Toldot: A Wonderful Sin!
"When Eisav heard his father’s words he let out a most loud and bitter scream" (27:34). Our Sages sensitive to even minor failings of our Biblical heroes, coupled with their keen textual analysis saw a parallel between this verse and one appearing well over a thousand years later. "And he [Mordechai] let out a loud and bitter scream" (Esther 4:1). The pain and suffering caused to Eisav by Yaakov would cause his...Continue Reading »
Bava Metzia 58: Verbal Abuse
“Just as there is ona’ah, oppression, regarding commerce, so too there is ona’ah, oppression, regarding words. One should not say to him, ‘How much is this object?’ if he does not want to buy it. If someone was a penitent, one should not say to him, ‘Remember your former actions.’ If someone is the child of converts, one should not say to him: ‘Remember the deeds of your ancestors.’ As...Continue Reading »
Bava Metzia 55: What is a Penny Worth?
There is not too much one can do with a penny; so little, in fact, that the Canadian government removed them from circulation in 2013 with purchases rounded off to the nearest nickel. The Talmudic equivalent of the penny, the prutah, was also of little economic value, but it was of great significance. “There are five prutot” (Bava Metzia 55a), the Mishna teaches as it lists the five areas of the law where a mere prutah...Continue Reading »
Bava Metzia 49: What Did You Say it Cost?
“Ona’ah is four silver maot in twenty-four…1/6th of the price” (Bava Metzia 49b). The laws of ona’ah, price fraud, forbid one from selling above the market norm. The halacha recognizes three distinct forms of ona’ah. If the price of the object is more than 1/6th above (or below) the market price the buyer (or seller) has the right to void the sale. If the divergence is exactly 1/6th the excess (or deficient)...Continue Reading »
Chayei Sarah: My Son, My Yitzchak
Sixty seven verses. That’s how much space the Torah devotes to the story of finding the proper mate for Yitzchak. There is no more important decision than that of whom - or whom not - to marry. The Torah not only tells the story of the servant of Avraham finding a suitable mate to carry on the legacy of Abraham and Sarah, it repeats the entire story with subtle but significant differences of the “...Continue Reading »