitzvot are not generic sources of spirituality. It is this view of them as such that motivates those on the outside to desire to adopt this behaviour. It is similar to the non-kohein wishing to be a kohein. The challenge is, though, that over the centuries women had adopted certain behaviours from which they were exempt such as listening to the shofar and taking a lulav and etrog. Based upon my argument, why would this have developed? Is there a place to draw the line on what can be assimilated and what cannot? This subject demands further investigation.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

Insight 5774-19: Existential Communication

For Yitro
Not yet available on the Nishma website.

Study Question

1) The gemara presents three opinions as to the news of what event prompted Yitro to go to the Jewish camp. What do you think is the difference in motivation represented by this difference of opinion?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday, January 3, 2014