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, November 22, 2019


For  Chayei Sarah

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Friday, November 15, 2019


For  Vayeira

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Friday, November 8, 2019


For  Lech Lecha

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Friday, November 1, 2019


For  Noach

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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