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 6, 2019

INSIGHT 5780 - #09: YAAKOV'S ETHIC

For  Vayetzei

Available on the Nishma Facebook Page

Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, November 22, 2019

INSIGHT 5780 - #08: THE DEPTH OF TORAH

For  Chayei Sarah

Available on the Nishma Facebook Page

Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, November 15, 2019

INSIGHT 5780 - #07: AVRAHAM’S JOY IN GIVING

For  Vayeira

Available on the Nishma Facebook Page

Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, November 8, 2019

INSIGHT 5780 - #06: THE MASK OF EVIL

For  Lech Lecha

Available on the Nishma Facebook Page

Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, November 1, 2019

INSIGHT 5780 - #05: TORAH AND MORALITY

For  Noach

Available on the Nishma Facebook Page

Not yet available on the Nishma website

* * * * *

The distinction presented in the Insight between a Jew and a Non-Jew in approach to Torah study obviously demands further clarification. This idea would not seem to actually have practical application in an individual's study of Torah. Any person wishing to gain from such study must, of course, apply all their capabilities to this endeavour and thus any approach to this study must enable every form of effort. A Jew and a Non-Jew must clearly study Torah with all out intensity. Any theory of distinction in such study cannot affect this and, as such, must be limited in regard to the study of the individual.

The distinction, as such, must be in the communal nature of this study. The call, as such, must be for a recognition of a distinction in the subject matter as it is understood within its communal nature. Such a distinction may begin with identifying the distinctions in law between the Noachide Code and the Code of 613 mitzvot applicable to Jews, specifically in matters that overlap. This would be, for example, in regard to such matters as the justice system, the definition of marriage, the opposing directive in regard to Shabbat observance. One would also have to consider the many matters, such the honouring of parents, which are part of the Torah legal code but not part of the Noachide Code although of ethical value to Noachides as well. Then one may also want to consider the chukkot which are part of the Torah Code but have no standing in the Noachide Code. 

All these distinctions in details would then seem to point to some inherent distinction in the very nature and purpose of the two codes. In that God's Law for humanity presents a distinction between Jews and Non-Jews even in its very purpose -- although, obviously, still sharing much similarity in purpose - the contention would be that this recognition of distinction in purpose must also affect how one studies Torah. Non-Jews are thus called upon to study Torah, especially in the areas applicable to  them, with the consideration of God's Law for Non-Jews. This may not have much effect in most matters of Torah study but this distinction would explain what is meant by the Torah -- embodying the Code of 613 mitzvot -- is to be recognized as the distinctive inheritance of the Jewish People.

I recognize that I have not really voiced an opinion of what this distinction in purpose is. I leave this to the reader to continue this study. I did hint to this, however, in the Insight in that Torah is not simply a legal code but presents the basic elements for the creation of a good society and civilization. Jews are not just to be good citizens they are to be partners with God in shaping this world. This is a study on a different level.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Friday, October 25, 2019

Friday, October 18, 2019

Thursday, October 10, 2019

INSIGHT 5780 - #02: THAT VERY DAY

For  Ha'azinu

Not yet available on the Nishma website


* * * * *

 In a certain way, it should be noted that both the words of Rabbi Hirsch and this presentation of the Sifri indicate that Moshe's ascent of Mount Nevo openly, in broad daylight, indicate the significance of devotion to God. Within both approaches, the demand was not one that was desired but nevertheless it was the Will of God. And, as such, it was done in the open view of all to declare that we indeed follow, with abiding commitment, the Will of God.

Friday, October 4, 2019

INSIGHT 5780 - #01: KNOWING THE FUTURE

For  Vayeilech, Shabbat Shuvah

Not yet available on the Nishma website


* * * * *

I wanted to add that the statement in T.B. Baba Batra 17a which identifies the four individuals who never sinned (Binyamin, the son of Yaakov Avinu; Amram, the father of Moshe Rabbeinu; Yishai, the father of Dovid HaMelech; and Caleiv, the son of Dovid HaMelech) is most significant to our topic. These four individuals, while significant in their own right, were still not the greatest individuals within Jewish history. It would seem that these 'greatest individuals' made mistakes as well.  

