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.)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Friday, April 22, 2016


For Pesach

Not yet available on the Nishma website

Study Question

1) One may be wondering how the commitment to the Divine ethic connects with the recognition of the Supernatural Essence of the Divine. It is the realization that the Divine is beyond the natural and supersedes the natural that actually yields the overriding nature of the Divine ethic over the natural order. In the realm of the natural, one can always use the argument that the end justifies the means because the overriding concern of the natural must be the conclusion. It is the supernatural nature of Torah ethics that declares that, while there are times that the end does justify the means, this is not an absolute principle. Many times within Torah, the ethic of the means is paramount notwithstanding the result. It is the recognition of the supernatural nature of the Divine that gives weight to the argument that the end may not justify the means. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Insight 5776-28: Halachic Reality

For Metzorah

Not yet available on the Nishma website

Study Question

1) In regard to the question of why even a Talmud Chacham must state k'nega, like a mark, rather than just call it in a straightforward manner a nega -- after all he knows the criteria -- there are many different answer with significant moral lessons. For example, there is the argument that since the scholar still must wait for the kohain's ruling, this teaches a certain level of humility -- don't run to state the conclusion until you have to. You can always be missing something. On this overall question, see, further, Rabbi Moshe Hochman, Morasha, Parshat Metzorah, K'nega Nireh Li.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Insight 5776-27: The Humanity of Torah

For Tazria

Not yet available on the Nishma website

Study Question

1) Some may wish to challenge me in regard to my statement about the overall significance of action by referring to the fact that God rewards someone, in various circumstances, for intent even if an action is not concluded. This is, in fact, a principle of Torah albeit within certain parameters. This idea, though, does not challenge what I was stating. I was not discussing reward, especially God's evaluation and response to us. This is the province of God to which I am totally unable to comment. In that realm, motivation, effort and intent matter -- especially in that God knows the truth. In the human realm, though, the basic yardstick of propriety we have is still action. Intent is not a factor that we can objectively employ.

2) It is also interesting to note how the same concept is expressed in the discussion regarding milah. Notwithstanding the great joy in the performance of this fundamental mitzvah, the pain of the child in being circumcised, and even the pain in the father in seeing his child hurt, is noted...and with halachic significance.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Insight 5776-26: Rabbinic Legislation

For Shemini

Not yet available on the Nishma website

Study Question

1) It may be important for me to clarify that the distinction in our relationship to Biblical law and Rabbinic law may not really be as heavy as I present in the Insight. It was presented that way in order to clarify the point and to emphasize a difference in nature that is often overlooked. The call of na'aseh v'nishma indeed permeates the entire system of Torah law. We are expected to follow Rabbinic enactments even as we do not understand them and the observance of Torah laws is also enhanced with understanding (that is actually the call of nishma). The difference in what is to exist in regard to our relationship to Biblical and Rabbinic laws is, as such, somewhat slight. But, nonetheless it still exists -- and this presentation was the purpose of this Insight.