All in Machshavah

Last week’s parsha concludes with the commandment to destroy the nation of Amaleik. This week’s parsha begins by listing the unique mitzvos ha’teluyos ba’aretz, or the mitzvos that are only able to be fulfilled in the land of Israel, starting with bikkurim. Rashi often asks what the connection between two seemingly unrelated parshios is, but he is curiously silent here...

Recently, hundreds of people gathered in downtown Detroit to watch two cats fighting over a piece of meat. Individual participants painted themselves to represent respective cats, alcohol was in abundance, fights broke out, and endless dollars were spent on being able to witness this incredible display of sociality and achievement. By the time the blue-eyed calico cat had won, all felt much better about themselves, the calico, and the general state of the universe...

There is a structural oddity found in Parshas Tetzaveh. In last week’s parsha, Terumah, the Torah discusses at length all the various keilim of the Mishkan. The Torah then moves on in Tetzaveh to discuss the clothing of the Kohein Gadol, until the end of the parsha, at which point it resumes its discussion of the keilim by speaking about the mizbeach ha’ketores. We must then ask the obvious question: Why is the mizbeach ha’ketores separated from all the other keilim? Why is the Torah broken up this way?...

In his famous work, Mesillas Yesharim, Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzato ascertains that in addition to stealing being prohibited, anything that can potentially lead to stealing is also prohibited. The concept of a geder is nothing new. In Judaism, we are fully protected by Chazal to never commit a d’oraita through all of the layers of issurei deraban that are legislated. But this safeguard seems to be different. It is extremely open-ended — and even seems a bit subjective — whereas all the other Rabbinic decrees are more rigid; open to debate in how to keep them practically, but still laid out clearly...