Friday, September 27, 2019

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Friday, August 2, 2019

Friday, July 19, 2019

INSIGHT 5779 - #37: BONDS OF SOCIETY

For  Balak
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

For clarification purposes, I just want to further explain my point. To draw someone into a certain plan of behaviour which this person may find objectionable, the first step may be to draw the person into an activity which the person actually values. In sharing this activity with this other, some connection may also form. Steps can then be taken to foster the connection while drawing the person into other behaviours which this person may not necessarily value as much but would still not find objectionable. As the connection then strengthens, especially if it is seen as a value in itself, a slightly objectionable action could then be suggested and if that works, the potential to draw the person into further objectionable activities could be a result. As there is a connection between sexuality and relating, one could see how such a path could lead a person who values human relationships, over some time period, to be drawn in, by an initial simple act of relating, into a sexual misdeed -- even, albeit, initial concern for inappropriate sexuliaty.
Rabbi Ben Hecht

Friday, July 12, 2019

INSIGHT 5779 - #36: THE DEFINITION OF THE TZADDIK

For  Chukkat
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website



One may wonder why we could not learn the idea I present in the Insight directly from the story of Moshe and the rock found completely within this Parsha. The fact that Moshe and Aharon are deemed to have sinned and, as such, faced the consequence of not entering Israel would seem to convey the same message regarding righteousness. We do not see righteousness from a micro perspective and while one is still responsible for the details of one's actions, the tzaddik is evaluated from the macro perspective, the gestalt. The fact is, though, that the problem with Moshe's hitting of the rock is unclear and there is so much ambiguity regarding this action, a lesson of this nature could be easily circumvented. While there is much discussion regarding what exactly Miriam did wrong, there is no doubt that a transgression was done. Nevertheless, the righteousness of Miriam is never challenged.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Friday, April 12, 2019

Friday, March 15, 2019

INSIGHT 5779 - #21: MY TRUTH

For Parshat Zachor
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website



1) There is, perhaps, an interesting application of this idea in regard to the Purim story. T.B. Megilla 12b informs us that the people were hesitant in responding to the edict to attack the Jews because they were concerned about the potential for Achashveirosh to change his mind and punish them for following his first intentions after he changed his mind. His edicts were simply not well thought out as evidenced by his edict that the husband should objectively be the head of the household notwithstanding the actual reality of the subjective nature of the individual husband-wife relationship. (See, further, Rashi.) This is the way of the evil person -- to state a truth regardless of its basis in reality -- and this was Achashveirosh. (Perhaps, also, connecting to the classic question of whether he was just a fool or more evil than Haman). In this case, imposing his 'My Truth' actually worked for the benefit of the Jewish People.

2) It was intention that I chose the title 'My Truth", obviously referring to the modern use of this term. This is not to say that the use of this term always reflects evil -- it clearly does not and there are times, in fact, when we should use this term to reflect the proper application of our subjective evaluation of the facts within the parameters of honest objectivity. My use of this term, though, does still indicate that people must be careful not to follow Amalek's lead to define one's behaviour notwithstanding what is absolutely known to be the objective reality.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Insight 5779-18: Seeking the Whole

For Yitro
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website


In regard to the verse of Anochi, I should add that it is further significant that many believe it not to be an actual commandment. While Rambam does count it as actual mitzvah, many others do not. They define it precisely as laying the basis for the mitzvot. This idea would further substantiate the thought presented in the Insight.

Friday, January 18, 2019

INSIGHT 5779 - #17: GIVE ME LIBERTY OR…

For Beshalach
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website


It is of interest to note that Patrick Henry saw his words a reflecting a deep commitment to the human being being created in the image of God. Liberty was not to be a license for a person to do whatever a person desired. It was the freedom for one to do all that was necessary to reach the Divine goal for the person. It was clearly a Torah value which he enunciated. The freedom attained through the Exodus from Egypt was not intended to allow people to be as hedonistic as they may wish. It was actually a transfer from being slaves of Pharaoh to becoming ovdei Hashem [servants of God]. Part of this task was for one to grow and develop, more and more, into this type of person. It is a lack of this understanding of what liberty truly is from which we suffer from in today's world.

RBH 

Friday, January 11, 2019

INSIGHT 5779 - #16: MOCKING EGYPT

For Bo
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website


The existence of free will is, of course, what makes us culpable for our actions and thereby grow and develop into singular beings able to emulate God to the extent that we can. Pharaoh and the Egyptians, in order to be subject to the punishments inflicted by the plagues had to have free will. What this Insight is adding, though, is that it is also important for us to recognize that, even as we think we are so right and believe in the strength of our decisions and being, what we may be experiencing is not our free will but its actual removal from us by God. We can also be in the Hands of God Who is directing us pursuant to His plan and objective. That recognition is an important realization in challenging our potential haughtiness.