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, May 27, 2016

Insight 5776-34: THE VALUE OF MAN

For Behar

I wish to first mention that for anyone interested in reading more of Rabbi Shkopf's powerful Introduction to Shaarei Yosher, a Hebrew-English copy of the text, with an excellent translation from Rabbi Micha Berger, is available at http://www.aishdas.org/ShaareiYosher.pdf. We highly recommend it.

Study Question


Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday, May 6, 2016

Insight 5776-31: The Modern Issue of Chukim and Mishpatim

For Acharei Mot

Not yet available on the Nishma website

Study Question

1) There are, in fact, many issues that could be explored as an  of this Insight. A significant one is the issue of universalism and Jewish distinctiveness. Mishpatim, in reflecting a general ethical perspective, touches more upon the universal nature of Torah and it is not surprising that those who have a more universal reading of Torah, such as Rambam, seem to further stress the mishpatim. Chukim would seem to reflect more the distinction of the Jew and it is not surprising that they are further stressed in other presentations of Torah thought. What the Insight really might further indicate is the complexity of this issue.

2) While I touched upon this in the Insight, I did not really further clarify it. How do we look at the changing nature of the reasoned ethical in its connection with Torah? Many argue for the ultimate value of Revelation because the morality of reason is open to change -- but the Torah still values this morality of reason. The fact is that Torah, unlike more simplistic views of revealed ethics, has always recognized the complexity of ethics. See Hakdama, Iggrot Moshe. There is a reason for why God demanded thoughtful human investigation in the determination of all Halacha.

3) While I framed the question in the Insight in terms of modernity, it may also be interesting to note that the reasons for the destruction of both Batei Mikdashim focused much more on the violation of mishpatim rather than chukim. It is further interesting to note that the prophets, in focusing on how people stressed their observance of karbanot over their ethical behaviour to others, we may find a parallel to our world today in which we find people, in their religious observance, choosing to focus on spirituality rather than ethics.