I Love Converts: Kiddushin 70

One of the rules of Rashi's commentary to the chumash, made famous by Nehama Leibowitz z"l, is that Rashi brings a second explanation to a verse only if he is not fully satisfied with his first explanation. While the second explanation may answer one problem it creates others and it is only the combination of the two that gives a satisfactory explanation of the verse at hand. When we see three, four or five explanations to a verse we can be certain that the verse is most ambiguous.

Yevamot 17: Are You Jewish?

The assimilation and subsequent loss of Jews has been a problem since the beginning of Jewish history. Many of us were taught--in kindergarten, no less--how Abraham and Sarah converted many to Judaism. This is the midrashic explanation of the verse we will read next week, “and the nefesh, souls they made in Charan” (the simple explanation is that nefesh refers to the wealth they had acquired). Yet these anonymous people or their children must have assimilated, as we never hear from them again.

Yitro: Hear Ye, Hear Ye

"And Yitro, the priest of Midian, the father-in-law of Moshe, heard all that G-d did for Moshe and to Israel his people, that G-d had taken the Israel out of Egypt" (Shemot 18:1). Of course, Yitro was not the only one who heard all that G-d had done. Yet he was the only one who was listening; the only one who cared enough and was moved enough to actually do something. While others likely were impressed to hear that a slave nation took on the worlds superpower, such lasted the 30 seconds or so they spoke about it. They then moved on with their daily activities.

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