Rashi

Shoftim: Seeking Justice

Almost always, wrongdoing requires that people work together to perpetrate such. As has been accepted in the legal systems of Western countries, it is the enablers, more than the perpetrators themselves, who are viewed with greater opprobrium. Those who enable sin violate the biblical prohibition against lifnei iver, placing a stumbling block before the blind. According to Tosafot (Avodah Zara 22a, s.v. teipuk), even if one only aids and abets a rabbinic violation of the law, one nonetheless violates lifnei iver on a biblical level.

Pesachim 34: Land of Darkness

Soon after the editing of the Mishna in the land of Israel, Jewish life and learning started slowly shifting towards Bavel. This was set into motion by Rav and Shmuel two of the leading students of Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi - the editor of the Mishna - who headed the great Babylonian learning centres of Sura and Neharda and was exacerbated by the increasingly difficulty of religious life in Israel. There was much interaction between these two great centres as leading rabbis would travel back and forth bringing the teachings of one to the other.

Eiruvin 60b: He's Only a Prophet

To tell someone that his words are those of prophecy would seem to be the highest compliment one can give. The prerequisites for being a prophet are tough indeed, and those who can meet them are certainly most worthy of praise (see Maimonides, Laws of Foundations of Torah 7:1). Our great prophets help inspire, teach, comfort, and lead the people. Their uplifting words laid the vision for the Jewish nation, and even those who rejected the halachic system of Judaism embraced much of the prophetic vision.

Brachot 50: Gratitude

“From the blessings of man, we see if he is a scholar or not”. How, and more importantly, whom one blesses tells us much about a person. How we word our blessings was of great interest to our Sages; after all, before speaking to a king, we think over each word we want to say, and mistakes reflect a lack of seriousness. How much more so when speaking to the King of Kings!

Bo: Moonlight

In his opening comment on the Bible, Rashi links the Creation story to that of the Exodus. Working on the assumption that the Torah is primarily a book of law, Rashi famously asks why the Torah does not begin with the first law given to the Jewish people, that of establishing a calendar. “And G-d spoke to Moshe and Aaron in the land of Egypt. This month [Nissan] shall be the head of months, the first to you of the months of the year” (12:1-2).

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